Transferring martial arts from two legs to one leg (literally)

Okay, bit of background on this theory – when I seriously mangled my stump back in… early 2006, and had almost a year off from my training to recover from the damage, I found myself trying to transfer those skills to my existing condition and start to work on theorising how I could transfer the techniques and knowledge I had gained from learning karate as an amputee into something I could do on one leg — literally, as this was when I couldn’t even wear my prosthesis.

This seems a bit odd – karate (and by extension, martial arts in general) draw from the body’s natural synergy insofar as the body’s symmetry is concerned – that is, you have a left-hand side and a right-hand side of your body, and it’s by using both sides and all four limbs together that you can extract maximum performance, strength, efficiency and so forth. Training in a martial art with one leg whilst wearing a prosthesis presents challenges to the body’s natural equilibrium, but what happens when you remove the limb altogether?

That’s what I started to investigate. My early experiments were seeing if it was possible to control techniques whilst on crutches. As time has gone on (three years if I’m not mistaken given its 2009 now), I’ve tried to move beyond this, and try and transfer at least some techniques to performing them on one leg. I think I’ve started making a little progress at this stage, and as amateur as it may seem, I might have to get my wife to take some photos so I can post them up on the blog. The main difference is that it is significantly more difficult to transfer powerful techniques on one leg, and the amount of energy required to keep up is absolutely incredible. When doing standing reverse-punches, you have to shift your center of balance slightly, but with practice you can start to pull off techniques with a high degree of hip rotation to start achieving effective technique.

Blocks and grappling are a bit restricted, but if you use measured effort to hold your balance, there is a degree of light technique that I’ve been able to achieve at this stage. Whilst my holds/grappling skills are pretty weak, I think there is a huge potential here to investigate different options, as the lack of a limb theoretically gives you greater access to monkey-style grappling where you can easily grapple with relative agility around/over your opponent. I think it would take an experienced jujutsu/BJJ or grappling fighter to really harness this, but I think the possibilities are there. If ever I learn groundfighting styles further down the road, it would certainly be an interesting exercise to work out how to transfer those principles to this style of technique.

Kicks obviously are pretty much non-existent unless I’m on my crutches, but at that I’m only really limited to thrusting kicks which only have a certain degree of utility. To be honest, it would probably be far more effective to separate the bottom shaft of the crutches and wield them like kali sticks than rely on the crutches for support in doing a thrusting forward kick.

So yeah, just a few thoughts there. Like I said, in a couple of weeks I might get Wifey to take some snapshots whilst I investigate techniques and demonstrate a few techniques I’ve worked out for when I’m without my prosthesis. This train of thought was inspired in part because I’ve had issues with my stump this week and it got me back to thinking about what’s possible in such a condition. Definitely something to think about.


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May 2009