How do any disabilities/learning difficulties effect your training in a MA?

Discussion in 'Disabled Martial Artists' started by TheBorderer, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. TheBorderer

    TheBorderer New Member

    Hi folks,

    Interesting topic here I thinks(again from an interesting time on MAP chat :))... Just wondered how many folks here who do a MA have some kind of disabilities or learning difficulties and your opinions on doing your chosen art? How do you feel this effects your training if at all? Do you feel it hinders you compared to the rest in your class, or helps you through as you have more of an incentive to do well so you can 'prove' you can do it? Also to any fully able MAists, what's your opinon of your fellow classmates? What about instructors, how do you find trying to teach such students and how they react to you? I want this to be as wide ranging as possible, hence so many questions! (Of course if there are any more feel free to say so!)

    I might as well mention self in this respect, while I am not physically disabled in any way, I do have a learning difficulty known as Dyspraxia (not sure on it's spelling, why do these things, have to be a blighter to spell! :D), basically this means that I'm maybe more clumsy as my body won't to precisesly as the brain tells it to! I do Tae Kwon Do and I guess one reason as to why was to 'prove' that I could train my body to do complicated things, such as high kicks, stikes, jumping turns etc... As for if it hinders me, I guess it does slightly as I feel it takes me slightly longer to learn a new pattern or move and sometimes maybe I'm not as quick or as elegant at first! (Of course maybe my instructor can shed more light onto that than me as I don't know if it is me, or just the fact it is a complicated move!) Sometimes I get annoyed as I'll be through a pattern or move and forget it or feel really clumsy when moving!

    But anyway, I'd like to see what you guys have to say on this, hopefully this will make for an interesting discussion! :)
  2. WhiteWizard

    WhiteWizard Arctic Assasain

    My eyesight is quite bad i'm registered partially sighted and have a travel pass because of it i don't find it affects my training really but that may be down to me not knowing anything else when in class i like to stand as close as possible to make sure i'm seeing everything however my instuctor is quite understanding about it as his eyesight isn't great without glasses either its a lot better than mine to be fair.

    It doesn't affect me too much however
  3. thiaboxr2

    thiaboxr2 New Member

    We have an individual who lost all his fingers on his right hand in an accident a few years ago. All cut off at the second joint. His thumb was gone.

    He's been practicing BJJ ever since. He's used to it. Its as if there is no difference when it comes to grappling with him. He can easily hold his own. Also participated in a few competitions.

    He has also done Thia Boxing since then. Punching is not a problem. As I see it, he still has two hands.
  4. paul paterson

    paul paterson Valued Member


    How does any disabilities/learning difficulties effect your training in a MA?

    This is a very good and thought provoking querry, everyone has a disability and YES I did say everyone. Each person will have some kind of ability and disability, some more than others and some less. To most of us the word disability will mean someone who is in a wheelchair or a "fool" person. This is where the word disability is total word encompassing compaired to the old term "handycaped". The word "handycaped" is a Victorian word given to the poor and ex-service men from the wars who would beg in the streets with a cap in hand and ask for money and were disabled in some way.

    Having several disabilities myself and having married a spina-bifida sufferer I can understand why there is a prejudice and discriminatory factor within the MA world and in general. I too have dysparaxia and dyslexia & dyscalcula, osteoarthritis and bi-polar disorder. These disabilities did cause me many ills and headaches, I was even bullied because of them, but the disabilities that I have, have helped me more and due to this I have grown into a better person.

    Having taught many disabled students, from deaf to blind, from epileptics to heart and kidney patients and people with certain limbs missing. After seeing other people with other types of disabilities and some are far more than others, you begin to see how insignificant we all are and this is a humbling experience.

    Life is hard enough but having a disablity makes the job of living an art and though we face brick walls, eventually they come falling down.

