Handicap and MA


Master Black Belt
Feb 1, 2002
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rhus, Denmark
How does your styl handle hadicaps, like 1 arm or leg? Or what about 1 eye (no 3-d perception)? Or sitting in a wheel chair.

Can a person train your styl at all if they have a handicap?

How does it "modify" your styl if the person is handicap?

Dave Hebler is a 10th Dan under Ed Parker who has trained in American Kenpo for YEARS and was blinded in one eye as a boy. He never had use if it. He's now a 10th with the OAKKA.
That's great! Must be hard judgeing distances with one. All respect from me!

When I wrote this thread I was thinking about so many dojo's taht clam it's for everbody, and we have room for everbody. But I've only been in 1 dojo where they really tried to handle this situation. As an instructor I had to pratice teaching MA to blind and deaf, amonst other handicaps. It was a great experience.
My art is supposed to be a kicking art so it's a little difficult to teach some of it to a one legged man or someone with no legs. However I can show them the hand aspects of the art.
The one legged man can learn to kick and blance some even try flying techniques. Both people can fight from the ground useing grappleing, and hand strikes.
My own son has only limited use of the left side of his body due to a auto accident and three major strokes that followed. His spine is held togeather even today by steelrods, yet he still practices what he can do. If a movement requires a closed or open hand the technique can be modified to work within his range of motion. Yes he has problems with certian kicks and there are things he is physicaly unable to do but he can sure correct some one (verbaly) when they do it wrong. Hell he may remember some technique better than I do ( I am getting forgetful these days)
The blind can learn almost anything they set there mind to it just takes patience
and some imagination to figure out how to "show" them the technique.
There's a blind student in my chain, and it's amazing what he can do. When you I him perform his techniques and his forms and his techniques, I am amazed by his grace and precision. First time I saw him test, I was confused as he was led out to the floor. His techiques were remarkable, and his form looked flawless. He definitely stood out from the other students. I can only hope one day my techniques look as good as his!
Our school handles it pretty well, since 85% of the students are handicapped in some form or another. And since I myself am the biggest of the handicapped around and I teach them, I say we do alright.

Read my Pop's thread on 'teaching the handicapped'.
How does your style handle handicaps, like 1 arm or leg? Or what about 1 eye (no 3-d perception)? Or sitting in a wheel chair.
Can a person train your style at all if they have a handicap?
How does it "modify" your styl if the person is handicap?

My instructor is training my 16 year old son, who was born with Spina Bifida and is confined to a wheelchair. He is learning strikes using his upper body. He cannot use his legs, but if you've never seen someone in a wheelchair use the front footrest as a 'pivot point' for a throw, you don't realize how effective it can be. The only modifications are that his technique's do not involve kicking with his own legs. HOWEVER, as I said, getting hit in the shins with a wheelchair ain't no 'walk in the park'!!! He has learned how to put his 'chair upright if it goes over backward, simply by leaning forward and yanking the wheels backward to pop back on the wheels. Sure, a handicapped person will have to make some modification's to do the arts, but they do it every day in life, anyway. It is just a matter of figuring out what to do and doing it. :)
In 1983, my Sifu had the assistant instructors (myself included) learn some rudimentary American Sign Language...a deaf student had joined the school and we would need that to instruct him...He brought in an ASL instructor two nights a week for six weeks...the classes were not optional...if you wanted to teach, you would participate, period.

That stuck with me (not ASL, I haven't needed it since then). The needs of the students (even one student) outweighed the extra work that several of the instructors might be required to do.

