Sunday, March 12, 2006


As usual, attended the Saturday morning Tang Soo Do family class with my kids yesterday. Class was going great -- my hand and foot line techniques are looking solid. The only real criticism Mr. Vasquez had for my form was my typical lack of shin chook: I was tense and inflexible for much of the class, in no small part due to the presence of an audience (my wife and her parents were watching us in class this time). I don't worry about being watched, but it made me want to excel, which got in the way of my relaxation.

So we get to the middle of class and we start mixing things up, doing improvised combinations of foot techniques and hand techniques. I was doing really well until I tried to mix the two. For some reason, combining hand and foot techniques, both offensive and defensive, really fogged my head. I think it's because I have trouble visualizing myself fighting an opponent -- instead, I tend to formulate a series of movement ahead of time, and then just execute them. With all the choices available when mixing both hand and foot techniques I was a bit overwhelmed. But anyway, I worked my way -- haltingly -- across the mat, throwing different punches and kicks, filling in gaps with defensive hand techniques, and when I ran out of mat I decided to go for a big finish.

OK, so have you seen "The Karate Kid"? You know that kick? One knee raised, pump the leg up and throw the opposing leg up for a high front kick? Jumping front kick, I believe it is called. Anyway, I decide to do one of those. It doesn't occur to me as I'm about to perform this move that I will be doing the kick with my left leg, which has been feeling iffy and sore the past week or so. I've been overtraining, and it's feeling the brunt of it, so I've been trying to avoid using it for more aggressive techniques.

Until this one moment, of course, when I'm a bit confused and frustrated with chaining techniques together and I'm not thinking clearly.

Well, I prepare, pump my right knee high in front of myself, and then switch my weight and propel myself off the mat, swinging my left knee up and then extending my foot high -- and I mean high -- above my head. Really high. "Highest kick I've ever thrown" high. High enough for Mr. Vasquez and Mr. Kannan to both react with a shouted "WHOA!" Awesome kick.

Unfortunately, at the apex of the kicking motion, I felt my entire left hamstring complex sort of go ... "thwang." Not a ripping sensation, exactly, but more like my hamstring shifted to one side and then snapped back into place, like big rubber bands. And when I landed my left leg just sort didn't want to work so much. I excused myself from the mat and tried to walk it off, but I could feel that my entire left leg was just weak now. The pain was tolerable -- nothing sharp, nothing throbbing -- but when I tried to get back on the mat for some light one step practice I found that twisting movements were causing some real jabs of pain in the center of the back of my thigh, and I had to call it a day.

So now I'm worried. It feels ... OK-ish. I can walk fine, although I feel some achiness. There's no visible bruising (whew) which means it's not a large rupture or tear, and probably only qualifies as a mild strain. I do have tenderness throughout much of the rear of my thigh, though. And while I feel better today, the sense of weakness in the leg remains.

Argh. I have no idea how long it takes to recover from these things. I am testing for my orange belt in less than two weeks and here I am gimping around with a screwed-up hamstring. I think it's safe to say that free sparring is off the menu for the time being, but I also have to talk with Sa Bom Nim Nunan and ask his advice on ordinary training in the upcoming weeks. I think my white belt-level technique is pretty solid, and I have only a couple of areas that will be covered in testing about which I'm unsteady (a couple of the one-steps and wrist grabs still throw me for a loop), so missing some classes shouldn't present an huge obstacle to testing, I shouldn't think. But I also don't know what level of activity I should be undertaking to speed healing, as opposed to hinder it.

Arrgh. I'm just so pissed at myself. I couldn't resist doing a flashy move for my wife, my kids, my in-laws, and now I've got my first real injury from training. I mean, I know I need to get used to this stuff. Tang Soo Do is a physically challenging and demanding art. Injuries come with the territory, perhaps even moreso when one is a beginner in their late-thirties with an innate desire to over-achieve. I need to accept that I will sometimes injure myself in ways that require me to stop training for a while to recover. But the timing of this injury really concerns me. I do not want to miss my test. I should never have done that kick.

But man, it was a great kick.

Mood: Tense
Now Playing: Thievery Corporation, "The Cosmic Game"


melanie said...

Ice then heat, ice then heat! And rest. I hope that gets better, I know nothing irritates me more than when I hurt myself running.. and have to take some days off.

Gregg P. said...

Thanks Melanie -- I agree, it's so damn frustrating to be out of commission. I'm going to call my instructor this morning and ask his advice as far as training in the next week or so: Not sure what I need to do to ensure that my leg is back in shape for my test. My main concern is that my knee feels weak, and I'm worried about incurring a far more debilitating knee injury due to the weakness in the supporting muscles.

However, one point of advice: NEVER use heat the first 48 hours after an injury. If you've got any torn muscle fibers then heat can actually aggravate the injury by increasing blood flow to the injured area, causing additional bleeding and swelling to the muscles. After 48 hours or so any tears and bleeding should have settled down and then heat is OK to help sooth the muscles and relieve pain and swelling. But prior to that time, use only cold and compression.