Saturday, September 20, 2008

Torn Labrum

My shoulder has continued hurting, so I finally got in to see a sports doctor. His diagnosis: I have a torn labrum. The labrum is shoulder cartilage, in the socket part of the joint.

I wondered how it could be a shoulder injury, when, in fact, the pain is in the upper arm, sort of where the arm and shoulder meet. That's because it's "referred pain," he said--it's being referred to that part of the body by nerves from the actual injury. And sure enough, when he presses on the part of my arm where I feel the pain, it doesn't hurt. It only hurts when I move my shoulder the wrong way.

I will need an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. More medical dollars spent--I think my health plan charges me $300 for MRIs.

I might be able to fix it with physical therapy, the doctor said, and I should try that first. But I may need it "scoped," he said.

What a drag.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is falling apart and I'm too busy covering it. Worked last Sunday, will need to work this weekend also, and it feels impossible--it IS impossible--to do as good a job on it as I'd like.

And I'm having heartbreaking problems with a family member. So it's been a tough week.

I did enjoy, though, my two classes this week (had to miss the others). Friday night sensei had us work on footwork in sparring class--there were six students, and we didn't work at all on free sparring. Today I went to a "core" class and got an excellent workout then as well. What would I do without this outlet.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sparring With Sensei

Last night, a Friday night, I was the only student in my sparring class, so I got to spar with sensei.

My sensei is a Muay Thai champion.

When Caryn at the front desk told me my sole classmate would be sensei, I said, "You know, I think I have something really important to do at home...."

"Too late," sensei said.

I didn't suspect that he would injure me. He is totally in control. I'm safer sparring with him than with most of my classmates, in terms of risking injury.

I was very aware, however, of how futile my response to him would be on the mat. This has to do with his skill level compared to mind, but it doesn't help that he's 32 and I'm 52.

After warming up, we started off with drills--he would use his jab only, for instance, and I would block with the same-side hand. Since I knew it was coming, I could generally block it. But even in the drills, I was getting tired from the constant motion around the mat.

We would trade roles in the drills, then we started counterpunching--each time knowing what the other would do since the type of punch or kick was limited.

Eventually we got around to free sparring, two-minute rounds, 30 seconds off.

I have sparred with people much better than me. I usually manage to defend myself and land some punches and kicks, even if the other person is clearly better.

With my sensei, trying to block his punches was like trying to block lightning. And he moved so constantly that I usually couldn't come close to landing a punch. He didn't wear head gear or a mouth guard, because he didn't need them.

At first we only used hands. He urged me to keep moving; use my reach with my jab; to not cross my legs when moving backwards; to cover up if he came in too quickly for me to evade, but to keep looking for opportunities to counterpunch, and to get out of there when I could. I was totally, totally overmastered. My jabs kept sailing around or over his head as he moved. I was afraid of using much besides the jab for fear of exposing myself to counterpunches. He would set up his punches perfectly--getting me to, say move my hands together in defense in front of my body so he could throw a hook punch unblocked. And I was getting exhausted.

I did a little better when I could kick. He later said that my kicks are fast for a big guy. But as I tired further, it got harder to kick. At one point, he faked a round kick with one leg, I brought my leg up to block, he then kicked with his other leg after my block went down. I need to try that on somebody sometime!

On top of all this, I got stomach cramps toward the end. First thing I did when I got home was head to the bathroom.

He explained a lot about what he was doing, what I should be doing, that evening and the next day when I came to class again. I asked if I was telegraphing the punches or just slow--he said he could read my punches but I wasn't telegraphing too badly, he's just able to see them coming. He said that when someone shorter than me comes in bobbing and weaving low, I should jab down at him, maybe even hold him briefly, and use uppercuts to bring him up.

There will be more classmates in future Friday night classes, but I do think I will learn a lot from sparring with sensei. I hope I don't get too frustrated in the process.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Life, Training

I spent a three day weekend with my 80-something parents in another city. I went there to help my father after he got an operation, but he was recovering fine. Instead, I was helping them with other crises, health and otherwise. It was a good weekend for me to be there--and I was happy I could give a break to my brother, who lives nearby and who bears the brunt of the care for them.

I've missed three martial arts classes in the past week, due largely to my trip. First things first.

It's just killing me that my shoulder hasn't healed yet--I'm going to see a doctor about it.

In the one class I made this week, when I told my sensei I couldn't do pushups because of my hurt shoulder, he had a real kick-ass alternative: "Do one-armed pushups," he said, and promptly showed how easily HE could do them.

One of my friends in class said, "You should have told him you have TWO hurt shoulders."