Down’s Syndrome and deafness not a barrior to Black Belt…

April 9, 2010 – At the National Karate Team Tournament that was held recently at the Bloomington Sheraton, I ran into Mr. Bruce Nelson, the owner and head instructor of the Rochester National Karate School. In 2008, Mr. Nelson had an exceptional student promote to First Degree Black Belt.:

Bruce Stolp

Bruce Stolp is deaf and has Down’s Syndrome. He earned his black belt at 31 years old, after ten years of training.

Mr. Stolp and his parents had approached many area martial arts schools over the years because of Mr. Stolp’s wish to learn martial arts. Each school they approached told them that they would not be able to teach him because of his challenges.

When they approached Mr. Nelson at the Rochester National Karate school, he explained that he would be willing to teach him. Based on his strong desire to learn, he believed that Bruce Stolp could achieve his black belt, although it would probably take longer than most students.

Three things came together over the ten years it took Mr. Stolp to earn his black belt.

One – Bruce Stolp’s incredible determination to learn.
Two – Mr. Bruce Nelson’s steadfast commitment to his student.
Three – Mr. Stolp’s family’s unwavering belief and support.

This is a testament to how much a person can achieve despite difficulties – Mr. Stolp’s perseverance over the ten years it took him to achieve black belt is truly inspiring.

KARE 11 news did a spot on the news on November 17, 2008 – click the link to learn more! | Twin Cities, MN | Minnesotan with Down Syndrome earns Black Belt in karate.

(5/16/2013 update: The link to is no longer active unfortunately. Hopefully we will be able to get the original story at some point.)

~ Paula Aburto Zaragoza