How can being injured as a martial arts instructor be a positive thing? I found out recently when I broke my arm in three places in a karate tournament, requiring surgery and a plate in my arm to hold the bones together. Sometimes when life throws you a curve ball (or in this case a kick), you just need to go with the flow.
Using Your Mind More
I watched a lot of DVD’s, mostly about MMA, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and bodyweight exercises, three of my current passions. Even though I was not able to do the vast majority of the moves, I visually went through them many times. In fact, when I was finally able to get back on the mat to roll, some of the techniques came back to me well enough to actually use. The energy that I would normally have put into training went into study.
Cross-training Your Brain and Body
Being a left-hander, I believe it’s actually an advantage to break your right hand. Why? You learn how to use the other hand better, and more importantly, it uses the other side of the brain, effectively cross-training it. I am still practising writing with my right hand months later. I studied Chinese Calligraphy a few years back and found writing with the left hand difficult because of the “smudging effect” as you move your fingers across the page left to right. When my writing is good enough with the right hand, I am going to go back and give it a crack as a right-hander.
Needless to say, writing, shaving, and other activities with the right hand has resulted in better coordination on that side. As a martial artist for over half of my life, I was already somewhat ambidextrous, but this certainly helped build strength and coordination on what used to be my weak side.
Your Injuries Get a Chance to Heal
The body has a wisdom of its own. Did it want to get hurt seriously? Probably not, but since the break, and the resulting enforced rest, something mysterious happened. My sore shoulders, cracked rib, sore knee and every other ailment I had completely disappeared. The relative inactivity gave my whole body a long enough rest to recover, which would have been unlikely if I kept training at the same intensity as before the injury.
You Find New Ways to Stay Fit
I had to find some way to stay fit as I had already booked a trip to Rio to train with Royler Gracie, one of the best in the world in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The doc said it would probably be ok to go if my arm healed well enough in the ten or so weeks I had left before the camp was to start. As I did my rehab exercises, I developed a program to practise Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with one arm to get myself fit for the mat.
Other activities I tried were kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, and walking/running up and down stairs. Luckily the apartment in which I live has three floors of stairs. I worked my way up to twenty trips up and down, and towards the end I was running. This was a great exercise to discover as I now use it when I don’t have the time to get to the gym and need a quick workout.
Although I would not choose to go through this whole experience again, I found that by looking at the bright side of things, it was easier to stay motivated and keep on track in my training. What experiences can you share as an injured martial arts instructor or student?