Detecting Kung Fu Injuries

injuries

While practicing kung fu, how can you keep yourself injury free? It’s a pretty strenuous sport as well as being a full contact one. Most martial arts come with a degree of physical pain due to the nature of the activity. People are striking one another, and the body could succumb to a number of painful abrasions. So the trick is to know what a real injury is versus just the regular wear and tear of the sport.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to properly stretch before every routine to prevent unnecessary muscle pulls. Students get so excited to go out onto the mat, that they rush themselves and aren’t properly prepared. Most good instructors will force everyone to stretch properly for a certain amount of time to make sure everyone is ready to go. Anyone who is playing a traditional sport such as football or baseball knows that if you throw the ball before you are warmed up, you can easily pull your shoulder.

The same is true for martial arts. The muscles move in a similar fashion, and injury can be just as likely. After the workout is just as important to focus on as well. Just like a proper warm-up, a proper warm down is necessary as well. If one stop strenuous exercise too quickly, the muscles will contract too fast which is not healthy for the participant.


Now how about the physical impact that kung fu has on the person being assailed. Someone taking a punch or hit may not feel the impact right away because their adrenaline is flowing too fast. The chemicals flowing in the brain can mask physical pain which will delude the opponent into thinking they’re fine when they are not. After every sparring round each participant should take inventory of their body, to see if they have been hurt in any way during the last bout. It only takes a few seconds to mentally scan yourself to make sure everything is okay.

Lastly, it is important for adepts to monitor themselves the day after a strenuous workout. Injuries sometimes take 24 hours or more to show themselves. While person may think they are fine after a match, the next day they may have found that they have done damage. So at this point is necessary for students to analyze whether their injury is serious, or they are just sore from the impact.

If you are unsure of your condition, it is very important that you meet with your instructor and let him or her know how you feel. They had years of experience in dealing with these situations and can advise you properly. Their first priority is to keep you safe at all costs. It is better for them to have you sit out for a while and heal up, than to risk serious or permanent injury.

Kung Fu and Meditation Together

martial arts meditation

So up to this point, I’ve been talking about Kung Fu and meditation. Know some people may think, how do these to work together? I mean, Kung Fu is all about fighting and defending yourself, and meditation is about developing peace of mind, and becoming one with the universe. How can these to complement each other?

Roll the practice of Kung Fu is about uniting mind and body. The practice and skills needed to learn kung fu require that the student concentrate their entire attention to what they’re doing. They utilize motions and muscle groups that they had never used before. Beginning components of meditation address creating concentration on one object or concept to help clear the mind. As a kung fu practitioner, one must focus their attention entirely on what they are doing. This helps create that one pointed attention necessary to achieve meditative results.

When the body’s performing functions that it never had before, it snaps a person out of their mental inertia and brings them into reality. When we do day to day activities, our minds stores these in our subconscious so that we may complete these tasks on autopilot. Think of your morning routine. How often do you wake up, make coffee, take a shower, and get dressed completely without thinking about it at all. You could literally reflect upon your day and not remember doing many of the things that you had done. While this is handy making our life functionally easier, it takes us out of reality and allows for delusional thinking to run amok.

kung fu calm mind

So when you are doing something you have never done before, you must concentrate on your actions which keeps you grounded in reality. So by practicing kung fu, or any other martial art, it is basically a form of meditation in action. Your mind is centered on what you are doing, and there is no room for unnecessary outside thoughts or distractions.

Now the meditation component on its own, trains the mind to be able to focus for longer periods of time. This a allows a martial arts student to learn their skill and a faster rate, because they are running with a higher level of concentration than others. The time to learn and develop is shorter, and they get more out of their practice.

Continued Meditation

andes mountain village

Upon returning from my meditation trip from the Andes Mountains, I returned to my Kung Fu dojo with a new sense of peace and serenity. I felt the trip did me a lot of good and was key for my future training. I noticed that my demeanor was calmer during practice and sparring sessions. I even felt the need to give instruction and advice to my fellow Kung Fu constituents.

I knew that meditation and martial arts went hand-in-hand, but didn’t feel that I had the time to do both. And as I found coming back from my trip, that a calmer mind actually speeds up my training, and also gives me a broader look at my life in general, and how to focus on the things that really matter. I cut out some activities that weren’t beneficial to me, as well as some relationships that weren’t good for my spirit.

