Stupid stump

As the heading suggests, I’m in a very mature and rational mood 😛 Was heading home from work yesterday looking forward to jumping into a good session last night at the dojo, and thought – “My stump feels a bit funny, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with the prosthesis though”. By the time I got home and walked out the car though, I knew it was happening again – much like the problems I was having with my leg last week, where I thought the skin had healed over the split in my skin, it was in fact splitting open again. I was actually pretty confident that it was on the mend, but I must have gotten ahead of myself; I should have kept the bandaids over the wound a little longer, but to be honest, it was probably the great little training session I did on Tuesday that started undoing all the good I’d achieved by taking it easy over the course of the last week and a half.

The bummer is that this throws my training regime completely up in the air, as it means I definitely won’t be able to train outside of class, and wholistically, I definitely won’t be able to grade before the end of the year. I know martial isn’t all about the grading, but I like to set goals and achieve them, and am a little bummed that I’ll be falling behind that target I thought I could achieve. Not that it’s really something I could have avoided as I didn’t know the wound hadn’t completely healed over, but still, it’s a bit disappointing.

Still, all the extra effort has not gone to waste by any means – all training is good training, after all – so I’ve now revised my goal to grade up by the end of Q1 2010, and will try to train hard and get myself to a level of expertise so I can grade again before the end of next year.

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Mangling my leg (again :P)

So, no training last week (as alluded to in my previous post) – this was due to two things. First and foremost, I had a family dinner on the night I usually train, so that kinda knocked that out. But even if that wasn’t on, more serious than that was my recent mangling of my stump. Y’know, just for something different 🙂

The issue made itself pretty obvious by the time I got up Friday morning – on the back of my stump towards the upper part of the leg (the area that absorbs a lot of the impact when you walk in your prosthesis; I’ve also heard it called the “seat” of the stump, given the bone structure around the area allows the stump to sit on the rear supporting area of the prosthesis), I had a sore that had become inflamed and the skin had actually split open, meaning that whenever I walked with the prosthesis on, it was stressing and tearing the skin as I walked or sat down. I kept off the leg on Friday and took it easy over the weekend, using my walking stick wherever possible, I was hoping things were back to normal by the end of the weekend, so I took the dog for a walk Sunday afternoon around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I probably walked a little too much, because come Monday, I was only able to get half a day’s wear out of my prosthesis before I had to go home and remove it and try and rest it up for the rest of the day. While I was back at work the next day, I was heavily reliant on the walking stick for the rest of the week as I tried to get my stump to heal.

The scary thing about this is that the problems I had with my leg around the summer of 2005/2006 that eventually saw me taking nearly a year off from training started out very similarly to this – it starts with a small sore with split skin, and from there it eventually became a chronic injury that became exasperated by constant use and wear of the stump. It was bad for me for work as I had to eventually take time off to let my stump heal, we changed the interface in the socket to a silicone “sock” and I took nearly 12 months off from karate training. I’m not keen at all for a repeat of that, so I’m pleased that my leg’s manage to repair itself, and more importantly, that I’ve respected my leg’s need to heal.

So, even if I didn’t have family commitments on last week, it wouldn’t have mattered, as I needed to give my body time to sort itself out. Annoying and frustrating as it may be (I’m not overly patient with my body when it needs to heal itself :P), it’s something I’ve come to respect over the years.

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Belated training roundup – a post in three parts :)

Didn’t end up making it to training this week – I was being a good son and caught up with the family for my mum’s birthday on the usual night I train, and on the alternate night we have training available I was home from work that day because my stump’s been flaring up again, so spending an evening doing karate would have been far from productive in rectifying the situation 😛 Very rude and inconvenient of my stump to flare up like that. Mind, the issues with my stump are well and truly subject material for other posts, so I’ll leave it here.

