Archive: Blog 1-2. Player 1 Start

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 12 April, 2007

Okay, I’m off to actually delivering on my aim to blog like crazy this week! Today I thought I’d touch on my stretching regime, what I’ve found out, and about these new kicks I’m trying to learn!

Okay, first thing’s first – stretching. The big thing that gets bandied about in martial arts circles/the general public is the ability to do the splits, whether they be front splits or, more dramatically, side splits (aka ‘Chinese splits’). So, with my previous style of socket on my fake leg, I could do the full side splits and front splits, but since moving to the different style of socket last year (as well as having 12 months off from training :P), things got more difficult – the way in which the new socket holds onto my leg gives my stump less movement within the socket itself (which is a good thing – less stress on the skin), which means it places more stress on my tendons/muscles/what-not when I stretch; to summise it simply, it means I can’t get away with being able to stretch as easily as I used to.

Anywho, when I first started doing karate I was determined to be able to do the splits, so at least five nights a week I’d take the time to go through our leg-stretching routine we did at karate, and after about 2 months, I could do the full splits (yay!). Despite the fact I’ve had only limited time to train over the last 5 weeks, I’ve been trying to make time to at least work on my flexibility. I’ve been working hard on pushing my body, and I’m stoked to say that I’m almost at the point of being able to do full side and front splits! While some may question the utility of this style of stretching (I’ll get into that below), I’m finding that it helps strengthen my legs and relaxes the muscles in my real leg, and is helping take pressure off the knee as a general rule of thumb; I feel stronger and more in control when I walk, which is in and of itself an awesome thing.

Now, in the pursuit of information (as you do – I’m a librarian after all), I started looking up ways in which to increase power and flexibility in kicks, and I found out about these different types of stretching, at first via Wikipedia, then by a handful of other great websites. It turns out that while the splits is beneficial to flexibility, it isn’t the most efficient way of stretching for the purpose of kicking, for example; this is much better developed by Dynamic Stretching. I found another great website that I can’t find the URL of that contained a massive amount of info on the entire subject of stretching, which then got me onto reading up some more on the best way to achieve the best kicks in martial arts, and all of them pointed to Dynamic Stretching. In the case or martial arts, it appears that simple leg lifts are the best way to achieve real flexibility and strength in your kicking technique. The gear I’ve read recommends performing front, side and back leg lifts as high as you can go, gradually increasing the height as you go conservatively – obviously you don’t want to overdo it until your legs are ready, or else you’ll do some serious damage.

The reason this is deemed effective appears to be owing to two points – number one, because you’re using your leg in a kick-like manner, it is re-enforcing the stretching movement as directly related to the act of kicking; it is developing neuro-muscular coordination. Secondly, doing leg lifts can actually be more beneficial in preventing injury should you be suddenly placed in a scenario where you need to use the technique to defend yourself, as the dynamic nature is apparently better at prepping your muslces/tendons/etc for spontaneous action that static stretching doesn’t employ. Or something like that. Some of what I’ve read notes that by doing dynamic stretches for 8 weeks (I’m assuming maybe five times a week or more for only 5 minutes or so for each session?), you can achieve the extent of what your body is capable of.

As always, the proof’s in the pudding, or in this case, kick – I’ve done combination split stretching + leg lifts in all four directions over the past week, then tried a couple of kicks – the results were certainly evident. I was kicking higher and with more control and power than I have in a while, and I’m going to make it part of my stretching routine to add these in, and I’ll also be sure to do extra leg lifts before class each week. Since I need to hold onto something to balance while I do the leg lifts, I can’t really partake during class when I’m lined up with all the other karateka, so I’ll take the time to balance myself against the wall prior to class and get started. It is very awesome 🙂

I mentioned some techniques I’ve decided to study. Now, they may not necessarily be the world’s most effective techniques, but they test your form, strength and agility… plus they look cool, and appear to be pretty tricky for people with two legs, let alone someone with only one… so I’m taking it as a challenge 🙂 The first move I’ve decided to tackle is the modern Wushu technique that most people refer to as a Butterfly Kick; click the link and you’ll see a happy animated GIF file showing an awesome one being performed in motion (there are some good ones on YouTube though – I’ll post them in a later blog). The technique requires the martial artist to jump and spin the body with kicks from each leg while the body is kept almost parallel to the ground, then land facing the same direction you were when you started the technique. The tricky bit (well, aside from the inherent trickiness :P) is that the technique appears to require you to leap from your left leg in everything I’ve read on it – since I have the equivalent of a pole instead of a functioning leg on my left, I’m going to have to learn how use my right leg and work on the torque, control and leaping high enough. Since I want to avoid a serious injury, methinks I’ll work on it where I can safely land on a padded surface 🙂

The Tornado Kick is probably a bit more realistic to achieve – it involves spinning your body 540 or 360 degrees to launch a round kick that uses the momentum/force of the action to deliver a powerful strike. The Wikipedia article’s a little light on images, but there’s a great vid on YouTube showing someone demonstrating the technique from a Taekwondo background:

Hopefully that one worked 😛 My HTML is still a little dodgy, so I hoped that all went in ok! So yeah, that’s the other technique I’m working on.

