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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shoulder Surgery and the One armed bandit

As some of you from class may know, I finally closed the book on 30 years of inadequate rehab, bit the bullet, and got arthroscopic surgery done on my right shoulder. Man, does this sucker hurt! The surgeon surprised me after I woke up because what we both assumed from the MRI was a simple tear and a 2 point reattachment...turned out to be three times more damage that required 2 more hours of surgery and 6 total reattachments once he got the scope in. So if you've been suffering like I have since college (30 years ago) with shoulder pain that comes and goes, thinking "I can fix this myself".... you may help yourself by getting that MRI you've been avoiding.

'Course now I'm looking at 9 months rehab til I can really go at it again but after that--watch out! I'll be tearing phone books in half and throwing big Mike thru the window (in my dreams!) In the meantime, good thing they invented Vicodin! Anybody else gone thru the shoulder 'scope ordeal? How'd it turn out? All I know is there's lots of one-armed contact flow in my future... I'm going to have to work on drills that don't screw up the surgery. One lesson I can take away from all this is the importance of warming up and not leaving your brains in your ass. The original injury was from lifting weights--and then going out and throwing 300 passes in a football game. Couldn't lift my arm for a week. That got better, but I kept re-injuring it. The final insult was 3 months ago when, after breaking my personal record in pull-ups, I decided to celebrate by immediately doing an hour of intense contact flow. Snap. After 30 years I think I finally learned my lesson. Maybe.

P.S. Just to put my whining in perspective, John needs double knee replacement and two shoulder surgeries and he's still devastating.


  1. Matt,

    This is the Brian from Sat. morning class.

    Sorry to hear the injury was worse than expected. There were a couple things I wanted to pass along to you:

    I happened to read Josh Waitzkin’s book recently, in which he discusses an injury that forced him to train using one arm for a while. For those who don’t know, Josh won the middleweight World Championship in fixed step and - also moving step - push hands in Taiwan in 2004 (he also won many national titles in the US). In chapter 12 of “The Art of Learning” he describes how being forced to train with one arm was an extremely positive learning experience. From the book: “I became so comfortable fending off both my opponent’s hands with my left, that the idea of ultimately getting my right hand back felt like an unfair luxury.” I hope you have a similar experience.

    I also planned to suggest that you might look into some visualization techniques while you are recovering, since I also reread “The Mental Edge” by Kenneth Baum a couple months ago. Interestingly, when I typed out the quote from “The Art of Learning”, I saw that Josh also discusses using visualization during his recovery to try to maintain his abilities in his injured arm.

    According to “The Mental Edge”, many athletes use visualization to reach peak performance. I have used minimally so far; however, I can pass along one personal experience: About a month ago, on my morning train ride, I did a visualization exercise imagining doing contact flow. I felt more energetic, positive and focused after that visualization exercise than probably any other day of commuting in 8 years. I haven’t done consistently enough to claim any increased ability to do contact flow, but my early indications are that this could be a powerful tool.

    Brian Crowley

  2. Hi Ari:
    New to the world of GC but just wanted to pass on congratulations on the birth of your daughter!! Best wishes to youand your wife.
    You are about to find out what real guided Chaos is all about...
    Geoff Hetherington