    Paul Paterson.
  5. teacher

    teacher Valued Member

    Interesting thread Borderer, thanks.
    My mate had dyspraxia and behavioural problems at school. He studied karate and found it gave him the discipline to change his circumstances. He is one of the nicest guys I know.
    I also trained in a class that include a boy with Downs Syndrome.
    He gave it his all and loved the classes. He was a great example to the rest of us.
    I particularly liked Paul's contribution. What is a disability? When it is visually obvious its easy. But what about that quiet 17 year old working away on his or her technique?
    I'm hoping to cope with my poor eyesight with new contacts.
  6. Artikon

    Artikon Advertise here ask me how

    Interesting . . . I personally don't have any disabilities, but I noticed one of my students does. He hasn't been diagnosed with it after speaking with his parents but they think he may be a little dyslexic.

    From what I've seen from him in class I would agree. He seems to have trouble paying attention and learning things . . . however he does know the material that is presented to him, with the exception he does everything backwards! It is the weirdest thing, you can teach him a form and he do the entire thing backwards without knowing what he's doing. He thinks he's right.

    This has presented a problem with developing his S/D as well as he'll try to do things backwards there too. Try the strike before the step aside or the block. He has been a huge challenge but quite interesting and enjoyable . . . if not sometimes aggravating to work with.

    Do some of the other instructors or parents on MAP know of anything that I could do or his parents could do to help him develop?
  7. Bon

    Bon Banned Banned

    Yeap, I'm hearing impaired.

    The disadvantages are pretty obvious I reckon - don't hear as much as everyone else, therefore less knowledge. It's particularly a bitch when the instructor is talking us through the technique, I learn most of my techniques through looking at other people & imitating them... then I'll work out why the technique works later as best as I can.
  8. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    A quote from the Site Magazines 'Articles' section;

    Different people have different abilities!

    Some people seem to be born with advantages!
    We all know someone who is really strong, fast, flexible, intelligent, funny or good looking!
    Something I have observed from experience though, is that the people at the forefront of Martial Arts today, are not the people with the 'natural gifts' of strength, speed, agility etc.
    They are the people with an inner strength!
    Something to prove, perhaps a physical or mental limitation.
    Bloody-minded determination can overcome Mr or Mrs Lucky if you are persistent about it.
    Learning a Martial Art is a 'War of Attrition' with yourself.
    The people with 'natural gifts' tend to find things so easy, that they wander off and find something else to do that is easier still!

    If someone ever says to you; "What you? Do that? You have no chance", just smile to yourself, and take steps to make them eat their words.

    Some of the best students I've taught have been Autistic, fool, Deaf, Blind and Diabetic.
  9. darlph

    darlph New Member

    We have a few ADHD & ADD students who just can't control how much they move or even how their speedy thought processes come out of their mouths or where their attention is. We are aware if who is who and I really think that MA helps them to control it a little and helps to build confidence.
    I have knee problems and I have learned to adapt my movements. I have a great instructor who understands the problems associated with not being able to get lower in balance or doing a pulling kick. It seems that because of my personal familarity of problems, I often times is the one to grade them on their tests. Recently, I had to bow out of the training for my 2nd Dan training and test because apparently back in April when I thought I had just pulled a muscle, I had ripped some cartilage in my good right knee.
    I have noticed when other students know you have certain disabilities they don't want to partner up with you. At this point, I really don't give a rats butt about how they avoid me. I may not be able to do impact drills with my legs, but I am faster and higher in alot of the kicks we do. Mostly I train on one side only and kick with the right leg in front because of the left knee surgery i had a few years back. Now I am in the process of switching to the other side.
    I can honestly say, I haven't quit yet like quite a few others have done that I thought had great potential.:)
  10. PsiCop

    PsiCop Antonio gets the women...

    There is an interesting case in my school. There is a boy who trains there who is slow to learning things and also doesn't really put forth a lot of effort. However, I see my instructor calmly talking to their very annoyed mother nearly every week as to why he keeps getting held back for Dan testing. I can understand the cases of learning disabled students who put forth a lot of effort, trying that much harder to achieve their goals in martial arts. It's my opinion that they should be able to test regardless of their disability, as long as they know the core material required for testing.

