Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Renewed ACL Woes In The Blogosphere

Life has been very busy lately, and I haven't been keeping up with blogs (mine or others') lately. As I tell people, quoting a favorite old boss of mine, I've been busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest.

Now, however, I'm on vacation. I kick back, read a few posts--and find that everybody is falling apart.

Hack Shaft, an energetic tae kwan do student, in November (on election night) got a second ACL injury. He's already gone through his operation. He's still got a great attitude, but I can't believe he's going through ACL reconstruction again.

And witty blogger Black Belt Mama is going to have, in effect, her ACL repair repaired in January. She's got a protruding sheath from the prior ACL surgery that needs fixing.

I feel for both of them--I was groaning out loud as I was getting caught up on their blogs. And it's a reminder that, while athletics and martial arts will help preserve our minds, bodies and spirits in the long run, we are running risks in the short run.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Return of the Black Belt Candidate

I've gotten my sensei's permission, so I'm returning to the black belt test on Jan. 21.

It was a bit more than two years ago that I tore my ACL in the final moments of my black belt test, and between ACL diagnosis, surgery, recovery, and work/life overload, I haven't tested since then.

Two years ago I got hurt in the final minutes of the test. I had passed everything except grappling (a bit more on why grappling is part of the test later). My sensei says he's seeking to have my organization grandfather me on all parts of the test except the grappling, but it's been so long I might have to re-test on everything. Best to prepare for the worst case, he says.

I'm off work for two weeks, and I'm going to use this time, as much as I can, to sharpen my skills and improve my endurance. I'm going this morning to the local gym chain, which I had dropped out of earlier this year, so I can run on an elliptical machine on days when I don't have martial arts class (or in the morning before the evening classes). With no work, I can make lots of classes this week as well.

I was most worried about pushups on the pre-test I took Saturday. Pushups, as I've said, are the bane of my existence; to get in the door of the test, I have to do 50. My sensei wanted me to do 75 in the pretest. I did 74 good pushups, one bad pushup, and hit the ground--good enough to pass the pretest. I need to work on my situps, however (50 in a minute at the test), I wasn't getting down far enough.

If I do have to test for everything, there's a lot I need to memorize. Some of the self defense moves have changed a bit since I took my test.

While my school started out as a Shotokan karate school, it has become more of a mixed martial arts organization (no, we don't ground and pound each other in class), but it has retained elements of karate like the black belt test. The complete test for a 52-year-old is:

Do 50 pushups in good form without dropping to the ground
Do 50 situps in a minute
Show good form on punches and kicks using punching mits, kick pads and Muay Thai pads
Show good, quick execution of (I think) 8 self-defense moves
Kickbox five opponents in two minute rounds with only a few moments between rounds
Grapple two opponents in four-minute rounds.

I'll find out early next year whether I just need to do pushups, situps and grappling, or whether I need to do everything.