Wednesday, October 29, 2008
There is so much to learn. I do not expect to walk out of Studio 5 and feel like I know what I am doing. I leave looking forward to the next time I have the opportunity to attend class. Several people told me that Tai Chi takes a lifetime to learn. I believe it! My partner for push hands was the senior student. He advised me not to get frustrated and to give it time. I told him "that I do not expect to learn it quickly". I sensed that he was relieved to hear me say it. Apparently, students come and go and very few stick with it.
I see a similar phenomenon in the karate dojo. One of the first questions that a new student asks is "How long will it take to get a black belt?" The standard answer is to explain the recommended time requirements set by the Federation. I further explain that it depends on the amount of time they spend in the dojo and whether or not they take extended time away. I can almost hear the pages of the calendar flipping in their mind as they calculate an end date. This is ultimately a problem because they view earning a black belt as the end of their journey.
It is the beginning.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
There was a time that I felt defined by my injured knee. I longed to forget about it but each morning when I woke up my knee was holding me back. I searched the Internet looking for answers to my questions.
What will my knee be like in one year? Two?
Is karate changed forever? Will I need to stop training...forever?
What is in the incidence of re-injury?
How about the other knee?
What can I do to prevent re-injury?
So, what is my knee like today. Most days my knee is just a part of my leg. For those who experienced ACL reconstruction and recovery, this is a big deal! I have no pain or swelling during daily activities and full ROM. I try to go to the gym three (lately two) times a week to keep my knee healthy and strong. My knee functions pretty well during karate. There are a few movements that remind me that I once had knee surgery such as: kneeling longer than a few moments, jumping after a long workout and one-leg kneeling on my new ACL. I am cautious about flooring surfaces especially soft, mat-like flooring.
My knee has reached its potential and I accept its limitations.
Good luck to all those going through ACL reconstruction and recovery!
Monday, October 20, 2008
If I was to stand in front of the dojo and close my eyes, I could picture where each student stands on the dojo floor. I can visualize a brown belt in the back corner, a green belt directly in front of him, an adult brown belt in the back row center. I could go on. When I think to my own training at the Honbu, I inevitably stand in the back row close to the entrance. If my training partner is on the floor, we gravitate to the back row near the air conditioner.
Does it matter where you stand? I think it does.
One evening, I was reviewing chounokun with a brown belt student. The student was working on the kata for an upcoming test. I made some minor corrections and suggestions and realized that all the comments were directed to one side of the body. It was the side that could not be readily seen from where the student always stood. The moves were hidden from sight. The end position was fine but the moves in between needed some work. I suggested that the student move to the other side of the room to get a different view.
Last Tuesday was my second Tai Chi Chuan class. I wanted to try again even though I felt dopic the first week. I walked into the room and stood to the left. The instructor does not stand in the center of the room, he stands facing the mirror to the right. I could not see the moves and had to use the mirror to follow the pattern. Eventually, I moved to the back corner of the room so that I could see the instructor from a new perspective. What a difference it made!
If possible, vary where you stand in the dojo. If you cannot see the instructor, move to where you can. It is easy to get comfortable and claim "your place" on the floor. It is important to see the instructor from different angles.
Enjoy your training!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I did not have time to rest or decompress...I had to leave my rotten day at the door. The moment I crossed through the door from the house to the dojo it was instant...my bad day was left behind.
What a wonderful gift of the martial arts!!!
Friday, October 10, 2008
On the positive side:
The instructor was great...the real deal. He sat down and explained his goal for the class...health and wellness and feeling connected to your body. As an added bonus, he explained that he taught traditional Tai Chi and did not like the "fad" (his words) classes. It was more than I expected to find during an 8:00 p.m. class at the local gym. The instructor gave a brief history of his martial arts background and he answered questions thoroughly. It was interesting to note that he started learning Karate and Taekwondo but ultimately decided Tai chi chuan was the path for him.
On the negative side:
My knee hurts. The movement is so different from Okinawa Kenpo. We were working on a movement drill where the focus is to keep the shoulders and hips moving together from the center while the knees do something else. It was the something else...a slight turning at the knees that I was obviously doing wrong...that cause my knees to hurt. I think it will get better over time.
Then I asked what I consider the big question. How difficult will it be to practice both Tai chi chuan and Okinawa Kenpo? I explained that my purpose in learning Tai chi chuan is for health and wellness. The instructor was honest and told me that it would be difficult and that it might take me longer to "get" the movement. He indicated that he may be telling me things that are contradictory to what I know. He was honest and I respect him for his candor.
I want to continue taking Tai Chi Chuan classes.
What has been your experience learning multiple styles? Can they be kept separate? Do you want them to stay separate? Is it too difficult?
Monday, October 6, 2008
A recent article from EmaxHealth indicates:
According to physical therapist and APTA spokesperson Mark Paterno, PT, MS, MBA, SCS, ATC, coordinator of orthopedic and sports physical therapy at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that ACL tears occur four times more frequently in females than in males involved in the same amount of sports participation. He says the difference in neuromuscular control, or the way our muscles contract and react, is one of four primary factors contributing to why women are more susceptible to knee injuries than men. Other discrepancies are anatomical (men and women are structurally differently), hormonal (women's hormonal makeup affects the integrity of the ligament, making it more lax), and bio-mechanical (the positions our knees get in during athletic activities).
"Women perform athletic tasks in a more upright position, putting added stress on parts of the knee such as the ACL, resulting in less controlled rotation of the joint," said Paterno. "While men use their hamstring muscles more often, women rely more on their quadriceps, which puts the knee at constant risk.
The article suggests that the PEP program (Prevent Injury, Enhance Performance) developed by the Santa Monica ACL Prevention Project could reduce the risk of ACL injuries. This is an interesting website with injury prevention information for female athletes.
In regards to my daughter and soccer, the article gives me a lot to think (I mean worry) about.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Then I remembered the following tale from the early years of the dojo:
Many years ago two potential students walked through the dojo door interested in karate lessons. They were male and in their early twenties. My husband spoke with them about the dojo and Okinawa Kenpo. After a few minutes, one of the men informed my husband that they had been training for years. He knows many of the local instructors and inquired to where they were training and who was their instructor. They proudly explained that they did not have an instructor. They bought a variety of martial arts videos and movies and were practicing for years in their basement. They wanted to know what rank that would make them in Okinawa Kenpo. My husband politely explained (ok, maybe not that politely) that their training would not merit any rank in Okinawa Kenpo.
The two men signed up for introductory lessons. During class, my husband was reviewing self-defense. One of the men wanted to review a technique they learned from a video. He told my husband that this technique would accelerate the heart and make the lungs feel like they are going to explode. They wanted to "try out" this technique and asked if they could test it out on my husband. Needless to say, they did not try their heart accelerating technique and they never came back to the dojo.
I cannot imagine trying to learn martial arts without an instructor.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I used to work for an organization dedicated to preserving Pennsylvania German history. To be considered a PA German, your ancestors came to America from a German speaking land from 1638 until the late 1700's. The visitors to the headquarters were mainly interested in genealogical research. Many of the visitors were over the age of 70. I know this because I would estimate 8 out of 10 visitors would tell me their name and age. The ages ranged from 70 to 90. They would tell wonderful stories. I enjoyed listening to their tales and learned much. They were proud of their age.
How do you/did you feel about turning 40?