I'm searching for a combat-technique that can be executed with only one arm and only one quick leg.

Since I've become hemiphlegic two things changed: everything I knew about or/and had the skills concerning self-defense became useless. In my case my left arm moves very slow "somehow" and my left leg can't jump. I've seen a lot of books for people in a wheelchair, but never for left side impaired. But there must be more than Eastern-movies where the master defends himself bored (because soo cool...) without wheelchair but disability, especially for realistic situations. Because guess what, weak persons (or seemingly weak persons) are more mugged than healthy-strong MMA-fighters walking along the street.

5 Answers 5


There's some options, though it becomes really specific to your ability. I made a youtube vid talking about the general issues of self defense with mobility issues last year.

Here's some things to look at more specific to your question:

Can you pivot on your weak leg?

In some cases of leg weakness, people end up "locking" the leg. While this ends up restricting your overall mobility to step with it or spring off of it, you can certainly get some rotational pivot from either the ball (if your stronger) or heel (if your leg is weaker). If this is the case, look at techniques that might do ok pivoting off the left leg (kicks with right leg, elbows from the right, some strikes). You may end up having to develop a specific delivery variation for your body for some other techniques.

Elbow and shoulder checks

Your left arm may not be fast but you can probably get in some solid shoulder or elbows from that side if you can twist from the torso or get a good angle from stepping with your right leg. In my younger years I did judo at a dojo with a severely disabled man whose arm was locked into a position in front of his chest - he'd grab you with his good arm and shoulder twist down for take downs all the time.

Head butting

A pretty great close range tool and not a bad option if you have to shoulder check someone and be up close anyway. There's some wrestling and close grappling styles that also use the chin to grinding to the side of someone's temple or jaw hinge to cause immense pain.

Grappling and ground work

Although ideally in self defense scenarios, your goal is to get away, the fact is you're more likely to end on the ground than fully able bodied folks, so it's good to have your tools together. Part of this should include falling training, simply because that can hurt you more than the hit that knocked you down.

Grappling may also give you ways to use your left arm or leg as a support to another technique, even if they themselves are not fast or strong.

Consider Self defense tools

If your primary concern is self defense, look into what you can legally carry in your area and what tools you'd feel comfortable using - pepper spray, stun gun, flashlight, etc. Practice being able to access it with your good hand and aiming/using the tools as needed.

If you have a brace for your leg or arm, a crutch or cane, or other mobility tools, consider practicing moving around with them, both for your own mobility and for the sake of what kinds of attacks you might be able to make with them.

  • 2
    Just a grain of salt on tools: please check with your lawyer that said tools are legal to carry for self defence. Some might not be and might get you on the wrong side of law. I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV so talk to a real one. Jan 22, 2015 at 7:38
  • Yep. I really emphasize looking into what is legal to carry.
    – Bankuei
    Jan 22, 2015 at 8:52
  • 1
    Flashlight is a lousy tool, unless it comes with interesting extras Sep 10, 2019 at 12:37

You may be able to learn a lot of useful things from watching Bill "superfoot" Wallace fight. He also has some sort of problem with one of his legs, forcing him to develop his left leg and left arm to compensate.


The challenge you face is that building martial arts takes time (often generations). It is unlikely that one has built a complete martial art for you. Accordingly, you will have to adapt a martial art and develop your own way of taking advantage of your body's capabilities.

I recommend a two sided approach. One side is to develop a capability to use your weak side in martial arts. Schools such as Tai Chi teach you how to find the strength in everything, so they will be helpful for finding ways to use your weak side of your body that other disciplines might simply discard as "useless." (disclaimer: I am positive other schools would work just as well, Tai Chi just seems to be more obvious about its approach, so it's easier to write an answer using it.)

On the other side, you will probably want to pick up an external martial art. I'd leave it to you to decide which one you wish to pick up, though one of the Asian martial arts that identify with Qi would blend more easily with Tai Chi, so there's an advantage there. The external martial arts will teach you how to take advantage of an opponents weaknesses in ways which take longer to acquire with internal arts. You seem to be interested in a pressing situation, so it makes sense to cover this concern from the onset.

Once you have these two halves, you will have to marry them, yourself, to work with your own body. This will take time, and dedication. However, consider taking advantage of your every strength. If your opponent thinks your left side is weak, they are more likely to try to attack it. Let them commit to such an idea, and then surprise them with just how strong your left side actually is with internal martial arts training. It doesn't have to be strong enough to beat them... just strong enough to get them off guard and give you a chance to sink your right side's strength into them!

What I consider the best advantage of this approach is that it doesn't write your weaker half off as "useless." It finds ways to use it whenever possible. When it comes to keeping the body healthy, nothing helps more than continued use!


You looking a martial art for self defense purposes. Self defense can be life and death, it's not about scoring points.

Having hemiplegia is a major issue. We talk self-defense,so which moves can be utilized to neutralize, or even scare an opponent? Just doing a technique won't do the trick.

For example, let's say you can punch really hard with your healthy hand, still, you need to get into position to do that. This is a HUGE challenge to any trainer (my mind is blowing, just thinking about it).

Also, bear in mind, that we assume that the student is defender, not the aggressor, possibly also caught by surprise, which means that he takes the first hit.

Few points that come to my mind:

1) Whatever system you choose, it's private lessons for you. The moves are to be tailored and costumed especially for you. Public class would be a waste of time.

2) Work the surprise factor. No one expects retaliation from hemiplegic.

3) When working with a partner, he should give you no considerations.

3) Concealed [legal!!] self-defense tool definitely come into mind (@Bankuei). Do you walk with a cane?? Even if you don't need one, no one will suspect you going with one for other purpose! (hence, surprise factor).


Possibly this stack exchange post would be more appropriate as an answer. Not a specific martial art but possibly a "lead-in" to forms more appropriate to your needs. Martial-Arts-One-Hand

Edited {Chin na is also an excellent defence against attackers. It involves wrist locks, strike grabs, etc. It is a chinese martial art (shaolin origin, but arent most of them ) .}

  • -1. This does not answer the question at all! How can someone with limited use of one side of their body benefit from Chin na? Jan 21, 2015 at 16:20

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