Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

February 16th, 2015

From Sempai Anne Burgevin, Ik-kyu, Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Club
State College, PA

Warrior-in-Training While Ill or Injured

When I arrive at practice feeling somewhat under the weather Kyoshi Kaplan encourages me to take a "before and after test". He asks me to pay attention to how I feel before the workout compared with how I feel afterwards. Hands down I feel better afterwards. This experiential knowledge of how training improves my immediate state of health motivates me to come to practice when I don't feel 100 percent.

At times we experience greater illness and injury. Some conditions are chronic. Others are temporary. How do these conditions and brushes with illness affect our karate? Is there a way we can continue our training while convalescing or nursing a loved one who needs our undivided attention? My experience is that "yes" we can continue our training in these circumstances. For instance, while caring for a young child who is ill and needs nighttime care it is easy to become fatigued and out of sorts. It is precisely at these times when we can call on our training to give us the necessary strength of mind and body to combat mental and physical fatigue.

There are other ways to continue our karate practice by modifying the way we workout. While coping with an injury one can still participate. For example, even with your left arm in a sling you can still do the workout and perform kata with modification of power and technique. Or you may choose to observe. We learn so much by observing. With your leg in a cast you may sit, observe and do kata from the sitting position.

When one has an injury that requires rest or a stay of activity then we can mentally practice our karate. By that I mean we can picture ourselves doing kata in our minds, step by step, move by move. When I am ill and unable to attend my workouts I often fall asleep imaging myself doing Fukyagata Ni, knowing it is Hanshi's favorite warm-up kata, and therefore must have a particularly redeeming value.

Coping with illness or injury and keeping a positive attitude is a way to practice our warrior training. So often people fall into bouts of self-pity and depression while ill or injured. These are the times when we need most to remember we are warriors in training and we have the mental and physical ability to stay above these unhelpful emotions and states of mind.