View Full Version : Teaching a 1 legged Senior Citizen

Please visit our sponsor:

01-24-2006, 08:06 PM
Well, he's not really 1 legged. His right leg is fake from the knee down. I didn't ask how old he is but I'm guessing atleast 65.

We just had our first class at the recreation center. I knew only one person signed up but through the main office. I met him for the first time when he showed for class.

I saw this elderly man standing outside and thought that would not be a problem, people start at all ages and I know seniors have started Aikido before. Then he asked me if he can still do it with his artificial leg. I nearly said no, but then I thought if he's up to it, I need to be too.

So we had the first class covering basic stances, stepping, shuffeling, pivoting and Nikajo after doing some bokken.

I'm just palying it by ear with him but I'm hoping for some advice on how to work with him.


01-25-2006, 03:12 AM
Hello Jim,

I think it was very good decision that you did not say "no".

I would not worry too much about teaching that man.
If I understood you correctly, you give him individual lessons,
so there are many opportunities to adapt the training to his needs and limitations.

For the techniques, there might be some he will not be able to do.
But there are plenty of others to practice.
Just use common sense.

Good luck with your new student,

Johan Nielsen
01-25-2006, 04:13 AM

I was in a dojo once where this woman had a fake foot. She was perhaps in her 60's too. She obviously had been training for some time as she had hakama. She had no trouble in her training due to her foot. (don't know if she started with aikido with anormal foot or not though.) There was also this man with deformed arms. He had black belt. I have also trained with a blind man.

So if this man is motivated to try aikido, so should you be. I believe there's not that many that would even try aikido with a fake leg, considering his age also. I would encourage him.

Good luck to you both

Mark Freeman
01-25-2006, 04:55 AM
Hi Jim,

No advice as such, I just think you did the right thing, and I think that you will find that you will benefit as much as he does from the fact that he is practicing with you. If you have to think about how he has to adapt to do certain things that others may be able to accomplish without thought, then that expands you as a teacher. Also if the students that he practices have to adapt themselves to accomodate him, then that is valuable for them also.

Good on you both,


01-25-2006, 05:32 AM

definitely the right thing to do.

Unless you are an expert on one-leggedness don't spend too much time worrying about what he can and can't do.

Let him worry about his own limitations - be assured that he will have developed many ways to overcome this situation and will have good knowledge of what is and isn't achievable.

If he's serious you may find him a very fast learner. Not only will he be studying the aikido techniques presented...but will also be evaluating what he needs to do to adapt his practice to cope, thus developing a deeper understanding quicker than those that just try to copy.



01-25-2006, 08:10 AM
Thank you all.
It could have been real easy to just tell him no. I'm sure we'll get things worked out.
It is motivating to have him come out to train. With him around I will never have a reason to not get out on the mat.
I'll keep checking back to see if anyone else has advice and maybe let you know how it's going in a few weeks.
He's also thinking about taking the karate class that I have starting there in the spring.

01-25-2006, 10:17 AM
I agree with Daren. Let him define his limits with the knowledge that you ony expect him to train within his capabilities.

01-25-2006, 10:22 AM
please keep us updated on how he does, and how you do teaching him. There is alot ot be said about modern prostetics, some of them are getting to be almost as good as a the real thing, infact its estimated that eventually a person with a prostesis will break the record for running the mile.

01-25-2006, 05:09 PM
I'm just palying it by ear with him but I'm hoping for some advice on how to work with him.
Enter and blend with wisdom and compassion.
I have run marathons and triathlons with one legged athletes.

I attended a brilliant workshop with Sensei Molly Hale at the last Aiki Expo.

You two will figure it out together on the mat.

With all my support, compliments, and deep appreciation.

01-26-2006, 09:23 AM
I've had experience of two students with prosthetic legs.

Both were fine, the only injury related to either student was when one of them "kicked" a fellow student in the head with his false leg whilst taking ukeme. Knocked him out stone cold. Otherwise no problems.

Remember also that Sugano Sensei in New York recently aquired a prosthetic foot. He describes it as "a good challenge".

Enjoy your mutual learning experience.

01-28-2006, 10:38 AM
The disabled student shows exceptional courage and conviction. You are right to encourage him, to let him test and overcome his limitations. People with the character of this student are infectious in the dojo, and training with joy is the real way to train. Be mindful of the disabilities when administering the curriculum, discuss them (privately) with the student if there is any confusion, and make allowances when testing for rank. Your other students will understand if not all expectations are exactly equal. In fact, you may find them to be overprotective of the disabled student. And most of all, LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE. It will prove a useful lesson in the future.