Longevity (part 2 of 2)

(In part 1 of this article I shared the "first truth.")

The second truth: As serious martial artists we generally train hard year round, and we train dangerous techniques therefore we do get injured.  Athletes from other disciplines have seasons of hard training, and seasons of rest.  We generally do not.  Because of this fact (combined with the nature of what we do) as a martial artist, you can EXPECT to get injured at some point in your career.  Depending on the training regimen you follow, you may even live with different injuries constantly.  Unfortunately this is just a fact.  Does this mean we have to have long breaks in our training?  No, it usually doesn't.  It means we must be selfish and smart about how we train.

When I say be "selfish" I mean that you need to make sure to take care of your body when training.  I am not talking about the common sense things like good nutrition, proper rest, good form, etc.  I am talking about the abuse we sometimes unwittingly subject our bodies to.  When we are young we can get away with it as we heal and recover quickly…. but trust me…. old injuries (and bad training habits) have a way of catching up with you.  Many of us tend to take a lot of unnecessary risk and put our health in someone elseʼs hands (i.e. Your training partners or your students).  I used to allow every student at every one of my seminars to practice on me so that I could make corrections to their techniques.  While my intentions were good, I was being naive.  While I was being careful to explain safety practices and doing my best to protect myself, the truth was that I was putting my body under unnecessary duress allowing the repetitions to be done to me.  I was also the victim of many well meaning but over-enthusiastic students who inadvertently caused me injuries... sometime minor... sometimes not so minor.  I am not advocating stopping your training or being a bad training partner.  I am saying to be very intentional about what you do and with whom you do it.  I no longer allow everyone to train on my body.  I am happy to demonstrate techniques on them and make corrections to what they are doing with their partner, but I rarely allow someone whom I donʼt know/trust to practice on me.  I no longer take that risk.

When I say be "smart" I mean your body is like a machine.  Maintain and build up your machine.  Try not to wear it down.  In order to have longevity in our training we must seek to build up and maintain our health... in all of itʼs aspects.  Strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, bone and joint health, cardiovascular health, etc, etc.  Research, seek out advice, and experiment with what training combinations you can do to maximize your work potential each week while minimizing undo stress on your body, mind, and will.  Listen to your body.  Make sure to rest enough, but not too much.  Make sure to eat properly.  And the list goes on.

Your martial journey should be enjoyable, beneficial, and long.  A little planning and common sense will go a long way towards helping you on your way.  I hope these principals have been a small contributor to helping you on your personal journey.

Blessings and Strength!
John