In 1989, I was asked by one of my students to teach his wife...
a paraplegic in a wheel chair...I agreed after interviewing her.
Of course all kicking was out...but we focused on what she could do...Her husband fashioned two lightweight aluminum batons that were fixed to the armrests of her chair...I told her to always have her "wheely-bars" extended to prevent someone from tipping her backwards...we worked on the fact that her center of gravity would be much lower than 99% of anyone who would attack...with that in mind we went to work...she became very good at throwing to one side or the other...her staright punch was very well developed (Years of wheel chair pedalling really developed her triceps) after I showed her how to hold a proper fist...and then there were the baton techniques ;) I don't know that I would have even considered teaching her had my Sifu not required the ASL classes six years previously...I don't know that she continued in her martial training, but she developed the confidence to begin entering olympic events for the wheel-chair bound and eventually won a gold medal in bench press...her husband was a major player because he encouraged her every step of the way (He practiced Hwarang Do).

Use what you got... If you ar missing an arm, you still have one left. If you are missing both arms then use your legs. If no legs, then your arms.. If your head is still attached then you have a weapon. Brains are the best of all weapons that any student has. Teach them to use what they have instead of what they don't.
And if all else fails, pick something up if you can and use it or the fail safe ... run away.
Mod Note:
Out of respect for the intent of this thread, and such, I have broken a long standing rule of my own and cut out posts.

Please keep this thread serious and on topic.

Thank you.
Some of the previous posters have serious disadvantages in training or they are refering to someone that has . The posters are looking for information , ideas, and positve feedback.
Sure we all can take a joke and laugh at many things but to one dealing with handicaps some jokes may not seem any funnier than makeing jokes about sexual assult to someone that has been assulted.
Ok I have had my say and I'll get off the :soapbox: But to those whose posts are not here come on guys lets be helpful to those that may need, want, and appreciate some help and ideas
Just let it go guys and keep this one on topic.

Thanks. :)
we had a student for a while that had difficulty walking. He was born with a disorder (sorry I dont know which one) but he would stumble and go off balance while doing the most simple things.
He had actualy come to me from a TKD school where he had recieved his 3RD degree black.
For what ever reason he had split with his privious instructor but wanted to still study a martial art.
After working out with him for a while i found that his uneven gate and his seemingly akward movements could be used to his advantage because no one ever knew where he was headed next. If you have ever watched Jacki Chan portray a drunken stylest, well this guy moved in a simular way. No he wasn't great but no one had ever used his natural movement to help him fight. He had always been told to stay in a good horse, or front stance. "KICK HIGH STAY SETIN STANCE" where the words he was used to. Heck I love to kick from the waist down and I like movement that is seemingly off balance.
He no longer studies with us but once in a while hell stop by when in the area to say hello and to ask questiuons or try out new things
Hey all,

When I started training at my dojang in Jan, I was met by this young girl named Angie... she has downs syndrom. She was a joy to have in class, and she knew her stuff let me tell ya..
Unfortuanatly she is no longer in class, she got bored of it, (but her mom told our instructor that she may come back, heck its summer and there are lots of summer sports for her) I truly miss her presence on the mat.
I think when teaching a person with special needs you need to explore motion to the fullest. Do just say the person has this or this that so they can't do something. And at the same time I think the person with the special needs also needs to try everything and only discard something when they cannot do it. Having worked with a student who had MS and walked with one crutch, I heard many times I can't do that, my answer was always how do you know unless we try. Sometimes the student was amazed they could do something they though would never be possible to them.

As an instructor it is up to you and the student to find out what will work best for them. I have met too many people who have a handicap program at their school and they teach every person the samething. The program should be tailored to the individual, because no 2 people are the same.
Well put Rob.

As instructors, we need to also learn how get the fullest of of disabilities. If you need to teach a person that has only one arm, then you yourself, should use one arm for a bit to get the feel of how the students feels. That way, you know better how to explain something. Actuaaly I personally think every student should do things such as exercises, forms, and sparring with one arm, or one leg, or blind(folded), or deaf(ear plugs). To better understand that limits does not mean you have to quit.
There may be a time when you can use only one arm or leg, what if the lights are completely out or you're blinded by light. You need to know how to overcome these 'disablities'.

But that's just me.