    But that's the problem. He doesn't put forth much effort at all and I think he's only there because of his mother's ambitions of trying to make him a martial artist. Therein comes the moral problem. He's disabled, but doesn't put forth any effort. Is it prejudice to hold him back? Are you just holding him back according to a condition? IMO no, but in this society moral standards are constantly changing for the worse. Just look at the American Judicial system. The word "sue" had magically appeared in our vocabulary in the early 1990s. Now it's a widespread con game.

    So we come to the questions: Could you be sued for holding back a mentally challenged person numerous times? Should you feel bad about it, even though it's the only fair thing for the other students who earned their black belts?
  11. booksie_girl

    booksie_girl Lucy the Terrible

    IMHO, holding him back is only fair, he has to put in the effort, and know the material, but from a legal point on view... depends on who has the better lawyer. Sad, but you can be sued for just about anything. However, the chances of it aren't too high. just my opinion.
  12. Tireces

    Tireces New Member

    Precisely why I got involved in the martial arts to begin with. I think my story is a pretty common one, one that I see from top-tier martial artists a lot, even (not saying that I'll be joining those proud ranks anytime soon, but I'm hopeful :D ). That story is of course, of the weakling who was god-awful at every athletic endeavor, and one day just got tired of being the wuss, and set out to jam everyone's mocking words down their throats. It was hard even making it to where I am now, I've trained with first-time people who kind of get amazed at how they're so out of breath while I'm still going pretty strong, and I always tell them I didn't even make it through my first class, which is absolutely true. They had to get me to stop before I started losing consciousness. I had always been interested in martial arts, the idea of one's body becoming a weapon has just always intrigued me for some reason. I was inspired by hearing once about how Bruce Lee had started from being in a similar state at roughly the same age as I was, and ultimately wound up choosing his Jeet Kune Do as what I would study (not simply because it was his, but because I liked it from all the reading I had done on it, not because of its "freedom" as most people do, but actually because of its emphasis on "hacking away the unessential"). I guess my biggest disability would be that my body just isnt a big and as roughly built as even the average (roughly 6'3", 160 pounds, and thats AFTER gaining about 20 or so pounds from training, almost no body fat though), let alone those guys out there who can somehow manage to be hulks without a single drop of any synthetic hormone. This has contributed to a much larger problem that has kept me out of classes, that developed as a result of a sprained ankle. Anyone who knows their way around the JKD stance knows that the rear foot is essential, and that, unfortunately, happens to be where my injury was located. Because of the way I got used to walking on the foot after the sprain (wound up not seeing a doctor for it or getting a cast and crutches, mostly out of fear that I would get killed in the hallways of my high school, since they were so overcrowded, and people there for the most part were just generally very self centered and were the kind of folks who'd run down a cripple if they were in a hurry), my foot and the muscles in it are all very bizarrely formed now. Ones that shouldnt be so strong ARE strong, and ones that should be strong are weak. In a JKD class, that foot's heel is raised nearly ALL the time, and so therein lies my problem. I have been trying a lot of different things to get the foot back to what it should be (as well as correcting both feet for being flat footed, another somewhat nagging disability, but really not a bad one at all by itself), and hopefully they'll pay off. Some people I know also think I have ADD, but I doubt it. My mind wanders at times, but not ALL the time.
  13. Knight_Errant

    Knight_Errant Banned Banned

    does a lack of abilities count as a disability? If you can fight but you happen to be deaf, you stand a better chance than a fully-hearing person who can't fight to save his life, I'd think.
  14. TheBorderer

    TheBorderer New Member

    Hi folks,

    Interesting replies, though I don't take all the credit from this idea, like I said was on chat, speaking to Kyokushin_girl and hence really the idea, so thanks K_girl! :) (hope I'm not 'embarrasing' you! :p) Anwyway back to topic. Interesting question Knight_errant actually along with paul paterson's comment earlier, I guess it's all how you define 'disabillity' if you that's what the definition on it is, then yeah, makes sense, in a way 'disabillity' is a word some would call a fickle/subjective word like I find the word "normal" to be. I mean what is normal? It's just really people's various interpretations/connotations of something. Life can indeed deal us some 'poor hands' so to speak and it's really a case of who we use them which makes us.

