Knees and Students

December 9, 2018 by Rieshy

A few weeks ago tears leaked down my face as I stood on a squishy balance beam and did slow front kicks.  Kicks that were only level with my waist.  Slow.  Wobbly.   I was sweating and worn out after 20 and trying to surreptitiously use my sleeve to dry my face.

I hate it when I leak tears.  Undignified.  Immature.  Silly.  Cue more tears.

That was six week post surgery, 18 weeks post injury, the point where putting on the knee brace in the morning had become as automatic as unplugging my phone from it's charger.  I was in a rehab-rut.  A rehabilitation tire-rut in mud partially frozen over with slushy ice kept shadowed by the back of the garage.

What's hard wasn't the suddenly atrophied muscles and too tight jeans or even the hard work of physical therapy; it was the fatigue of the smallness of the therapy.  Willing those muscles to remember how to tighten.  Just tighten.  Just stinking flexing those quads whose address my brain had lost.  The silliness of the minutia that included being congratulated for doing a wobbly waist-high front kick.

But it hurt. And I couldn't sleep well.  And I found myself whining.  And then I loathed myself for whining so I ate more chocolate and rationalized not doing all my PT homework because it was so meager anyway.  That part of me always eager for defeat threatened to rise in triumph.  Denouncing every small victory as insignificant and unworthy.

Lately, I've thought about my martial arts students and what I want them to learn as they come up on testing time; it reminded me that what I can't do now and even what I may never be able to do again is irrelevant.  The power of studying a discipline such as martial arts is in honing the skill of breaking down large problems into personalized and manageable chunks.   And then sticking with it, growing with it- day after day in the now- enjoying every victory and being thankful for every lesson along the way.  Then applying that same discipline to every important aspect of life.

Rank, testings, competitions: all are fun and even inspiring but they are not necessarily the end game.  It's more personal than that.  I work towards my students doing this.  I can do this.

And I can do it with a bit of professional curiosity and joy.

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