Injuries are a part of training. After two knee surgeries, months and months of rehab under my (now) brown belt, I thought I had learned that standard. I believed myself to be at peace with the reality that my body has real limitations. But in late november two small things happened to remind me how to mentally deal with an injured body but continue training.
First, was the thumb. I took some contact to my left thumb during a sparring session. It hurt but I trained through it. Over days and weeks, each time i bumped my hand or flexed my hand the wrong way, the pain returned. Then while reaching for something under a car seat, I hit the center of the injured thumb on a piece of metal. I knew the next morning that my hand was out of order. I fashioned myself a thumb spica splint and decided to rest.
Second, came my aways relevant right knee. I work in an emergency room. I am often in charge of the emergency room. I pride myself on staying calm, relaxed and not easily getting excited. But one night I had a good reason to suddenly run down a long hall. I usually try to avoid running because since having a torn meniscus repaired, running hurts. This time was no exception. Just an hour after the run down the hall, I was noticing a need to limp and slow my stride.
I decided to take the month of December off from training. A body accustomed to exercise and a certain degree of violence does not like to go without it. Muscles get restless. The spirit gets frustrated without its usual physical outlet.
I think it is healthy to rest and I enjoyed having a break in the routine of training although I continued to mentally train my standards. I was forced to consider on a time when karate training is over. It is important to separate self from action. It is important to not have too much ego wrapped up in the identity of karate.
When you work at something for a long time it becomes easy to ask : well, if I don’t do that anymore then who am I? What do I do?
This sort of self examination is very helpful. You have to get distance to see the whole picture. It is not fun or enjoyable or comfortable. But training in karate should not always be comfortable or fun or enjoyable.
Often we pause mid technique to examine our position correct our stance. My injuries and the time I spent healing gave me a pause to examine my stance, correct my position and make sure my emotional, spiritual and physical orientation was correct.