    Andy, yeah you do have a good point there, I sometimes find learning TKD a bit of an internal 'War of Attrition', but yeah for everyone studying a MA inner strength can and does count for a lot.

    As for the boy PsiCop mentions, it's hard for me to say much (and sounding like I'm passing judgement to easily) without the 'whole story', but yeah I can see why it's a sticky issue, considering the many sides to the story. But yeah, if a MAist does truly knows they're stuff and has the will to succseed, I don't think it matters too much (if at all) what kind of disabillity they have and how bad that disabillity is in order to progress (granted it can get very difficult depending what the disabillity is). The way I see things, and it has has been said many a time before, people are individual as long as we respect each other then that's the most important thing (something which I try my best to do every day).
  15. Kinjiro Tsukasa

    Kinjiro Tsukasa I'm hungry; got troll? Supporter

    Many interesting comments here on how various kinds of disabilities affect the MA learing process. I'd like to know how disabilities (either permanent or temporary, or injuries, or physical limitations, or age-related conditions) affect the relationships between you and the other students in your dojo. Do you feel accepted? Are you taken seriously by the other students? Do you get the same respect as everyone else? If your condition is temporary and/or not visible, do other students seem to treat you as if you're slacking off (assuming there are certain things you can't do, or do as well as the others)?
  16. paul paterson

    paul paterson Valued Member


    In general for most students and people in general with disabilities both past and present, if you put in the same effort or more then you are accepted. There is however a small amount of others who will use their disabilities to play on to get more, those people tend to fail in life but they still need our help after all thats what Budo is about.

    Paul Paterson.
  17. Saz

    Saz Nerd Admin

    Paul, I also have Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, and althought they do effect me to some extent in my MA (direction, co-ordination, attention span etc) but I don't play on them. My sensei doesn't even know about them, so I can't. The sort of people who will play on it in MA will play on it for other things in life, and they tend not to get very far in anything, and then blame the disability for their flaws. Anything can be done with enough dedication, disabled Martial artists just need to use a bit more than most.

    To add another point to this, my sensei doesn't know about my disablities. Those of you with disabilities, do you tell your instructors about them, or keep it to yourself. I can see advantages for and against it myself.
  18. Kinjiro Tsukasa

    Kinjiro Tsukasa I'm hungry; got troll? Supporter

    Some things your Sensei needs to know; if you are under doctor's orders not to do certain things because of injury, for example. No point in doing something that will make the injury worse, and knock you out of training for weeks or maybe months. If the disability has no real impact on your performance, then no need to mention it. However, what if you really are giving maximum effort and doing the very best you can, but are falling a little short because of real limitations -- how do you deal with people who erroneously think you're making excuses?
  19. paul paterson

    paul paterson Valued Member


    Although just about all those with disabilities will be genuine and honest, its hard enough being and having them. There are some that will play on them and there will others with no disabilities who will pretend for the attention. Although no harm was ment and thanks K_Girl for pointing that out, having these disabilities should not mean that we that have them should be treated any different. We have all seen many people out there with some kind of disability but please look upon them as the rest of the populas, give a helping hand when needed but just treat us and them with kid-gloves and sympathy.

    As I said in a previous posting, we are all disabled in some manner, shape and form. It takes a real person an honest person to admit to it, and those that do are always the stronger.

    Paul Paterson.
  20. paul paterson

    paul paterson Valued Member

    Sorry for the above, the old dyslexia got in the way.

    Paul Paterson.

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