According to the National LGBTI Health Alliance briefing paper 2013, the mental health among the LGBTI community is the poorest in Australia. The statistics are overwhelming, however I’ll focus on the suicide rates in this article. The suicide attempts for same-sex attracted Australians is up to 14% higher than heterosexuals, with the rate increasing by 6% for same-sex attracted youth. 20% of transgender Aussies think about suicide and 50% of trans have attempted to kill themselves at least once.
Last year, all the big footy codes in Australia made history by signing an agreement to implement policies to combat homophobia in sport. This was a landmark initiative. Since then we have seen the rise of gay sports teams. Perhaps the sport with the highest profile being all inclusive rugby union. Last year the Bingham Cup, The Gay Rugby World Cup, was held in Sydney for the first time. It is clear that we have become more tolerant in Australian sport. This, however, is not filtering down to all of the LGBTIQ community.
I spoke with Melbourne local Davin Davis about his goal to open an all inclusive self-defence centre to teach LGBTIQ people, and youth, self-defence. Davin has 35 years experience in Kyokushin karate. He has won three national competition titles and over the years has run 3 different martial arts schools. Davin has never experienced homophobia directly, but has seen others on the receiving end of it. He sees teaching Kyokushin as a confidence booster, as well as a lifestyle. Kyokushin is a branch of karate born in the 1960’s and was perhaps ahead of its time. This progressive martial art has over 10 million members worldwide.
Davin doesn’t want to get in the business of teaching youth to fight. He wants to help the at risk community feel safe, confident, and comfortable in their own skin. Kyokushin Karate is demanding, challenging, and the core values of the martial art will empower participants.
I asked Davin the difference between participating in an all inclusive team sport and martial art: “The advantage is, it’s a personal journey set in a team environment. In a competitive sense in team sport, it’s about the team. In Kyokushin Karate you get the same advantages of training together, supporting each other, but ultimately it’s a personal journey as your personal development remains at the core of the activity” Davin explains.
Davin is working towards registering his upcoming school with a professional governing body, like the International Karate Association in Japan (IKO), so participants can train up the ranks and train elsewhere competitively.
Currently looking for a venue, Davin has a few potential community centres interested in willing to donate their space for the classes. The operation will run completely as a non-profit with participants asked to make a donation and the money re-invested in equipment for the class.
With such dismal statistics as mentioned at the beginning of this article, this initiative gives you something to smile about. It is a positive step forward in empowering high suicide risk LGBTIQ youth. We wish Davin luck in his venture and will be sure to announce the opening of the classes.
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