That pretty much covers the kick/new technique side of things (hopefully that helped Renato!) – I’ll post something up tomorrow, either some comments on martial arts movies, or some YouTube/Google Video stuff.

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Archive: Ack!

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 11 April, 2007

Well, it’s been a dry spell the last week. Not through lack of random thoughts, though in part due to a continual break from karate. I was hoping to head back Wednesday last week, but the end of my stump was taking its sweet time healing up – with the move to a new liner within the socket on my fake leg, it was getting used to the extra pressure being put on it in comparison to the previous, shonky liner, and the skin on the end of the stump bruised and tore a bit. It’s finally back to relative normality now, and I was all set to head back tonight… until a lot of faffing about organising seminars at work in which my dashing between buildings up and down hills where I work let the silicone liner slip too far and the socket started its usual attack on the skin on my stump. This is, in every conceivable, a bad thing. I’ve re-aligned the liner and the pressure’s no longer on the trouble spot, but the stump is still sensitive and the last time(s) I didn’t take notice of it, I couldn’t walk the next day 😛 Which is bad.

So, this makes it:

  • 2 weeks missed due to work, and
  • 3 weeks missed due to the leg

It seems like I’m doing at the moment is whinging about my leg 😛 The other weekend I caught up with Wifey’s uncle at a family gathering on her side – this is the uncle who I’ve talked to at great length about martial arts, and I’ve borrowed some of his books and other gear he’s collected over the years – and he’s in a similar position to me, where the condition of his body leaves him unable to train. It was cool talking to him about it, and it made me feel a little less stupid for getting frustrated when my body can’t keep up with what I want to do.

So, in lieu of training this week, I’ve actually got a few things to blog about – I have a response to Renato’s blog on martial arts clips on YouTube (I have a few of my own to add!), I’m keen to post some stuff I’ve found out regarding really good leg stretching for higher kicks, talk about how I’ve decided I want to teach myself how to do butterfly kicks and tornado kicks, and maybe start a series of random blogs on martial arts flicks, starting out with some classic dodginess and possibly exploring some of my fave martial arts movies from Hong Kong and Japan. This last point was largely inspired by subjecting Wifey to the uberness that is Mortal Kombat the Movie, and the fact that it should have starred Dustin Nguyen from 21 Jump Street because that would be awesome.

I’ll try and squeeze in a blog a day until the end of the week – should be fun!

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Archive: What a week!

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 30 March, 2007

Well, it’s been an interesting week! I’ll keep this one short and snappy tho!!

Okay, first up – no karate on Wednesday night, as the silicone liner has been a real pain lately and I tore some skin off the back of my stump on Wednesday during the day… again. This being said, I managed to get an appointment to see the guys who take care of my leg for Thursday, and we have moved to a different shaped silicone liner, and its working an absolute treat! I didn’t wear the leg on Wednesday evening and didn’t wear it on Thursday to give the stump a rest, and the muscles are waking back up, but on the whole it is soooo much better!

News number two – I had a trip to the emergency room at the hospital on Wednesday night at about 10:30pm! I finished brushing my teeth, and within a few minutes, my mouth was swelling up, the right side of my face was going numb and my mouth has this crazy stinging feeling. The docs were mystified and the inflamation went down naturally. Got home at 3:30am. Ouch, tough night, but glad nothing worse happened and that it worked out. Props to Wifey for keeping me company, and to my mum for giving u a lift to the hospital 🙂

Will post more stuff next week – I’m outtie for the weekend!

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Archive: We can rebuild him, we have the technology

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 26 March, 2007

Ack, wasn’t able to squeeze in a third blog last week – my bad. Between another busy week at work and crunching in an assignment for post grad stuff at Uni, I wasn’t able to get one done. Bummer. But I’ve made up for it by having such an awesome title for this blog. Maybe.

Anywho, it turns out that last Wednesday I managed to get an appointment and had my leg fixed. The problem was the usual one – the big-arse spring in the knee broke in half, hence the weird clicking noise. For those unawares, the knee for my fake leg (see my pics/previous blog for an image) has a big spring inside that helps make it do its usual trickery. Assumedly, after it’s given a fair bit of abuse, the thing shatters/bends/brakes, and so on, which leads to the knee not operating as well as it should (normally, this means it doesn’t swing through as smoothly as it should), and in the worst-case scenario, the knee completely seizes up and won’t move – it stays locked in place.

