Training with a Debilitating Illness



I have a friend that has Lupus. Though Lupus has many different physical effects on a person, my friend is suffering from chronic inflammation affecting muscle, and organs commonly accompanied by arthritis in joints.

The Doctor says Martial Arts training should cease because of the damage the "contact" side of the training is doing to the body.

Question I have been asked to put to you is. Is it possible to continue training in Martial Arts with such restrictions, i.e. no contact? Is it reasonable to continue if you can't participate in it 100%, giving and getting contact? Can you reach Black Belt level with these restrictions?

I know Tai Chi and other forms of MA are available but Kenpo is the current form of training and is hoping to continue with it.

Your opinion is greatly appreciated



Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Apr 24, 2002
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I have two friends who have had kidney transplants and are forbidden contact. They both train in kenpo and do very well. They don't spar in tournaments, and everyone in their studios know that they have medical conditions and THEY ARE NOT TO BE HIT.

The prohibition against contact shouldn't prevent them from giving contact to another party, if the doc says that punching or kicking something is okay, perhaps with sparring gloves and footgear to help distribute the impact.

If its something she really doesn't want to give up, I would suggest that she find a doctor who is willing to work with her to make it as safe as possible.

Matt Stone

Master of Arts
Dec 4, 2001
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Fort Lewis, Washington
First, as a long time practitioner of the Chinese internal arts, I have to admit it rankles a bit when folks automatically assume (or appear to) that Taiji is no contact, hands off, non-martial training... Just to be clear, while probably 90+% of Taiji practitioners are cut from such cloth, there are those folks who enjoy bashing each other about and racking up injuries and bruises galore...

That having been said, Tai Chi of the no-contact version may be well suited to your friend. I would say though that one's orientation toward martial training should be examined. If a person wants to be a gung-ho uber bad ***, then obviously they will not achieve that desired goal if they forego the contact portion of training. But look at arts like iaido or kyudo in which there are no moments of "contact" with an opponent at all... I don't think anyone would question the benefits of such training.

Your friend could likely continue in whatever art she is already pursuing with a strong caveat from the teacher explaining to all the other students the prohibitions necessary for her to continue training...

Good luck to her.


I have grown close to this issue over the past five years.

I have degenerative disease in both knees, both hips, and my lower back...I've had two surgeries, so far, and plan another next year...that will buy me another 8 to 10 before total joint replacement is necessary...

I am a student of Chinese martial arts (specifically, YiLiQuan) and part of that training includes the Yang Short form and the combined (Yang, Wu, Ch'en, Sun, Wu) TaiJi also includes a lot of nei gong and qigong me, that whole idea of non-contact is NOT the way we train in TaiJi.

Certainly the discipline of my art has allowed me to do things the doctor would rather I not do...certainly the qigong and neigong training has helped me stay healthy even though I do less physical training than I used to...during the rehab time, I was teaching while on crutches (it helps if you have a senior student to help out in demonstrating certain things)...I still have plenty to learn and to offer, and until I can no longer do any of this, I'll still be out there limping along with the rest of the guys...

Bottom line: make whatever adjustments you need to make, but keep training !!! Good luck.


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