How A One Armed Student Studies Martial Arts


Bobby lost his left arm because of a childhood infection, but it didn’t slow him down. He rode bikes, climbed trees, and did everything a child is supposed to do, except for one. He never did the martial arts, he figured he had finally found the one thing he would never do.

When a martial arts dojo opened up in his neighborhood, however, he could not stop thinking about it. He would pass by slowly, staring at the kids working out inside. He would ask his friends who studied martial arts endless questions, but he never went inside the dojo because he knew that there was no way he could do that physical discipline.

One day a friend of his invited him to the dojo to witness a promotion. Bobby went, and watched, and sadness ate at his heart like a chainsaw chews trees. After the demonstration and promotion, Bobby was introduced to the instructor, who invited him to study the martial arts.

“I don’t see how I could,” said Bobbie, “since I only have one arm.” The instructor smiled and merely said that having one arm wasn’t a problem. He held that all things are possible to a man with a whole heart.

So Bobbie began learning martial arts. He threw himself into the practice like a starving man attacked a plate of food, and he made good progress. Unfortunately, the instructor, while he would show Bobby all the techniques, would only let him work on one specific technique.

Day after day, week after week, Bobbie worked on this one technique. Dutifully, he worked out the problems with his execution until he could do the technique in his sleep. Still, the instructor would not let him move on.

One day, the instructor came up to Bobbie after class and said, “I’ve entered you in a tournament.” Bobbie was aghast, he just knew he was going to be pummeled like a dirty rug and tossed like a rag doll. Still, he trusted his instructor, so he went to the tournament.

He faced his first opponent, and when the attack came, he used the one technique and won the match. And he used that one technique to defeat the second opponent, and the third. When the end of day came, Bobbie had won the tournament!

The next day Bobbie went to class and thanked his instructor. “The thing I don’t understand,” remarked Bobby, “is why that technique always worked!” His instructor grinned and said, “The only defense for that technique, in all the martial arts, is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

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