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Posts Tagged ‘Frustration’

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts About It:

Friday, May 28th, 2010

“Hello, my name is Wintor and I’m addicted to kung fu.”

That was how I introduced myself when I started the instructor program a hunnerd years ago. When I was asked what it was about kung fu that hooked me, I said that it helped me slow my brain down; that it made me put aside everything that went on throughout the day, forcing me to focus on something outside my brain and trust me, that is no small feat.

After recovering from almost a month of upper respiratory funk where I wasn’t able to breathe and could only train minimally, I wound up in my enthusiasm of feeling better, dislocating my shoulder. I was completely out of commission for about two weeks before I relocated my shoulder and started feeling better. Once again, in what was at that point, almost overwhelming enthusiasm to be able to train again, I reinjured myself in weapons class. However this time the injuries were severe enough (and stupid) that I finally had to admit that although I had no problem working through the pain, I was doing more damage to myself than I was making myself stronger.

It was determined that I needed to see an orthopedic shoulder doctor and after some pulling of strings and some behind-the-scenes schedule manipulations, I met with the doctor who immediately sent me off to have an MRI (which is another story entirely in itself). When I met with him again he told me that based on what he saw on the scan, surgery was totally dependent on how I chose to handle things. He told me that he wanted me to see a physical therapist twice a week for two hours at a time for a month and then looked me in the eye and coldly said two things that got my attention: “I can see you’re going crazy, not being able to work out, but unless you want surgery you need to do exactly what I tell you. Ultimately it’s up to you.” and “Physical therapy only; no running and No.Martial.Arts.” At that point, if you included the upper respiratory funk, I’d been unable to train for about four months.

I’ve been told a lot that I can be a hard person to read, but I don’t buy it anymore. In one week I met two complete strangers who within 10 minutes knew exactly how to speak to me so that I accepted everything they said without rebuttal; the shoulder doc and the physical therapist who, for two hours a day, twice a week for a month laughed at my every attempt to finagle, wheedle and charm her into letting me do more physically.

When I started physical therapy she had some concerns that were based on the severity of my injuries and the extreme level of pain I was in daily (anywhere from 7.5-9 out of 10) on whether the amount of physical therapy prescribed was going to be enough to keep me out of surgery. For the first week and a half she would have me do a few very small exercises (which hurt me into delirium) for the first hour and then would spend 30 minutes tirelessly ultrasounding me and another 15 minutes would be spent with my shoulder completely wrapped in ice packs. After two weeks of working, ultrasounding, massaging and icing my shoulder still hadn’t relaxed enough for the inflammation to go down so she decided to tape my shoulder blade in place for a week. There was a pretty decent setback at the beginning of week three and she started to get worried – we were running out of time and she wasn’t sure the small amount of progress I’d made was going to be enough to keep the surgeons at bay. My list of exercises got smaller and more refined but more weight or resistance was added and our time was split evenly between exercises and her alternating between massaging my shoulder and manipulating the actual injuries – to the point where I would literally see stars and become nauseated. Somehow, somewhere within the last two visits my body worked; my range of motion and strength doubled and my pain was only registering a 3 or 4. When she signed off on my sheet and was saying goodbye she was optimistic for the first time in a month.

When Sifu suggested I write about my experience with being injured and how I dealt with it I wasn’t exactly sure how I would talk about it. Because honestly? I’m not sure I’ve dealt with it very well at all. In the five and a half months that I have either been sick or injured and unable to train I have learned that I am a very very physical person and that I have to have the physical to balance the cerebral. Oh. My. Goodness, there’s been a lot of cerebral going on. These five and a half months have continuously taken me out of my emotional comfort zone, to ridiculous degrees, which only compounded the barrage on my brain: for a while I would be jealous of strangers I would see in the park or running down the road and I still continue to experience intense frustration at my limitations; I experienced a prolonged period of discouragement, in which I seriously considered quitting kung fu; as a fairly independent person, I’ve had to ask people for various degrees of help, which I’m not accustomed to doing; and the hardest for me, through all of it I’ve had to rely on people; kung fu brothers & sisters, old friends and even a relatively new friend for emotional support which not only launched me into the stratosphere of discomfort but has also humbled me beyond words.

So even though I did the work and was given the ok to slowly add in regular activities (“No sparring for a while Wintor, end of discussion.” Is my addiction really that apparent?), have been taking advantage of every chance at physicality I can get, and am slowly starting to get things balanced, my dealing with being injured is really so much more about the people that I’ve had the good fortune to surround myself with and how they continue to help me through it, no questions asked and no rebuttals.

Caramel Apples

Friday, February 19th, 2010

A couple years ago had you asked me, “What thoughts would go through your mind if someone walked up and pushed you?” I would have probably said that it would make me mad and I would push back. I know the correct response should have been to turn the other cheek, but as you can see I still don’t have the answers.

Just the other day, in a small kung fu class in the little town of Tyler, a couple of us guys were getting some instruction from the “Man” It had something to do with plucking, center, being empty, timing, and caramel apples I think. You’re saying, “Caramel Apples?” Yes, caramel apples, and believe it or not it was a great analogy. I think I described our lesson as a grenade going off in my mind. I had just enough know how to see it, but was unsure if I could ever really grasp the whole concept.

What’s bad is that this confusion isn’t after my first week of kung fu, or my first month or year, but I’m going into my third year now and the questions just get bigger, broader, and a little further apart. After talking with my sihings, they all have the same problem understanding. That gives me some comfort, but not much.

This is what keeps me training every week. It may sound weird to some. – why would you want to keep working so hard at something you will never fully understand? Because it’s that complex, it amazes me. More everyday. The more I think I know, the less I really understand.

So now when I get pushed, I’m wondering…Did my shoulders fold around the punch? Did they drop in the hole? Did they have my center? Were they empty when I plucked? And then I’m telling myself, I was off balance, they had my center, I was too late, or did he say get a beat ahead? Was I supposed to return the strike? I think I turned that time. Was I supposed to turn?

Then I SCREAM to myself, bow to the “Man”, and leave more confused than ever but I can hardly walk out the door.

Fighting the Frustration

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

In every student’s Kung Fu journey comes a point where they do not feel that they are progressing like they should. This has happened to everyone that has learned to fight in this way, back hundreds of years. It is completely normal, but it can be very frustrating.

It is very much like walking through a long, wide hall. One in which you cannot see the end, but you know that this is your path. While walking down this hall, you may all of a sudden you find yourself at a wall. In this wall there are many doors, but only one will be unlocked and available for your passage. After passing through that door you are again looking down another long, wide hall.

The halls are wide because each student’s journey through Kung Fu is different and each door represents a different solution. Sometimes the student will find the correct solution themselves and continue on their Kung Fu path, however help is usually needed.

Here are a few suggestions to move past this frustration:

  1. Play your forms with emphasis on applications. All of the fighting tools you need are in your forms. The more you play them, the more will come out when fighting.
  2. SLOW DOWN. The slower you go, the more time you have to think about something different to do or how to get out of a situation.
  3. Try new things and new people. Playing hands with someone new can often spur a new direction for you.
  4. Try focusing on a single principle/idea when fighting. Example; begin trying to catch people’s center by plucking.

Very often, the best thing to do is to ask a Ja Gow or Black Belt. We all love this stuff, and would love to spend some time with you to help you get better. Learning to fight at Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness can be a daunting task. It is certainly a slow and frustrating one, but it is also extremely rewarding.

Most of all, KEEP TRYING. As in most martial arts, you learn the most by doing something over and over and over and over again.