Martial Arts Training With Joint Injuries (Part 3)

OK, this is the last post on this subject, I promise  🙂

There is a certain attitude in martial arts, that we don’t like to give in to pain or to complain about it.  We just soldier on.  But if you are suffering any kind of joint of pain or discomfort, get it properly checked.  I would recommend a good Osteopath, Chiropractor, Podiatrist or something similar rather than an ordinary doctor (known as a General Practitioner [GP] in the UK).  My personal experience is that when it comes to any kind of sports or physical activities injury, the GP will just tell you not to do it any more.  Well it makes his job easier!

That of course is not a satisfactory answer to a martial artist who wants his/her martial art to be a lifetime study.  Also (in my personal experience) the GP tends to look only at the symptoms and not what might actually be causing the problem.

Osteopaths and Chiropractors on the other hand tend to look at the body more holistically and are much more geared to getting us back into our chosen activity (be it sport or martial art).

When I was about 20, I had a problem with my knee.  There was so much swelling that fluid dropped down to the ankle which literally became about twice the size (due to the excess fluid).  After visiting the GP and having my knee examined I was told that he could not find anything wrong with the knee and to rest it.

So I rested, selling went down, trained, swelling came back, rested longer, swelling down, trained, swelling came back.

Back to the GP.  Another examination of the knee revealed nothing wrong and I was told to rest it longer.   So . . . . . . . rest it longer, swelling down, trained, swelling back, rest it longer, swelling down, trained, swelling back.

GP!

I was sent to the local hospital for an X-ray of my knee.  Guess what they found?

Nothing.

Guess what the advice was?

Yes you guessed it, rest it even longer.

That had taken about 3 months.  Desperate to get back to my training I tried an Osteopath.  He actually looked beyond just my knee.  He found a small mis-alignment in my hip joint which was affecting me knee.  He did a manipulation on the hip that night, told me to go back to training and take it easy at first and gradually build back up.  The problem disappeared and I very soon was able to get back into full training.  In 3 months of going to the GP and the hospital, they hadn’t even looked at the hip.

Now when it comes to Osteopaths and Chiropractors you have to shop around as they are not all good.  If you can, get a personal recommendation.

Another common problem these days is fallen arches in the feet.  This is common because our feet were not designed to walk of flat surfaces, they were designed to walk on sand, mud, earth etc, which our ancestors would have done bare feet.  On these surfaces, the arch of the foot is supported by the sand/mud/earth etc.  However, on flat surfaces which we have in every home, every office or factory, every pavement/sidewalk, or every training room floor; our arches are not supported (unless you wear special shoes).

Why is this an issue?

When your aches fall, your foot tends to rotate slightly to the inside edge.  This realigns your legs.  Over a period of time your muscles, tendons, ligaments etc will adjust and assume slightly new positions.  When you exercise vigorously, these new positions can cause all kinds of problems as mis-aligned parts rub against each other causing inflammation, swelling and pain.

Over yet more time, this can even affect your back giving you back pains.

I know this from personal experience.  Having been off training for a number of years due to a lot of domestic problems, my arches fell causing constant pain and discomfort with my knees when I did start training again.   It was a Chiropractor who pointed this out to me and arranged for me to have an orthotic insert to wear inside my shoes.  This supports the arch and adjusts the mechanics of how I walked.  Over time there has been a marked improvement.  I later went to see a Podiatrist to get a made to measure orthotic inserts rather than the off-the-shelf orthotics from the Chiropractor.  Gradually, slowly the situation has improved.  It’s still not perfect, but I’m able to kick much better and relax and sink into my stance more  easily (most of the time).

I can’t emphasise enough, if you are in pain when you train, get yourself checked out.  Try non-evasive treatments first (operations can’t be undone).  If they don’t work, then you can move on to the more drastic options later such as possibility of an operation.

Some supplements are good for joints too (though they won’t help much if the joints are mis-aligned).  Many people swear by Cod Liver Oil or Glucosamine.  Others use Ginger.  The thing that worked best for me is Collagen.  Until fairly recently collagen molecules could not be absorbed by the body orally as the molecules were too big.  Now some variants can be.  However, I would suggest you experiment to see what works best for you.

 

Review Of Kevin O’Hagan’s Anatomy Of A Street Assault Seminar

Kevin O’Hagan, 7th Dan Combat Ju Jutsu and author of numerous books is undoubtedly one of the very best Reality Based Martial Arts instructors in the UK.  On Sunday 2nd Sept, I attended one of his seminars on the Anatomy Of A Street Assault.  As per usual, Kevin’s seminar was very informative, practical and thought provoking!

Kevin O’Hagan demonstrating with son Jake

The first section looked into the different types of assault, perpetrators motivation behind each type of assault, how to identify them and how to avoid being selected or how to defuse a situation once you have been selected.  This is the part that this review will cover.  There was a very pragmatic physical side to the seminar as well, but that is not covered here.

Firstly, it was made clear that we were not talking about fighting.  Kevin defined fighting as either combat sport, or when 2 people decide to step outside and “sort it out”.  A fight is basically where 2 people, for whatever reason, both consent to having a fight.  A street assault (subject of seminar) is where one person initiates violence and the other is unwillingly drawn into it.

