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Criptaedo: Martial Arts Designed for People with Disabilities

  • Published: 2015-03-12 (Revised/Updated 2016-06-11) : Paul Brailer (
  • Synopsis: Criptaedo is a martial art designed to educate the community of people with disabilities on self-defense and fitness.
Martial Arts

Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development.

Main Document

Quote: "I had to modify what the instructors were teaching the ambulatory students to fit my abilities."

My name is Paul Brailer. I am a black-belt from the Art of Karate in Barberton, Ohio and the creator of Criptaedo, a new martial art designed to educate the community of people with disabilities on self-defense and fitness.

I haven't always had high self-esteem and confidence. Being born with spina-bifida, growing up was difficult. I had kids picking on me and doctors, teachers and caregivers discouraging me from new experiences or anything that they perceived would hurt me. This led to a low self-esteem and self-image which followed me into adulthood.

As an adult, I looked for the approval of others.

When I reached my 30s, I lost a few of my friends from poor health in a short amount of time. Another two of my friends were mugged. This got me thinking... how could I stay active and healthy and be able to defend myself if I had to? Then one day, a chance meeting changed everything.

I was at a local hamburger station and I saw a lady named Heidi wearing an Art of Karate T-shirt. We started talking and she didn't assume that my disability meant I couldn't do karate, which was a BIG self-esteem boost. She invited me to the school to watch a class. I signed up and 4 years later, I am the first person in the school born with a disability that achieved black-belt!

I had to modify what the instructors were teaching the ambulatory students to fit my abilities. For example: for a front kick, I do a palm-heel strike and for a round-house kick, I use an elbow-strike.

My skills have had gone through real-life trials as well.

Instead of being a victim of a mugging attack, I was able to defend myself. My assailant, probably realizing I was not the easy target he assumed, fled the scene. But he left me with a desire to teach these skills to others.

Criptaedo martial arts
About This Image: Criptaedo martial arts
In the summer of 2012, two of my friends - Jaret and Tony - and I started talking about self-defense for people with disabilities. I, jokingly, said we should call it Criptaedo. They liked it and so the name stuck.

Jaret now runs the technical side of Criptaedo and Tony is one of the instructors.

Since then we have done numerous speaking engagements with demonstrations, have been to subject of multiple articles and have produced instructional You-Tube videos like the following. In October of 2013, Criptaedo became a non-profit organization to donate visit

We are excited to begin physical self-defense classes and are looking forward to demonstrating at the Chicago & DC Abilities Expo.

Martial Arts has improved my self-esteem and self-image. It is not yet where I would like it to be, but it's not where it was.

Visit us on the web at, on Facebook and Twitter. Criptaedo is available for your events for an honorable honorarium. To find out more, contact us at

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