Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tang Soo Do: The injury and the poem.

A while ago I read a poem.
“I fight.Not simply with my opponent. I fight  With the demons of doubt, With my exhaustion, With my past failures, With my injuries, With my anonymity, With the unrelenting voice that tells me to stop. But I am a fighter.And one thing is sure: I will be victorious.”

I simply love this poem because it encompasses all the problems that a martial artist - from the Bruce Lee-Chuck Norris-Van Damme-cool-and-strong-guy type to the most out of shape-sucky-guy  type like me - will face.
When I joined my Tang Soo Do dojan, as with many other activities, I did not realize how difficult it would be. The most important thing I failed to understand is that the difficulty is not only physical, but mental too.
It is incredibly hard to go and practice after a tiring or boring day at work. It is hard to kick and punch without a decent physical flexibility. Much of it is often discouraging; I find myself asking “what am I doing in this dojan? I am overweight, I am not flexible and my core strength would be considered a joke by most human beings, let alone martial artists!”. I feel mental and physical pain many times, but luckily my family and most of my fellow practitioners are supportive and amazing.
Right now, I am injured. The doc told me I have plantar fasciitis and, as he described, some “internal bruises” in my foot. A google search would confirm how common it is and how painful it could be (get informed and find what to do to prevent it, such as good shoes and stretching). It is not a tragedy, but still something that gets in the way of life. When I asked the doc about martial arts he told me that I will have to avoid any martial arts training for at least a month, then if pain is gone I might try to practice using shoes with arch support. Otherwise I will have to wait at least three months before I can come back. He was happy that I went to see him as soon as the problem started showing, but he was very afraid that it could get out of control. Apparently plantar fasciitis is very unpredictable and subjective; many people were left out of their favorite training even for several years.

Here’s the thing. How will I react? I have never been consistent; sometimes I would miss two weeks of training in a row, sometimes I would go there every day. Life and spur of the moment get in the middle sometimes.
But today, I want to react. This small, stupid, common, injury made me think about the need for a change. Radical changes will be needed in diet, training, and especially, mentality. I weight about between 180 and 185lbs. I have to reach 160-165lbs. And most of the fat I don’t lose will need to become some sort of muscular tissue.
So here, I have two choices:
1)      Wait three months, don’t practice, stay in front of the TV and just wait while I slowly turn into a potato.
2)      Exploit and insult this injury, by training, losing weight, gaining some muscles and flexibility.
I hereby declare that I will take the second option. I know that my family and tang soo do friends will support me even on this journey.
Basically, I will use this time off… to get better! No distractions, no complications. There is only one goal: to get better.
This is how I have to see myself:


I will have to not worry even if I will probably look like this:

So, here’s what I am planning (my other plan, the writing routine plan, is perfectly working. I am at almost 5000 words and I am probably 10/15 days ahead than planned). I will go to the gym every week day - It doesn’t matter if it is for 15 minutes or 2 hours because what I need the most right now is a routine - and I will do one or more of the following:
a.       Cycling (doesn’t affect plantar fasciitis)
b.      Elliptical
c.       Swimming
d.      Stretching
e.      Lift weights (upper body only at first and very light weight training for legs if I don’t feel any pain)

In addition I will change my diet but without being paranoid. A good steak or a good barbecue might not be the best and leanest choices but they might bring some happiness, which is a necessary element in any effort, even if it requires more gym work. Breakfasts will have to be more nutritious and a more positive attitude.
If I don’t have any problem after two weeks I will start throwing punches at the punching bag at the dojan, pivoting my feet and snapping the waist as I should but without any jump.
This is what fighting with my past failures and with my injuries means; I will make the unrelenting voice stop telling me to stop. And when I go back to train, I will be better than when I left. This is what a martial artist does and this is the most important teaching I learn from the higher belts in my dojan;  I just hope to be able to do it. Wish me luck.

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