There are only 2 real types of street assault, which are:-
*      Confrontational
*      Ambush

Confrontational

Otherwise known as “social” violence, where the perpetrator is generally showing of to an audience; trying to intimidate the victim and make himself look tough.  It is easy for the victim to be drawn into this if not careful and then it could degenerate into a fight (where the victim is provoked to the point of consenting to fight).

Generally this consists of staring and excessive eye contact.  When the eye contact is met and matched (which the perpetrator is looking for), then threats are made (usually accompanied by a lot of profanities).  This can escalate into pushing and shoving, more profanities and louder shouting, then eventually (if one of them does not back down) a big hay-maker is usually thrown, followed by a full on fight.

Going back to the first stage (staring), Kevin explained that the you simply do not meet the stare.  You glance around at the perpetrator, you can even nod at him in acknowledgement, but you do not hold and return his stare.  But you don’t turn your back on him either.  This way you let him know that you aware of him (he can’t launch a surprise attack), but you are not returning the unspoken (at this stage) challenge.  This may be enough to avoid escalation by not giving the perpetrator an excuse to escalate.  However, if he does escalate and aggressively ask who you are looking at, you simply apologise and say that you were looking at somebody near or behind him who you thought you recognised.  Either way, it is better to simply apologise than to end up in a pointless fight.

Perpetrators tend to de-humanise their victims, so try to make yourself very human to him.  You could say something like “sorry mate, I’ve just lost my job and wife’s left me and I’m having a really hard time right now, I really don’t want any more trouble”.  It might be enough!

Each situation will be different, so you have to make your decision at the time.  Another possibility is to try to put doubt into the perpetrators mind that he might be picking on the wrong guy by saying something like, “sorry mate I really don’t want any trouble.  I’m still on probation from the last fight I had and I really don’t want to go back to jail”!

If this still does not work then it could progress to the pushing and shoving stage.  At this point, if you don’t think you can talk him out of it then you have 2 main options; pre-emptive strike, or face him down with your own show of highly aggressive behaviour.

Whichever strategy you choose, you should already be in The Fence position.  You may say something like “is there nothing that I can do to persuade you not to fight me”?  Possibly you might get a positive answer that there is something you can do to avoid further conflict.  If you get a negative answer, then you will hopefully have witnesses to testify (if required) that you tried everything to talk him out of it.  At this point as you ask the question, you should be lining him up for a pre-emptive strike to a vital spot which will hopefully finish it all then and there.

Alternatively you may decide to push him away really hard and step back slightly as you do so.  The step back gives the impression that he has been pushed further back then he actually has been and giving an exaggerated impression of how strong you are.  At this point you launch your own tirade of threats, abuse and profanities to try to intimidate him into thinking that he has picked an even bigger nutter then himself.

Other factors to consider include that male victims will often not want to back down if they with their girlfriend/wife and the perpetrator will use this to provoke further.  This can include directly insulting the lady.  But Kevin pointed that most ladies would much rather walk away then have their guy involved in a fight, so a guy is just making a bad situation for his lady even worse if falls for the bait.  If however you have a lady who would want you to get into a fight, then Kevin’s advise was “get rid of her, she’s trouble”.

But each situation will be different so a judgement call will have to be made at the time.  Kevin also emphasised that as well as practicing the physical techniques, you should practice the verbal lines above in role play with a training partner, or you will forget them under pressure.

Ambush

Ambushes are asocial and the perpetrator does not want an audience.  These people are more “professional” then those who seek confrontation and they give no warning or build up.  It just happens and you have very little time to react or prepare in any way.

Kevin explained that the best way to avoid this type of assault is through awareness.  The ambusher is looking for an easy victim who they can assault (mug, rape) quickly and efficiently without any witnesses.  An analogy was drawn with lions hunting.  Lions always try to single out the young, old, frail or injured; who has strayed from the main herd.  In the same way, the human predator looks for somebody on their own and somebody who is not really aware of their surroundings.  This could be somebody who is engrossed in texting on their mobile phone, lost in their IPod, or simply putting groceries into the back of their car and not looking around.

Simply looking around so that the street predators know that you are aware of their presence (so they won’t be able to take you by surprise) can often be enough to deter them and have them look for somebody else.

It was also emphasised that if anybody tries to force you into a car or to go to a secondary location, do not co-operate in any circumstances.  At the secondary location the perpetrator can do whatever they like without fear of being caught.  Although at the original location they may be threatening to kill or maim you, THEY are still afraid themselves of being caught.  You are better off facing injury at the original site, then possible death at a secondary site.

General

This review only covers part of the seminar and there was much more to it that what is covered here.  Most martial art courses deal only with the physical skills of fighting.  Very few deal with avoiding or de-escalating a situation so that you don’t have to fight in the first place.  Kevin O’Hagan’s courses are applicable to people of any style and I would highly recommend them to any and all martial artists.

To contact Kevin  or to keep an eye open for future courses, go to his website, at www.KevinOHagan.com or befriend him on Facebook.