Words by Erik Kondo:
I started using my wheelchair on a longboard late this summer. Earlier in the year, I had seen a video of a man in Germany riding his longboard from his wheelchair. At the time, I didn’t understand its true potential. It wasn’t until a few week later that I realized the amazing opportunities created by this thrilling sport.
Balancing is a fundamental aspect of human life. Balancing is fun. Many popular recreations and activities are based around using and improving balancing – slacklining, gymnastics, water skiing, motocross, mountain biking, surfing, rock climbing, unicycling, skating, skiing, longboarding, yoga are just a few. These activities involve skills that build upon each other with each successive skill mastered forming the foundation for the next level skill.
Unfortunately, most wheelchair related activities don’t involve balancing. Skiing, surfing, and water skiing are notable exceptions, but require expensive specialized equipment.
Longboarding with a wheelchair provides the rider the opportunity to fully engage his or her lower brain to balance the exterior forces of gravity and centrifugal force. The Cerebellum controls the balance and coordination of motor function. The Cerebellum is part of the Hind or Lizard brain. It differs from the Limbic system which is the center of emotion, and the Neocortex which is responsible for complex thinking. When the Cerebellum is engaged it controls movements based upon reacting to the senses, not from conscious thinking. This type of movement is “moving meditation”. It represents being in “the zone”. Riding the longboard allows the wheelchair user to maintain this highly desirable and effective state similar to that achieved by the able-bodied during the activities listed previously.
Longboarding via a wheelchair is a radical departure from all other wheelchair activities in that the longboard creates sideways movement as opposed to forward and reverse movement. Control of the longboard is initiated primary by side to side pressure from “wheelie control”. Staying on the board is made possible by the addition of side rails of 1- 1.5 inches high. These side rails lock the wheelchair’s rear wheels in place on the deck of the wheelchair. Putting the side rails on a drop deck longboard works well since the deck of the longboard is low to the ground which increases stability and is easier to mount.
In conclusion, there is much to be learned and techniques to be developed. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be one of the early practitioners and promoters of this fun and exciting activity for wheelchair users.
You can find more info about on Kondo’s journey towards balance on his facebbok page or website: