Questions on teaching disabled person

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  • #129984
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    Anonymous
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    Hello, 
    Doess anyone have experience in teaching a disabled person?
    I am planning to teach D&T to a friend who’s breast cancer has relapsed and is going into chemo this time.  She also suffered Polio as a child and her legs are of very different length, one of them cannot bend so freely. I plan to teach her to do the whole form sitting down, but I have a couple of questions.
    1. For movement 2, I figured the body wouldn’t turn to maintain the 4 points, and the flicking arm still goes to the side, does the head turn to look through the hand?
    2. I am a bit stuck on movement 5. I am guessing the hand flicks are more forward at an angle. 
    3. Do the feet press on heel or ball accordingly?
    Thank you 
    Huailo

    #136747
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    Hi Huailo, great that you are going to teach this student. I have taught Dragon and Tiger to a number of significantly disabled people, since first certifying in 1996, including amputees with prosthetic limbs, many people with chronic diseases, many cancer patients and survivors, those partially paralysed through strokes, many over 80s with mobility and stamina issues, and all manner of others. Each person is different and you have to adapt the moves according to their abilities, you get a feel for this by careful trial and error. Get them to relax and feel at ease with what thy CAN do, especially if they are in a class with much more able bodied folk. If 1:1 remember that this can be quite an intense experience for both of you and stay well within the comfort zone for both of you. Avoid going anywhere near exhaustion! 70% rule or well below.

    I have personally seen a student with polio manage to strengthen their withered leg, and completely get rid of leg calliper and raised shoe. That was doing Wu Style tai chi, adapted to his abilities by a skilled EA SEnior instructor, but the principles would be the same for D&T. Adapt movements and build up load bearing, the longer leg bends more than the shorter one and will need additional little steps and weight shifts to turn, for instance. Will almost certainly need to keep flicking foot on the ground and hold on to a chair to start with, building strength.

    With move 2, remember that the arm doesn’t actually stick out to the side to flick, it is taken to/towards the side by the turn of the body. Therefore if a student can’t turn far, and actually many able bodied people can’t turn far to start with, the flicking arm is not turned far to the side. The head doesn’t turn independently of spine in Move 2.

    The strong will steal from the weak, so match the move on the stronger side to the weaker side. Although even this needs to be adapted if you have someone who is paralysed or has an amputation on one side of the body.

    Remember that keeping it light and fun will help someone who is feeling self conscious and a bit scared. They don’t need to be doing the movements well in order to gain benefit.

    Standing will be helpful, but try having a chair both in front of them and behind them so that the student can sit down suddenly if needed, and hold on to or grab the chair in front if balance is an issue. Strengthening the legs is important for pretty much everyone unless they have spine injury leg paralysis etc and arrive in a wheelchair. If they walk in, even with two sticks, they can undoubtedly benefit from doing leg work. Practising leg components rather than whole move to start with, doing arms separately while seated or without weight shift. So many ways to adapt…

    Using the mind to run the energy pathways is also helpful for teaching seated version to all if someone needs a break. You can get the whole class to take a Q&A break or all do this if you think a disabled student is struggling but won’t sit down unless others do too. Again, experience helps here. I often teach a group the sitting version of a move because someone in the group needs it during a particular class and I tell everyone that it might be useful one day, relating my own experince during recovery from major surgery and painful trauma. The hospital bed version came in very handy for me too.

    #136748
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    Anonymous
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    Thank you so much Jane for this very detailed and helpful advice!!!

    #136749
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    Anonymous
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    Thank you so much Jane for this very detailed and helpful advice!

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