Saturday, January 20, 2007

My martial arts path has been filled with painful boulders.

My good friend Mat left me with a comment that I feel deserves it's own posting:

Darn, Mireille!

What a list of injuries you just posted. ...

I'm sorry for saying those words I'm about to say and you might not like them.

- how about a pause??
- Shotokan karate is notorious for injuring its practicionners. ask chadie at thedojo.

My old Sensei didn't want to come back teaching (in shotokan) because of back injuries. He'd spend about 20 minutes before each class only streching to be able to stretch with us...
My current Sensei quit shotokan because of back injuries.

- How about a break where you only do forms "a la taichi"? With slow deliberate movements with only muscular contractions?

No matter what Sensei says, or my Sensei's sensei, for that matter, I train at home very slowly at first, no matter what amount of warm-up I do. Slow, slow, slow. When I get around Seisan, I'm ok for 80% speed.

I find that my motivation comes from the fact that my practice has evolved into something that's actually very good for my health. The various injuries I have had in the last year no longer feel stiff or sore and I feel in better shape (read more energy) since I adapted the karate to my body.

Sheesh, I don't know what to say... You do know that shotokan katas used to be done very slowly and softly, don't you? They were sped up during the last century. Particularily after the 2nd war. Shigeru Egami a student of funakoshi was amongst those who sped it up. Only to go back to softer and slower katas later on when he realized that efficiency didn't necesseraly pass through hard contractions/speed.

Funakoshi's words:
"In my training in the past we never did brutal things like those. In a real training you must be able to put a shoji door (wood frame with an extended paper sheet) on the ground and throw water on it. Train on the paper without ripping it and move without breaking the fine wood unions, train techniques with power. Do you understand why we must search for the technique?"

How many times did you read that in order to give good health, people sent their child to study karate?

I'm concerned about all these injuries. Please put your health forwards.

There are other ways to train.

And I know I'm preaching for my own village here, but how about reiki? It works for me...

Ask Charles E James from the isshindo club here :

Realizing that karate training was too hard for his body, he changed it, adding QiGong exercices (which I did too)

I could go on a very long time.

All I mean to say is :

Take care of yourself. Entering karate should help you get better health (which I know it did) and keep your health up. Not injure you.

I realize you probably know all this. Just take care.

10:00 AM

Here is my response:

Yes... It is true that I have quite a list of injuries as I train:

For those who are not aware:

a) I have a skin condition that flares up once in awhile. While it is inflamed it almost feels like I'm immersed in boiling oil, and every movement hurts. Therefore during karate there have been times when I tended to question whether blocking the oncoming punch will hurt more than just receiving it. There are moments when the skin will break and bleed spots onto my Gi. Therefore I have chosen to wear a T shirt, and white cotton Long Johns under my Gi Jacket and pants to protect my fellow karate students from stains when I train in Shotokan. During Kyokushin I wear my shin pads throughout class. Yes.. it is VERY hot to train with an extra layer of cotton upon me.

b) My heels have started to bother me when I'm jumping rope, or doing many kicks in a row. I believe that it is a form of tendonitis.

c) My shoulders definately have tendonitis as both of them are causing problems making it difficult for me to raise my hands above my shoulder level without sharp pains. I am actively working towards healing this at this moment.. I'll be putting ice on my shoulders after I finish typing everything out on the computer. Push ups are an impossibility for me right now.

d) My right hip had received soft tissue damage about 10 year ago when I had fallen and taken all the impact on my right knee. I was 9 months pregnant at the time, so there was nothing that really could be done to help it when it happened. I have gained in flexibility through training in karate, but it still hurts to do certain side kicks. Also, quick repeditive kicks will make my hips feel "swollen" and painful. It will even lock them so that I cannot raise my leg. However, if I give my legs a few minutes to rest.. ( and drain or something) I can resume kicking without pain.

e) I sprained my right wrist a few years ago. It has not fully recuperated. I find that certain martial arts techniques will send sharp pains up my arm. I have adapted some of my knifehands to be able to continue training.

f) Cramping. I have suffered from cramping of my muscles throughout most of my training. It is mostly my legs such as calves, and thighs that act up. I'll do some quick stretching, and then resume my stance, and continue training.

g) I hurt my back recently. I was suffering from a skin flare up. As I was putting on my shoes I lost my balance, and ended up crashing into a hook into the wall which imbedded itself beside my spine. It's getting better now, but sit ups are quite painful when I lay my torso down on the ground.

h) Breathing. When I stress my lungs too much, I will start to have quite a difficult time breathing. I suffered from bronchitis as a child, and it is/was quite normal for me to taste blood in my mouth after running. I can happilly say that this side effect of physical effort is not presenting itself as frequently. My cardio-vascular abilities have improved 100 fold.

Yes, Mat. I am aware that the Shotokan style has developed a reputation for being difficult on the body. I can see how difficult it is to continue the sharp, strong, outbursts of power that this style needs as a body ages. There have been times when I have felt my joints complain at the power of my the sudden starts, and stops that I needed to do to achieve the exercise that was being asked of us. However, through experience, and study.. I have noticed that one can successfully learn to become fluid, and strong at the same time. I've learned to become water and ice as I did my kata. I've learned that I needed to treat my body as a 42 year old's and not try to force it to act like a 15 year olds.

- how about a pause??

Well Mat.. I really enjoy training in Karate. It has become more than just a hobby. It is a part of me. Even if I were to stay home, I'd still be doing a variety of Karate moves. I LOVE kata.. and it's FUN when it's done at full speed. I can value Tai Chi very much. I can see so much contained within it. There may be a time when I start walking down that path, but right now I enjoy what I have. The majority of my injuries come from a lifetime of bad eating, and inactivity. I didn't start exercising until I was 39 years old. I'm not surprised that my body is reacting by all of these little "issues". The physical problems have not stopped me, or discouraged me. In fact, I'd like to say that I have developed a humble, persistant, and courageous spirit by the limitations that these problems have caused within my training environment. I know that my continuing efforts to improve my eating habits, lower my weight, and enhance my physical stature will bring me better and better results in the future.


[Mat] said...

Hi again, Mir.

I understand the addictive side of karate. I'm living in it right now.

I bow out. Respecting your choice and acknoledging all the efforts you put into your training and your body.

At first, reading your list of hurting parts, I couldn't help but think : woah... press the stop button someone!

Understand that this was not done in an outcry to discourage you.

But rather as an act of friendship to understand and help you.

Be well,


supergroup7 said...

I totally understand your motivation! If I was on the outside looking in, I'd feel inclined to say "Someone push the stop button!" Ha ha ha

I forgot to mention the fact that since I am a woman during training I will periodically suffer from the same monthly pms symptoms, and cramps that almost all women go through. I admire ALL women martial artists, and athletes for their dedication, and conviction as to continue training through all of those symptoms. Since all karate comes from the hara, and the hips, I can assure you that during those times of the month.. my hara does not feel too good. I usually dread every exercise when the painful cramps are on me. Heck.. sometimes it hurts just to get up and walk.

Thank you for your concern, and comments dear friend.

Ralph Charlton said...

The article is very interesting and all women martial artists, and athletes for their dedication, and conviction as to continue training through all of those to see more about the martial arts
/marshal arts