Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aches and Pains and Bruises, Oh My!

I am superstitious. I am afraid to say the sentence I wanted to use as my opening sentence. But I'm going to try to be practical about it and just walk under the doggone ladder…

Nope, never mind…can't do it…too superstitious…can't bring myself to write it, so instead, I'll say "In life, pain is inevitable" (I don't know to whom I should credit that quote, but it was someone wise.)

Aches - ah yes. I've had my share of painful but non-threatening injuries in the short year I've been involved in martial arts. If you count shear pain from punishing muscles you didn’t' know existed in the warm-up/work out before class, then I could be called a veteran. One of our senseis is known for her killer ab exercises. We all cringe when she tells us she's all excited about a new ab video she received the week prior to class. (We actually considered trying to bribe her UPS man into not delivering any packages that look to be the size of a VHS tape or DVD.) And I still talk about the time, not that long ago, that we did 3 sets of ten deep knee bends. No big deal, right? That's what I thought too. On the last ten, we sprang up to jumping from the lowest knee position. OUCH! And the soreness I had right after those 30 deep knee bends was cake compared to how the thigh muscles directly above my knee felt for the next two days. It was excruciating. Truly painful. That was the day before July 4th. I know this because we went to our community center to watch fireworks and could not get a parking spot close to where we were going to sit with friends. So, we did the stairs. Heading back to the car, I dreaded going back up the steps, but figured if I held onto the hand rail and went up very slowly, one shaky leg at a time, I'd get to the top before my son had to be back at school in August. When I reached about the 3rd step from the top, I came face-to-face with two girls younger than me (trust me…it matters) carrying a cooler the size of a footlocker. As they stared me down, they shifted the weight of the cooler, waiting for me to move over. I glared right back. I wasn’t budging from that handrail. If life had a soundtrack, "High Plains Drifter" would have been the background music for that moment. I finally shot them a pitiful, pleading glare, looking for an ounce of sympathy for my situation. And it worked - either out of sheer pity or utter frustration on their part, the two girls relented. They moved over and lugged the big, heavy box down the middle of the stairs. Ah, victory. I finally made it to the top of the steps and then realized I had to walk another quarter of a mile to the car.

So, that was the aches. Now the pains from actual injuries. If you read the blog when I first started, I talked about "Walking the Gauntlet" in the post where I admitted that sparring intimidated me. I don’t think I mentioned that I was hit twice that night. Both were accidents, of course. The first, a roundhouse to one of my "girls". Dead center and hard. The person knew he had made contact, but had no idea as to where. He asked if I was okay. I said yes in the female equivalent of a guy's high pitched voice after being kicked in the groin. I turned away for a second and regained my composure. Like the deodorant ads always say, "Never let them see you sweat." (Well, they see me sweat a lot, but I was determined I was not going to let this get me down.) I have a pretty high pain threshold and I did okay. When it was my turn to walk the gauntlet, I was headed down the "aisle" of attackers on both sides, when all of a sudden, I saw a white light and some stars and a couple of those cute little canaries circling around my head. All joking aside, I saw a flash of white and realized that an overzealous teen student known for his impulsiveness had accidentally punched me in the nose. He apologized and then went on to anxiously lie-in-wait for his next victim. Nobody seemed to notice, and I brought no blood back on my hand when I checked my nostrils, so I just "shook it off" and "laughed it off". I was okay after being punched in the nose, hard, by a guy about a foot taller than me, or more (again, trust me - it matters).

Take it from me - If you own shin guards, wear them! If you do not own shin guards, GET THEM! I had not used shin guards for the first few times I sparred. Then when Sensei placed an order, I decided to get a pair upon the recommendation of, well, EVERYONE. I received them when the order came in, but we were not sparring that night so didn't need them. About 2 weeks later, we had a few minutes left over of class and it was decided we would do some "light sparring" for the last few minutes.

"Oh, I don't need my shin guards for that little bit of time."