Anywho, on the training side of things – again, was another really good session, I’m finding that ever since the last grading I’ve been trying to add extra focus and energy into each lesson and it’s really paying off, or at least that’s how I’ve been feeling. There’s always that old adage that a lot of karateka note – you only get out what you put into your training, and if you don’t train every class like how you perform during your grading, you won’t grow as a martial artist. While the claims are lofty if I’m trying to say I’m living up to this in any way, I’m hoping that by training and committing myself with this elevated level of dedication, I’ll be able to progress at a greater rate… I found that when I was training throughout 2008 that I wasn’t putting in that dedicated, focused energy into my training that I’ve been working hard on achieving this year. Hopefully I’m starting to get there since I took note of how I worked during my previous grading and have started trying to apply this to each training session I attend.

… if nothing else, it is at least a good ideal to work towards 🙂

I’ve also got some thoughts to post on getting started on my next kata and on my mawashi geri technique, which I’ll tuck into tomorrow (hence the “a post in three parts” bit in the title) – it’s getting late so Wifey and I are off to bed!

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Transferring martial arts from two legs to one leg (literally)

Okay, bit of background on this theory – when I seriously mangled my stump back in… early 2006, and had almost a year off from my training to recover from the damage, I found myself trying to transfer those skills to my existing condition and start to work on theorising how I could transfer the techniques and knowledge I had gained from learning karate as an amputee into something I could do on one leg — literally, as this was when I couldn’t even wear my prosthesis.

This seems a bit odd – karate (and by extension, martial arts in general) draw from the body’s natural synergy insofar as the body’s symmetry is concerned – that is, you have a left-hand side and a right-hand side of your body, and it’s by using both sides and all four limbs together that you can extract maximum performance, strength, efficiency and so forth. Training in a martial art with one leg whilst wearing a prosthesis presents challenges to the body’s natural equilibrium, but what happens when you remove the limb altogether?

That’s what I started to investigate. My early experiments were seeing if it was possible to control techniques whilst on crutches. As time has gone on (three years if I’m not mistaken given its 2009 now), I’ve tried to move beyond this, and try and transfer at least some techniques to performing them on one leg. I think I’ve started making a little progress at this stage, and as amateur as it may seem, I might have to get my wife to take some photos so I can post them up on the blog. The main difference is that it is significantly more difficult to transfer powerful techniques on one leg, and the amount of energy required to keep up is absolutely incredible. When doing standing reverse-punches, you have to shift your center of balance slightly, but with practice you can start to pull off techniques with a high degree of hip rotation to start achieving effective technique.

Blocks and grappling are a bit restricted, but if you use measured effort to hold your balance, there is a degree of light technique that I’ve been able to achieve at this stage. Whilst my holds/grappling skills are pretty weak, I think there is a huge potential here to investigate different options, as the lack of a limb theoretically gives you greater access to monkey-style grappling where you can easily grapple with relative agility around/over your opponent. I think it would take an experienced jujutsu/BJJ or grappling fighter to really harness this, but I think the possibilities are there. If ever I learn groundfighting styles further down the road, it would certainly be an interesting exercise to work out how to transfer those principles to this style of technique.

Kicks obviously are pretty much non-existent unless I’m on my crutches, but at that I’m only really limited to thrusting kicks which only have a certain degree of utility. To be honest, it would probably be far more effective to separate the bottom shaft of the crutches and wield them like kali sticks than rely on the crutches for support in doing a thrusting forward kick.

So yeah, just a few thoughts there. Like I said, in a couple of weeks I might get Wifey to take some snapshots whilst I investigate techniques and demonstrate a few techniques I’ve worked out for when I’m without my prosthesis. This train of thought was inspired in part because I’ve had issues with my stump this week and it got me back to thinking about what’s possible in such a condition. Definitely something to think about.

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Stupid fun happy photo time

Random stupidity

Yes, that’s me clutching a soccer ball between my leg and my stump whilst doing a handstand under water.

I just thought it would be fun to share 🙂

This is officially my shortest blog ever. I hope you’re enjoyed it 🙂

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