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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Shoulder Surgery Rehabilitation--Don't Get Stupid!

For all you rotator cuff fans I thought I'd pass on some advice I just received from my surgeon today (who also BTW is a long time aikido practitioner) in response to my questions about regaining my range of motion. All through my physical therapy and whenever I do rehab exercises on my own, I would constantly say to myself "push thru the pain! You're a warrior--use it to your advantage and get better faster!" On range of motion exercises I'd try to eke out another 1/2 inch, trying to get back to normal on every repetition. If the physical therapist said go to a pain level of 3, I'd go to 6...well, maybe even 7, what the hell.

Well today my surgeon checked my range of movement and said I'm right where I need to be and glad I wasn't doing better. "What?!?" I said, "what's wrong with better?!" He said what happens is he often gets martial artists as patients and that they stretch and stretch and scream and fight thru the pain and they come in to his office all proud of themselves because they've surpassed their expected progress points and exclaim "see? I can bend my shoulder all the way to here now!" Next thing happens, they wreck their surgery because the damn tendons won't stay attached to their bones. They don't exactly pop their screws but their rotator cuff never turns out a strong as it could have.

I work with a guy who tore his shoulder to shreds as a high school baseball player. Being a self-described "exercise fanatic," whatever the therapist said to do, he'd do 3, 5, heck, 10 times as much! If a little is good then a ton is better! Well his shoulder never healed perfectly and to this day makes strange noises and doesn't work completely normal. Would he be better if he didn't push it to the max? Who knows.

The lesson is that it's not the amount and intensity of the rehab that gets you better, it's TIME and consistency without strain. Can I do it? Check back in January...

Monday, June 02, 2008

My Lessons With the Masters (and Fatherhood) Part 2

--From the two points of contact position (touching one of his arms with my hand, and his other arm with my elbow/forearm of the same arm as my touching hand), I have checkmate: I can isolate around the contact arm (hence ghosting) and hit with the free hand, and if he moves either of his hands or his body (without full isolation) to deal with it, either end of my contact arm can carry through the attack.

--I must use my looseness to hit powerfully, completely casually, with no apparent weapon or strike manifestation until the moment of impact. Don't "strike": just make you weapon appear on the target. Striking at this level becomes pure thought: I think, thereby it becomes.

--I must not move any more than is necessary. Rather than "completing" or "following through" motions (overextending/overcommitting), I must always "find the straight line in the circle," penetrate then strike again from there through the space my strike created, cut things off directly, strike repeatedly through the same line, and never make anything more complicated than it needs to be. I must pocket to clear my own line to strike, and to create space to draw my arm out to strike

--I can use my looseness to hit powerfully from nearly full extension of my arms via internal dropping.

--I can use my looseness and internal dropping to snap extremely hard, repeated tool destructions/checks with absolutely no wind-up or pretensioning, going straight from steam to ice and back again instantly, to economically clear lines to strike through. This can be practiced on the slam bag, striking very short, right in front of the chest, with no wind-up.

--This can be expanded to full, powerful "liquid/solid" heavy arm striking, contouring along the body with an arm as loose as water that nevertheless cuts like a knife through whatever gets in its way via internal dropping.

--I must Ride the Vortex: use extremely light tool replacement and minute body movement to let strikes BARELY miss me while taking space and maintaining control with NO overcommitment.

--This requires the PATIENCE and faith in sensitivity to NOT MOVE TOO EARLY, but to wait for the overcommitment and panic to penetrate. It's about TIMING, allowing him to run into things. Swinging for the baseball too early is just as bad as swinging too late!

--Kicking: The foot moves directly to the target with complete looseness ("release") and balance, with devastating effect. (My bad luck--I was wearing shorts!) Try out a few funky angles. . . .

I then watched as John worked with Al, and demonstrated the differences he feels between Al and me. I probably didn't get most of what was going on, as my head was already bursting from all the information Al had just downloaded to it!

--John feels how to disrupt the spine, allowing him to completely take Al's balance and crush his structure to deliver fight-ending blows, sometimes simultaneously.

--In addition, John "brings the chaos," creating sensory overload with multiple attacks to different locations.

--Compared to Al, my root feels more fixed (less elusive--NOT stronger) and much easier to pin down and disrupt. From any particular spot, John may have a couple things he could do to Al, but he feels dozens of things he could do to me.

Hopefully my subconscious mind will digest at least some of this powerful stuff while my conscious mind is preoccupied with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, and doing well at work to pay for it all! (Then again, if I could teach say 8 private lessons per day, 5 days per week, maybe I wouldn't have to work. . . . Oh well!)