These days I find myself tied up with rubber bands, lunging onto equipment that has been made purposely to be unstable and working my muscles until they ache and beg me to stop. My ice bag has become my newest friend. Working through pain has been come a regular part of my life.
These past months have been the most physically challenging of my life. My knee injury and the lack of activity following it had a profound negative effect on my whole leg as well. To sum up what my Physical Therapist told me, the work I did to build my larger muscles put stress on the smaller supporting ones. The result was muscle fatigue and tightness. The injury was basically my legs screaming, “enough!”
The cure has been a concentrated effort of PT on flexibility in my hips and target strengthening of my knees and hip flexors.
Currently I still walk with a slight limp. I’m not free to do any twisting kicks or to kick any solid targets.
I’ve been back in class, where I modify the workout to my new requirements. On the nights I’m not in class, I do my PT exercises. I also do PT every morning. I ice my knee often.
This has been a huge exercise in patience! It is hard to stick with all this when only seeing the smallest hints of progress. There are days I wonder how much I will be able to recover. Sometimes at night, after class or a PT session I have to claw my way up the stairwell, hanging onto the railing and wall like some monster rising from a pit.
Did I leave my book downstairs? Crap, now I have to go down and come back up… again?
Progress has been slow, very slow. Only this week have I finally been able to lock my right knee out again so my leg is completely straight. So my legs are getting stronger, but slowly.
However, as the saying goes, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” There has been some good coming out of the last few months!
Recently I have joined forces with another man my age and this has added an awesome new dimension to my practice.
I have always respected Rick, a 3rd Dan Black belt from my school. His great attitude and indomitable spirit stands out to me in a sea of young people where I often find myself lost. Rick had come to symbolize to me that I can do it, I can make it and that I’m actually not crazy for trying.
Or maybe Rick is just as crazy as I am, but either way I enjoy his friendship.
Recently Rick has come to join me on Saturday mornings at my home Do Jang. This allows us to work on many of the aspects of Taekwondo that our school does not focus on.
And we work at a pace we can’t always get in a class designed primarily for the young.
First there is extra stretching that people our age need. Rick introduced me to a form of stretching that combines isometric tension and stretching. The result is remarkable. We have both seen some progress with this in only a few short weeks.
We are also able to work on one step fighting. Basically one person throws a punch while the other works on countering with a predetermined set of movements. The benefit of these exercises cannot be stressed enough. Through these time-honored practices, we are able to work on timing for defenses, control of movements and targeting an actual human body with our punches and kicks.
Rick and I also combined our warm-up routine with working with the bo staff. It is amazing how much of a workout you can get, going back and forth practicing attacks and counter attacks with a bo. We are a far cry from the speed of Master Po and Cain in the opening sequence of the “Kung Fu” TV Series, (although I often have this in mind as we work back and forth...) but we are working slowly and deliberately. Speed will come.
I truly am thankful to be able to practice with Rick. For whatever reason, our school does not offer an adults only class, so being able to practice with someone my own age, who sees Martial Arts training the same way I do, has been a huge blessing to me.
So each day I work to get better, and I push forward to my Black Belt Goal.
Check out my Youtube Channel "Keep Kicking"
Keeping in mind the words of Sang Kyu Shim, “If the martial arts practitioner concentrates on (or “invests in”) one basic technique a day, striving for complete perfection, he will, after even one year, have accumulated a wealth of techniques that no money can buy and no thief can steal. The individual does not have these qualities so much as he is them.”