The last time I had the spring changed, I’d waited ages before I managed to grab some time off work to go in and have it looked at, and the result staggered even the guys who take care of these things in their daily work. I was hoping to have a pic of it uploaded by the time I wrote this up, but was having trouble finding the pic on my mobile phone – thankfully, I’ve finally located it, so I’ll upload it over the next few days. It’s a really cool pic – I placed a brand new spring alongside the mangled one. The result was very amusing. Or at least I was amused, but I’m like that 😉

Anywho, back to the story – the leg got fixed, but due to craptacular study commitments, couldn’t make karate training on Wednesday night, which makes it three weeks in a row that I haven’t trained! Very annoying. I get the feeling my karate will be uber sloppy come Wednesday… and it just emphasises even more that I have to organise the extra night’s training to continue to push myself, and it means that in the future if I have to skip a night’s class due to work or study commitments, it means I won’t be missing an entire week’s worth of training!

Even though I’ve had the time off, I’ve been working hard on my leg stretches in the evenings, and I’m almost at the point of being able to do Chinese splits (i.e. side splits, as opposed to front splits). When I had my previous style of prosthesis (my current style uses a silicone liner for my stump, which is easier on the skin; the previous style had a flexible, plastic-type inner lining and the stump used to slide in and have direct contact with the socket… methinks I’ll have to do a post, or a series of posts, on how my leg(s) have worked over the years), there was greater flexibility between the socket and my stump, and doing the Chinese splits didn’t stress my legs as much as the current leg does, and I could get myself perfectly flat on the ground whilst balancing on my heels. With the extra work I’m putting in, I think I’m beginning to reach that same level again, which is awesome.

In addition to the stretching, I had two pretty intense weight sessions last week – Tuesday night’s workout emphasised chest/upper torso, and on Thursday my father-in-law put me through what he calls his ‘Killer Arm Workout’, with “killer” signifying intensity, and not the usual slang its used for in Australia 🙂 And you know what – he was right! After the workout, even washing my hands was difficult! It was pretty funny mind you – I felt like a penguin, moving my arms from the shoulder to get them to do anything 🙂 Hence on Friday, I was a little sore, and by Saturday, wow… I must have slept with my arms folded or curled up, because the muscles around my elbow were so sore and stiff that the tendons didn’t want to stretch at all, so I had to work on them all weekend to actually be able to stretch my arms out straight! I would like to thank the packet of voltarin for adding some anti-inflammatory goodness, and the magic mud heat rub stuff Wifey and I brought back from NZ in helping me being able to get my arms better! I can now stretch my arms out straight, and it only hurts a bit 😉 Methinks a less intensive session is in order for tomorrow night 🙂

And that’s pretty much it. I’ll post something else in the lead up to training, and will finally be able to do a post-training blog later in the week. Can’t wait – I’ve missed karate!

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Archive: Bugger

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 20 March, 2007

Hmmm, having another one of those amputee moments today. Was walking around the office minding my own business, when -clunk- the knee on my artificial leg seized up. And I muttered “Bugger” to myself. Because Australians are so eloquent when it comes cursing. Oh yes we are.

Anywho, you’re all probably wondering what the significance of this is? Well, it’s not too much to be worried about in the grand scheme of things probably… but explaining it might be a bit tricky, and once again I think to myself – wow, it’s be nice if I had a picture to show 😛 Actually, that’s a good idea – I did a search on the ‘net ad finally found the company that produces my current knee (which I swear by – it’s a brill piece of kit, perfectly suited for what I do), who are Seattle Systems. Now, hopefully this’ll work – I’ve plonked the image into the pics section, so let’s try and plonk this into my blog post and keep it looking nice:


My knee, in monochrome 😛

Okay, anywho, inside the knee, amongst other scientificy things, is a big-arse spring that helps regulate the thing’s movement. Being a somewhat active amputee, I have a habit of putting these things through their paces, and the tell-tale ‘clunk’ is normally a sign that the spring is starting to either shatter, twist out of shape, or spontaneously combust. Okay, I lied about the spontaneously combust bit. It doesn’t do that. It would be funny if it did that though… actually, it probably wouldn’t be. In fact, it’d probably be a bit shit… and possible slightly humorous, but that’s all 🙂

Anywho, what this translates to in the grand scheme of things is that my knee has now entered into an unreliable phase. Sometimes the knee will just lock up mid-step, which leads to amusing situations (trippping up, without falling over), to situations possible determined to be bad (walking down the stairs, knee locks up, leg misses the step and you tumble onwards and downwards). It also means no karate until I get it fixed up, as its current state isn’t exactly conductive to (a) jumping, (b) running, or (c) kicking. It does, however, mean I can extend my expertise in the art of falling down. It isn’t very useful mind, but it’s always good to observe some positive wherever possible 🙂

So, it’s time to slash the lunch breaks again and head out some time this week to get it fixed. If the knee worsens, I have my spare leg available, so I don’t have to worry about missing work and wasting any sick leave. Plus it means I won’t fall behind on my workload either, which is always handy.

So, unless I post otherwise, I’ll probably have to skip karate again this week. In its place though, I’ll see if I can put in another weights session followed by some cycling to make up for it, and continue stretching in the meantime. I’ll post towards the end of the week to let everyone know what happens!

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