You the trainee

While my approach to self defense is from a JKD perspective, hopefully it will give you some insight into how to develop your own self defense techniques.

Remember learning martial arts is a two way approach, learn from your instructor, and at all times be honest with him. If a technique does not work, say it and move on and find one that does.

Using a wheelchair does reduce the choice of techniques available. Consequently one has to focus on hand work. However Bruce Lee always maintained that good self defense was about knowing a couple of techniques well rather than just accumulating techniques. As a wheelchair user you will need to be aware of two important factors.

1. The balance that you have in your wheelchair. 
How far forward or to the side can you lean before you compromise your balance? If you look at any of the pictures on this page you will see that we keep our backs against the back of ourwheelchairs. This is because we have no balance if we lean forward.

2. The control that you have of your wheelchair.
If you use a lightweight sports wheelchair, check how easy it is for the wheelchair to tip backwards. While I know some of you have
astonishing control of your wheelchair, ask yourself if it is limiting your self defense options.

If your wheelchair is very prone to tipping backwards you may need to look at this or get a physiotherapist familiar with adjusting wheelchairs to have a look at it for you, or look at adding an anti-tip bar. Most chairs can be adjusted.

Consider joining a marital arts club. Check out magazines for listings. While the cornerstone of what we are showing you on this website is JKD , you may have to look at a different style to get a foundation in the basics, while applying the principles of this website to what you are learning in a club.

Ideally what you are looking for is a club that has a good self defence programme and a teacher who is willing to look at your specific needs and who is willing to adapt their programme to meet your needs. Suggest he refer to this web site.

Looking at your disability and honestly assessing what is possible.

Ask yourself: What is my balance in my wheelchair like? I know when I got involved in looking at self defense techniques for myself I had to totally reassess my balance in my wheelchair. While my balance was ok for most day to day activities I was doing I soon realised if I was going to be able to practice good self defense techniques I had to look at how I could optimise my balance. This meant looking at the height of the back on my chair and the angle of my seat
until I reached a point were my balance was as good as my level of injury would allow.

While the examples of techniques I have used on this website work for me, you have to honestly asses if they are the most suitable techniques for you. If a technique does not work a 100% for you discard it immediately. When Declan and I were looking at techniques there were some techniques that worked for Declan but did not work for me and visa versa.

Take the Jeet Kune Do approach “use what works” then real self defense for you as a wheelchair user “is very real”.

Use your chair, people don’t know what its going to do. If you face your assailant he/she has to reach over your lap to grab or strike you. Remember what Bruce Lee said, “Use what you have”.

Strikes and Punches

While I have said that people have to reach to strike or grab you this also means that because you are sitting your range is smaller, so the important thing is to fight within your range, make your assailant come to you and fight within your zone. “Don’t over stretch, this will reduce the power of your strike, but will also upset your balance.”
Never put your brakes on because your chair will tip over either when your assailant strikes or grabs you or even when you strike or grab him.

There are thousands of styles to defend yourself, but the trick is to do a few well. The reason you have been chosen as a target is because your average thug is a coward. Your attacker is looking for an easy target and, lets be honest, most people assume because you use a wheelchair that you are the perfect target.

Your first advantage. 

Your attacker thinks it’s going to be a piece of cake. “Wrong”. With the right and honest approach to your training you can learn a number of basic techniques that will go a long way towards making it much more difficult for an attacker.

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