Body and Spirit

Training in a Martial Art carries some risk. After all, it is not like playing tidily-winks or attending a sewing-bee. It can be argued even those have risks, a wink in the eye or a needle in the thumb. Still, the risk in Martial Art training should be obvious. Always be aware there is the possibility of accidental injury.

If you train long enough, and especially if you train hard, you will receive some damage. All instructors worth their salt can recount a list of training injuries. That does not mean you should set out to be hurt or to hurt others. Your first goal in training is to prevent injury to yourself and your partners.

Protect yourself by being open with your fellows. If your partner is too intense, ask them to back off. If they refuse to comply, speak with your instructor, who will find a more suitable partner for you. Likewise, be willing to recognize you may be the aggressive one and the partner you are currently working with is not up to your intensity. Often instructors will provide these types of mismatches to help the stronger to learn to tone down and be sensitive, and to get the weaker to recognize they need to scale up.

Even as you give attention to protecting yourself, it is likely you will be hurt. Sometimes the little expected hurts, a bruise, a thump that really sinks in, a slightly tweaked joint. There are times shaking it off and working through it is just the thing to do.

However, many Martial Artists seem to take the “shake it off” meme too far. They continue to train through injuries that should be signs to back off. Pain is a single something is not right. When pain persists well after class is over something is probably seriously wrong. If you are a Martial Artist, you have interest in your body. You have to learn to listen to it. In some cases, the only cures are doctors, time, and allowing the body to mend itself. Pushing only extends the life of the injury and does not make you stronger.

Recognize illness is not injury. Your partners cannot catch your broken arm, but they can catch your flu. If you are sick, stay at home in order to get well as quickly as possible. Avoid contaminating your partners, creating a vicious cycle of illness running through your school. Pushing through an illness may make you feel tough, but it also means you are being unduly rough.

Even serious injuries do not mean you have to stop training, but they do mean you have to change how you train. Currently, a student at KDA has a chipped metacarpal bone. Another just underwent surgery to repair an ankle tendon damaged a long time ago. These types of accidental but severe injuries need special attentions and time. That does not mean sitting on the sofa for two months.

A large part of training is mental and spiritual. If you are able to move about, you can train in some fashion. With a boot on your leg or a splint on your arm, you have to take special cares, but leaving yourself out of the training loop is to give in and give up. You can train your mind and train your spirit while you give your body time to heal.

In worst cases, attend classes and watch. It is better than sitting at home watching the boob tube or vegetating. If nothing else, it will keep you from going stir crazy. Engagement will help improve the healing process.

In median cases, if you can move about, be sure your instructor knows of your injury. It should be a positive training moment for everyone concerned. In street combat, it is entirely possible to have a damaged hand or not be as mobile on one leg. Your instructor should be able to find alternate approaches for you and your partner to work with, increasing everyone’s awareness of the real world possibilities.

Train your body to the extent it is capable. Never stop training your mind and spirit.


About Sifu

I teach Wing Chun, both traditional and practical, at KDA Karate Academy. I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager. In addition to being a Martial Arts Instructor, I am an author. My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge".

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