Is there a *defensive* martial art for people who have bad knees and hips?
I was born with the disability of mild cerebral pasly on my left side. It has resulted in a hypertense foot which is always pointed downwards and I can't rotate it upwards from the ankle. My left leg is shorter than my right by a couple of inches, and as a result, I walk only on the toe of my left side, unless i use a lift in my shoe. I also use a brace to combat my ankle rolling outwards. The worst side effects from all this is that i have severe chronic hip pain on my left side only which flares up whenever I do any sort of impact activity such as walking or climbing, and especially rotating at the hips. The only thing I can do without pain is ride my bike for some reason. However, my left knee is degenerated and malformed, and I can't put any weight on it midway -- it has to be a all-or-nothing action such as stairs, and even then it produces terrible pain. My right knee is also mildly aggravated from all the overcompensation, but not too much.
I am painfully aware that if I ever got into a physical altercation, I would instantly be defeated. This is not because I am weak -- my upper body strength is moderate -- but because I have no core balance. Even if I were to swing a punch, I would be so off balance I could immediately be taken down. I live in a tough neighborhood and I am always afraid that someone is going to have a problem with me and I won't be able to defend myself.
Ideally I'd like to learn a defensive martial art that I could merely use to neutralize my opponent's attacks. I have no interest in offensive maneuvers. I don't approve of fighting. But I would like to ensure my own safety.
However I have always assumed that due to the significant pain and limited movement and ability of my lower body, martial arts training is impossible due to the amount of focus placed on balance and being able to sustain weight and flexion in the knees and hips.
Is there no hope for me? Or might I still be able to learn a defensive martial art?
I'd really appreciate the input. Thanks!
[long response to basic factors in this enquiry]
hi pistolslap - many issues and subjects raised there mate, but be aware that all traditional
martial arts are based on self defense.. ie, what you see as competitive martial arts where
the object is to score points by striking first, or more genuine representations of martial arts
such as mma representative in ufc events where the goal is similar, knock out or submit
your opponent or use the rules for point scoring to win by judges decision, have been
created and developed from, real traditional martial arts, which existed before any
point scoring 'martial art' competitions..
while there must be the element of defeating the enemy or attacker, given possibilities
of serious threats such as weapons or multiple attackers, nevertheless traditional ma
begin with and focus on defending the attack as first response..
there as many possibilities for defending as there are types of attack..
traditional martial arts are typically practiced or by young men, yet anyone
can practice traditional martial arts..
this may seem a bold statement to some, but it is the reality..
women are not young men and yet there are fine and competent women ma'tists..
older men are not young men yet many are capable of self defense based on
their many years of training and practice [i am now 67 and quite confident of
defending myself generally]..
people in wheelchairs have practiced martial arts [obviously not for sport]
developing genuine self defense capabilities, not to mention special
physical development that goes with real martial arts..
i am not training right now due to injuries [broken hands, knee ligaments]
sustained when a car turned in front of me on my motorcycle..
previously ive sustained ligament damage and repair to the other knee..
years ago now i went thru an epileptic phase [grand mals] which resulted in
negative effects on balance etc, also preventing some ongoing training etc..
we [australia okinawan goju-ryu karate] had a man injured in a smash
who couldnt stand up without falling when he made a strong movement
needing someone to stand behind him when making full or strong responses..
he would never be 'normal' or truely capable at okinawa goju levels and yet
thru perseverance over years of training he did progressively improve
to the extent of practicing unaided resulting in improvements in balance
and coordination and some real self defense abilities..
his quality of life and confidence were of course invaluable..
i have no wish to injure anyone.. this is i believe typical of senior
real karateka and other genuine martial artists..
we all,, age inevitably, as a factor of being alive..
thus we must all expect the ravages of aging..
we can all however enter aging - or other damage etc
in good condition of mind and body with functioning joints
and well developed balance and coordination and so on
thru regular serious well taught traditional martial arts..
self defense, the concept and reality, also includes defending
against any, potential threat to health and welbeing, including
aging itself.. aging will effect joints for eg, our primary means of
movement, depending on their condition and use leading up to
aging, which begins before the grey hair etc..
their is skill in blocking, parrying and otherwise evading attacks..
these first basic responses are fundamental to traditional ma..
whatever injuries or other limitation we may have on our
movement potentials is just the reality to be worked around..
many martial artists sustain injuries in training and otherwise
thru life, and yet continue training and developing despite
what first seem overwhelming injuries..
often people start training due to some weakness
or inability or perceived victim status..
as to specifics of technique [waza in karate] and abilities
or disabilities in practicing, this will depend on the style
of ma and especially on the teacher, but essentially
on the beginning student him or herself...
real martial arts are not for everyone..
even the fit and healthy and strong to begin with..
altho almost anyone can train and practice basic ma
as taught for sport etc, being a watered down version
of traditional or real karate or ma..
again, it depends on the sensei or sifu or teacher..
sport ma teachers would typically wish to train champions etc,
and no doubt all ma teachers would wish to develop strong
even devastating self defense in their students..
but,, the door is still open to the genuinely serious student..
like the wheelchair martial artist, some things cant be done,
and yet that martial did develop serious ma skills in defense
against any typical attack..
notice wheelchair rugby or other chair skills..
it depends on the wheelie as to what skills are possible..
as to your specific joint conditions etc,
you would need to coordinate with your specialist[s]
and any potential teacher, and also be willing to give
of yourself to the training and practice, as anyone,
for potential results and responses..
at the very least, you can improve your mobility
thru increased flexibility and movement in all joints,
with their connective tissues, together with balance
and coordination, within whatever restrictions may exist now..
worthwhile researching the various martial arts open to you
in your area, including contacting organisations and teachers
for their guidance and advices, again, as for anyone..
right now my left hand is just usable, right still in its cast,
right knee in a full leg splint awaiting either surgery or
other recovery phase [3 ligaments torn or ruptured etc]..
and yet, i still sit on the floor [watching videos etc]
and still practice various strengthening and stretching
based on karate and yoga movements, from my back,
including head to knees seated forward legs on floor
and same position leg and torso raised on sitting bones,
[as egs] together with using karate based foot/leg
movements in virtually all standing, turning, walking
including around the house, opening the fridge,
going to the floor and coming up, etc, etc..
on waking i go thru various stretching and twisting
movenents on my back on the [warm] mattress..
another eg of potential use of time and situation
even tho unable to practice full movement waza etc..
traditional ma or at least karate includes zen elements,
such as meditation, a foundation for traditional ma..
there is the mind and the body, working together..
meditation for eg, is one essence of mind function
that we can all continue practicing even injured etc..
real martial arts practice tends to develop real confidence
based on practicing attack scenarios as part of basics,
over and over.. together with meditation, this results in
a sort of 'not a victim' mentality and inner persona,
the absence of which is often sought by attackers
and those who prey on the weak and vulnerable..
you might consider related practices such as real
meditation and real yoga..
these have been important in my life
not only as adjuncts to ma training and practice
but as real resources for health and fitness
of body and mind..
bottom line is probably that self defense
is more than any particular technique,
even tho there are many effective self defence
techniques.. also that your results will be,
based on how much you put in..
good luck in this valuable area of life
and with your existing attitude and intent..
dont limit yourself, regardless..