Famous last words. We started sparring with one person. The first person kicked me in the right shin. No biggie. I mean, it was not pleasant, but it was not all that painful. I did make a mental note to wear my shin guards next time we sparred regardless. After a few minutes, we were to move on to another sparring partner. I moved on to "Rose". Rose proceeded to wail on me. Not really. Just kidding - because I know she reads my blog! LOL! But she did kick me in the exact same spot as the previous sparring partner had - right shin. Okay, after I got up off the floor from the impact, crying and…just kidding again…time was pretty much up for the evening. Thank goodness, huh? As a result, my shin was not bruised the next day or even the next few days. But about 4 days later, a dark purple spot started to form. Over the course of the next 7 days or so, it spread like red Kool-Aid on a quicker-picker-upper. Just the slightest touch made me painfully aware of its presence. I even temporarily stopped indulging in what I'm told is a bad habit - crossing my legs. There is still a strange little knot on my shinbone there. But at least it doesn’t hurt anymore.


As that painful purple stain faded to yellow and then faded away altogether, a new one was born on my upper arm almost to the shoulder. In our pressure point / joint locks class on Tuesday nights, a partner and I were practicing trying to get out of a chokehold from the ground. Well, we started experimenting out of curiosity, "Well, what would happen if we did this instead?" The other responded, "I don't know. Let's try it." And we did. And I went over and all was well. Then we were curious what the other teams had come up with. We watched as another team worked out different solutions to the same problem. We asked if what we had been experimenting with would work. We tried to describe the movements in words, but we just couldn't articulate the fine points which made our way different from what the other couple was doing. We said we'd just show them. Well, with the whole class watching, my partner and I went through all the motions except we didn't stop short of her throwing me. I went right on over and landed on my left upper arm. For a split second, I thought it was broken. Then the pain eased up and became a deep ache in my upper arm. On the drive home, it still hurt, but nothing like upon impact. A week later and two days later (today), it is about the greenish tint of "Old Greg" (search YouTube if you don't know who "Old Greg" is, and have a Bailey's on me) and it hurts to sleep on my left side. But it gets less and less painful each day.

But you want to know the funny thing? It's weird, but I kind of wear my bruises like badges of honor. (Probably more like a blotches of stupidity, but I prefer the honor thing, if it's all the same to you.)

17 comments:

Perpetual Beginner said...

Bruises are badges of honor, right enough.

I've never worn shin-guards. Something about how I fight seems to result in not many shin-clashes for me. They happen; they're painful, but not frequent enough to warrant the annoyance of a shin guard. I did wear forearm guards for a while at my first dojo, because I had developed a bad habit of stepping into my blocks, which made them really strong, but also left huge bruises all up and down my arms.

The badge of honor thing can backfire though. During the bruised forearm period I took a knee to my face, which colored up dramatically, and one of the clients at work slipped me a business card with the Domestic Violence Hotline number written on the back.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Oh, wow - how embarrassing. Did you explain or just let it go?

Steve said...

Starting at 36, I had my share of pain and bruises. The worst so far is a broken nose. I was sparring with a guy and as I came around his legs he brought his knee up right onto the bridge of my nose. Yowch!

I'm curious about the choke hold from the ground. If you describe the situation, I might be able to give you some pointers. :)

Perpetual Beginner said...

I just let it go. I'd already gotten a lot of commentary, and I was tired of being told that I should drop this insane karate thing immediately.

The knee impacted my left cheek and about a quarter of my face was purple and black - just in time for Thanksgiving! My parents were not amused.

Michele said...

Shin guards....priceless! A large purple shin bruise is what prompted me to buy shin guards.

In regards to bruises, I had a situation similar to Perpetual Beginner. I was taken to the ER with abdominal pain (gall bladder). The doctor and nurses kept looking at me and glaring at my husband. Eventually they came right out and asked about the mulitple bruises on both of my arms. I looked at my arms and immediately knew what they were thinking. I explained that we were working on self-defense during karate class and that is where the bruises came from. In retrospect, I am glad that the health professionals are trained to notice and ask about warning signs of domestic violence.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Steve, I probably used the wrong terminology. What we were doing is trying a standing technique on the ground to see if it would work the same. I was straddling my partner's waist and "choking" her with both hands. By accident, we found that if you are the victim in this case, if you use your own forearms to pull the attacker's forearms down to your chest and then use a bridge to throw them right on over. It worked for us anyway...and if it were a real attack, who cares if you hurt the attacker's shoulder/arm??? LOL!

