Last night I had the frustrating experience of training while injured. Training with an injury is frustrating because the normal energy and spirit of karate training would aggravate the injury and lengthen recovery time. It takes a fair amount of self-control to watch your fellow karate-ka vigorously training while you have to find ways to improve at a slower pace. It is a mildly lonely feeling to be in a group of companions but unable to behave in the same way as the group. However, this solitary feeling allowed me to really focus on myself during training, and I picked up a nice reminder of how quickly our training can lapse into ineffectiveness unless we keep a close eye on ourselves.
The lesson came during the kihon section of class, as we were warming up in zenkutsu-dachi with a kizami-zuki/gyaku-zuki combination. I noticed that even in slow motion, my body was adjusting around the discomfort in my left side due to some bruised ribs. Sub-consciously I was letting my rear knee collapse and rear foot come up on its edge, allowing my hips to make the required range for gyaku-zuki without the proper tension in my core muscles near my injury. Even though I had made the conscious decision to train slowly and put up with some discomfort in my ribs, my subconscious was letting my training slip to avoid that discomfort. How quickly our body will betray our conscious intentions for its own short-sighted ends! We must be vigilant as we train, because this unconscious betrayal of our training will happen every time the ego is threatened, risk of failure is present, or unpleasant work is at hand. I find it ironic that my initial disappointment with low intensity training was met with an important lesson that could only present itself in the quiet, introspective mind brought on by that training.
Submitted by: Matt Baran, Sandan