Saturday, June 14, 2014

Injury: Just Train

Recently, one of our adult students sustained a serious injury to his left hand.


Besides being incredibly painful, he was thinking that there was no way he could train while he was injured.  After all, we do stuff like this:

When he came by to tell us what had happened (it was completely un-martial-arts related) and tell us he wouldn't be able to train, not only was he in pain, but I could tell he was pretty upset to think that he'd be out of training for months.  Given that he's also facing the prospect that his injured hand may never be the same again, he's just not in a good place right now.

So, I grabbed a soft stick (we use Action Flex) and got him - slowly - to use his right hand, and learn how to hold his left out of the way as to minimize the risk of getting hit - and we started training.

We're working on classical strikes of Arnis - ocho-ocho, banda y banda, abanico, and the like - and I had him hit the bag.  Not hard and fast, but slowly, focusing on technique, footwork, and targeting.
Bruce Chiu doing the abanico strike.
 Learn more here.
Now, this student tends to be very concerned about power, sometimes to the detriment of his technique, and is always trying to force himself to make the optimum strike (versus taking what presents itself).  He comes from a martial arts background that is more in the "one and done" school of thought.  When you are working with a lighter weapon, no matter how sharp, you can't depend on that strategy.  It has to be more like  "Hit them until they quit wiggling".

I'm hoping that as we get him into a routine again, that he'll see that he can absolutely keep training, even with his seriously injured left hand, and he will make progress.  Not only that, the nature of his injury is presenting him with an opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds than he might have otherwise, as it's very difficult to do power striking with the injury he has.

For example, he can't make what might be the "optimal strike" much of the time, as he doesn't have an alive hand to make many of them work. So now he just has to see what is there, and take those strikes instead.

I have a lot of sympathy for this student, as I once was also in the same situation (it was a torn calf muscle and I couldn't walk) pretty early in my martial arts life.

I didn't miss a single class - in fact, I got hurt on a Wednesday, and I attended a seminar on Saturday (my first one).  I watched the other students, I did what I could sitting in a chair, and I read through Professor Remy Presas' "Pink Book" and "Yellow Book", doing sinawali and such in the air without weapons.  It took about two months before I could actually fully participate in class.

I know these books WELL.
I didn't progress as fast as my classmates, but I did not STOP progressing.  I actually learned a few things that my husband, who started in the art the same time I did, still doesn't quite get the way I do.

My student can do the same thing, if he sticks with coming to class.  I think we've found a solution for him, and it's a big opportunity if he chooses to see it as such.

You can do the same thing in your art, when faced with injury.

You see an injured guy on crutches, I see a guy with two blunt
 weapons and a great place to stash a knife.

If you do a striking art, and you hurt your hand(s) - why not work on footwork?  Ever do a kata footwork only?  How about footwork only and backwards (last movement first, and so on).

If you do an art that really requires you to stand up and you can't - why not sit down and work on your hands?  You can practice some of the motion of striking - slowly, you don't have to do it with power, pay attention to mechanics.

If you injure your strong hand, train with your weak hand (and of course, vice-versa).  Practice your kicks, even if yours is not a big-time kicking art.

At  the very least, attend class and pay attention to what is being taught, even if you can't physically do it. You won't lose too much ground mentally, and you'll still feel like part of the community that is your training group.

Short of being laid up in a fully body cast, there's just no reason to avoid martial arts class.

Just train

Do you have advice on how to work around injuries in training?  Let us know in the comments!