And PB & Michele,
I can see how embarrassing (but also amusing) those situations could be. But you know, it's also kind of scary because people think you're trying to cover for your spouse out of fear. So, I would imagine hospitals would almost have to do extra research to ensure you really are involved in martial arts because anyone could say that.

Steve said...

Ah, seems reasonable. I've heard of this sort of thing.

It sounds like you're on the right track. That's very similar to one of the basic reversals we teach new students. Just don't forget to hook the foot, too, or bad guy will base out with that leg and either allow you to roll underneath him (where he can take your back) or keep you from bridging over.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Steve- the attacker "having our back" (and not in a good way) was our sensei's concern as well. It's a constant work in progress. Thanks!

Martial Arts Mom said...

Steve- the attacker "having our back" (and not in a good way) was our sensei's concern as well. It's a constant work in progress. Thanks!

pawpads said...

We get shin guards, mitts and gum shields in with our starter kits when we joined.
But there must be something in the water at the moment as I'm covered in bruises on both of my forearms.
I assume I got them at Karate last week, but can't for the life of me, remember why or how.

CrimsonPhoenix said...

Oh, wow. I can really relate to the whole shin thing. I knew right where you were going when you started off.

I have shin guards in my bag but didn't feel like putting them on one day --besides, I was told to hurry up. I sparred my 3rd dan instructor who outweighs me by more than a hundred pounds. We both raised our knee to throw a kick and you can guess what happened. My shin swelled and turned red immediately. Oh, and the same night, I also caught my little toe on the instructor' gi while throwing a kick and bruised those ligaments. It's also good to have foot pads that are the right size. Mine were too small. The bruise on my shin turned black and blue and lasted for over a week. I still have a knot there today and it's sensitive. Probably because I've reinjured it during other times when I didn't feel like putting on my shin guards. I guess I never learn. . .

My mom thinks it is strange that I consider the occasional bruise and bloody nose a badge of honor, but I do. :)

Martial Arts Mom said...

crimsonphoenix-
My mom is starting to worry too. She broke her arm about 2 wks ago and is in rehab ctr because she is not in best of health anyway, so when I was thrown and hurt myself in almost the exact same spot the next day...that didn't do anything to quell her fears either : )

Julie said...

I wear my bruises with pride too! I always like to think someone will say "eewww, how'd ya get that bruise?" and I'll say, ever so humbly, "aw, just from sparring" as if it's no big deal. Hasn't happened a single time; the question, I mean. But at least I know that they came from some hard work on my part!

minivannija said...

Oh yeah, shin/instep guards are a must! However, even I can find a way to bruise around that, especially when the top of my foot (right at the base of my toes) makes contact with the sharp bony elbow of a partner.

I've done that twice so far.

I do wear my bruises proudly....and my bloody knuckles from bag work. Sometimes we do "warrior training" where we punch bags for 1 minute, rest, 2 minutes, rest, then finish with 3 minutes. It's usually in the final 30 seconds when I realize I ripped up my knuckles.

Even though people joke that TKD is all about trying to kick each other in the head, we usually aren't allowed to kick higher than chest level when sparring.

Martial Arts Mom said...

I need to get moving on my heavy bag as well. I just need to get moving. I'm here to tell you - I wrote awhile back about m.a. being my great escape, but sometimes when trying to take things one day at a time, several days (weeks,months,years) attack at once. All I can tell you is it is hell being an only child with elderly parents in poor health...both emotionally and physically. And trying to do all the other things life throws at you at the same time...sometimes you just get so worn out physically and mentally, even the things you love the most take a backseat...But I gotta get that back to start feeling better. Gee, more than you wanted to know, right? Guess I have my next blog post, huh? LOL

Steve said...

Do you guys do a lot of bag work? If so, you may want to look into bag gloves (very cheap). As long as we're talking about protective gear. Bag gloves are essential.

Martial Arts Mom said...

Steve - yes I have bag gloves. I agree - totally necessary!