Fighting with a Disability

The loss of a limb 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.

Points of safety

When our abilities become limited, it is possible to overcompensate. Be aware of your control and make sure to maintain safe fighting techniques when disabled. We don’t use disabilities as opportunities for silly survival. The dead limbs are in fact dead, and won’t remain a part of the fight.

  • Control In Any Situation: It doesn’t matter what disability you are given. You still need to maintain control of the fight. Be aware of giving hard shots.
  • Limbs Are Out of the Fight: If you lose a limb, it is completely out of the fight.
  • Opportunity for Chivalry: While not required, if you take someone else’s limb, it is chivalrous to give your opponent an opportunity to adjust before continuing the fight.

General Points

It’s important to understand the specific rules for reacting to a non-lethal injury. The fight is not over, but your strategy will need to change. Practicing fighting with a disability can help prepare you for those moments so you know what possibilities are still available to you.

  • Don’t Give Up: Just because you lost a limb, the fight is not over.
  • Losing a Hand: If you’re struck between your wrist and fingertips, your hand becomes a stub. If you’re struck again on the stub, you lose your entire arm.
  • Losing an Arm: If you are struck between your wrist and shoulder, you lose the arm. Be aware that depending on the angle of a shoulder shot, it may be considered a staple and a death.
  • Losing Your Legs: If you are struck between the pelvis and toes on either leg, you lose both legs. Immediately drop to the ground. You can either kneel or sit, but as low as you go is as low as you stay. Again, be aware that depending on the angle of an upper leg shot, it may be considered a staple and a death.
  • Fighting Against a Wounded Opponent: When an opponent is disabled, you have the advantage – use it. Depending on how they are wounded, you can adjust your strategy accordingly.

Training Ideas

  • Forced Handicap: Decide on a disability and train it.
  • Look Ma, No Legs: Practice sitting/kneeling in different positions to see what you’re most comfortable with.
  • Get Back in the Fight: Even while at a disadvantage, train how to stay in the fight both mentally and physically. Look for ways to regain the advantage.


What we’re looking for are fencers who, after losing a limb or being faced with a disadvantage, will continue fighting. They’ll maintain the Safety, Honor, Attitude, and Skill they showcase normally. These rules can also be used strategically in melee or perhaps as an opportunity to display Chivalry. No matter the situation, we hope fencers who take this lesson can take to heart the principles and keep fighting.

What’s NEXT?

  • Suggested Next Lesson: Basic Offhand could be helpful to practice working with both hands. Even swapping which hand you hold your sword in. Advanced Movement could also be beneficial to study how movement affects the fight and how you might overcome things when you or your opponent lose the ability to move.
  • Activities to Try: Pick a number of fights where you will begin each fight already in a disadvantaged position. Work through each fight and identify what challenges you overcame or would have to overcome to be confident if this happened on the fly.
  • How Long to Work On This: Learning to fight with a disability takes time. Try to aim for 2-3 weeks where you are often fighting with the opposite hand, one-handed, or legged. Even fighting with your non-dominant hand for an entire month can be a good study. In any case, make every situation a learning opportunity.