Fighting with a Disability

The purpose of the Fighting with a Disability lesson is to learn how to continue fighting despite a loss of a hand, arm, or legs.

For Teachers

Click the Button to jump to How to Teach Fighting with a Disability.


After each Block, a following attack could be performed safely and in a controlled manner. Be aware of the situation and understand when it may be safer to just block.

If you need a review of the 8 Basic Blocks, take a look at the Basics of Dueling lesson.

Fighting with a Disability

Loss of the Hand/Arm

The loss of a hand or arm is a very common occurrence in Fencing. Do not be discouraged when it happens to you. You need to keep fighting, believing that you can win even with a wound.

When you lose a hand, treat your remaining arm as you would a deathstick. Your forearm is a great defensive tool.

When you lose your arm, line your body behind your sword to make yourself the smallest target possible. Try not to leave your undefended shoulder out in the open. If you are uncomfortable fighting with your non-dominant hand, train beforehand.

Loss of Legs

When you lose your legs, you are now a Downed Fighter. You need to sit in a position that is most comfortable for you. Remember that once sitting, you cannot leave contact with your legs or the ground depending on if you chose to kneel or sit, but you can turn to face your opponent. You’re priority, at this point, is defense. The only thing you can do is stay alive and wait for your opponent to come close enough to that you can reach them.

Fighting Against a Downed Fighter

The main principle to remember when fighting a Downed Fighter is that you are in control of the fight. Your opponent has to wait for you before responding. Make a plan and go with it. You’re not guaranteed a win, but recognize that you have an advantage.

Journal Prompt

Which disadvantage do you struggle with the most? What can you do to improve?

Ready to move on?

You’ve completed the Fighting with a Disability lesson! Let’s continue with the final skills lesson before moving on to Melee Tactics: Rush Attacks.

How to teach

Fighting with a Disability


Use the following EDGE Method lesson summary to guide you along.


Explain what it means to fight with a disability and what to do when it occurs during a fight. Emphasize that a loss of a limb is not the same as a defeat and that a fight can still be won.

  • Loss of a Hand/Arm
  • Loss of Legs
  • Fighting Against a Downed Fighter


Demonstrate what to do with each disability and how it affects the fight. Demonstrate how to make the most of each disadvantage.


After demonstrating, have the students pair up and walk the students through each disability to help them understand the principles. Utilize the following drill to practice:

Fighting with a Disability Drill

Working in pairs, each student should take turns being the Attacker and the Defender. The Attacker’s role is to choose one of the disabilities to begin the duel with an attempt to win the fight, utilizing what has been taught. The Defender’s role is to fighting without any disabilities and fight they normally would and not to allow their knowledge of what the Attacker is doing to affect their actions. Switch roles and repeat as needed.


At this stage, each Novice should be able to utilize the Fighting with a Disability principles on their own. Run through the following challenge challenge before finishing:

Fighting with a Disability Challenge (Bear Pit of Disadvantage)

Forming a standard Bear Pit, each of the students will be given a disability by the Teacher and must win 3 fights before switching to a different disability as assigned by the Teacher.