To make sure that this state of mind would be nurtured, I decided to look for a local meditation center here in Ohio. Surprisingly, there were a number of centers to choose from. So I went online and read reviews of some of the top facilities. I settled on the Shambhala Meditation Center of Columbus. They seem to have a number of different classes and levels.

my meditation class

On arriving, I decided to start with the beginner groups. Even though I thought I had learned a lot from my trip to the mountains, I thought it better to start at the beginning. I told one of the instructors that I was a Kung Fu enthusiast, and he informed me that his students come from all walks of life, and come from different parts of the country.

One of the people I hit it off with right away was Jon. He is a rock drummer who now teaches online drum lessons on his website https://jonkois.rocks. He would travel once a week from Pennsylvania to attend 3 groups in one day. Along the way I also met architects, doctors, teachers, and basically people from every walk of life. They and I are searching for the same thing, finding peace in everyday life.

So when I return to my dojo, I constantly feel peace and gratitude towards my life and practice that I owe entirely to meditation. So no matter what you do or who you are, guided meditation will help you enjoy your life and endeavors on a whole new level.

Learning Meditation in the Andes

My Kung Fu training up to this point has been amazing. I’ve learned so much in the little bit of time I’ve been coming here, and my knowledge base grows and grows with each visit to the Dojo. My instructors really noticed my zeal for the class as well as my willingness to help others who were newer than I was.

One day before we began, I was speaking to one of the masters about my anxiety in everyday living. I had a high-pressure job, a family that demanded a lot of my attention, and the constant need to keep up with the Joneses. He asked me if I was willing to take a vacation all by myself. I thought that was a weird question to ask, so I prompted him for more information.

He told me that many of the students who did very well, still had a problem reaching certain levels because they were experiencing mental blocks that were holding them back. He knew of some places I could go were I could receive individual training, as well as the locale to properly meditate on my studies away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

So about two months later I put my affairs in order, and booked a trip to the Andes Mountains. I cheated a little, and went by way of a tour group, but that was just to get me there. I made arrangements to meet a local guide at the airport who would take me the rest of the way to my destination.

When we got there, the tour guide tried to herd everyone to the waiting bus, but I told her to go on ahead and out catch up with them later. I waited at the designated spot for about two hours thinking that my local guide wasn’t coming. About 10 minutes later a very short but stocky man approached me, and beckoned me to follow him.

We traveled along rough roads, through valley openings, and over challenging hills. His English was very broken, so our conversation was kept to a minimum. He did inform me about the area, because he had grown up there. He told me about the farms, and all the local vegetation that was harvested there. They also cared for a large number of animals which were a staple for their income. He helped raise sheep and alpacas to provide the local clothing manufacturers with all the wool they needed.

alpaca farm

He included that most of the wool that goes into making baby alpaca clothing in the United States comes from this region. I learned a lot during that trip about how faraway cultures live and thrive.

When we arrived at our destination, I was met by an elderly gentleman who spoke absolutely no English. I was thinking how is this going to work. Over the next several days, he guided me through basic to advanced yoga and meditation practices. In the evenings, we would just sit on the side of the mountain and stare out into the vast and beautiful jungles and flatlands that speckled Andes Mountains.

mountains

What I didn’t realize was happening at the time, was that I was learning the skills I needed in an environment that represented stillness and quietness at all times. If one is going to learn the concepts of meditation, it should be an environment away from the noise of society.

When I left, I felt more open and happy that I had in a long time. I knew I could incorporate these practices into my kung fu and life in general. My mind was so open, that I didn’t even need the guide to bring me back to join the rest of the tour group. When I arrived, I was inundated with questions of where I’d been and what I’ve been doing.

Upon arriving back in the United States, I was greeted by my wife and kids and they said that I looked different. I told him maybe it was the tan I picked up from being outside but they said no it was something else. That experience change my life, and I use the the practices that I learned now in my everyday life. I intend to go back every couple of years to work on my meditation training, because once you have this in your life you will never be the same.

The Risks Associated with Kung Fu

injuries

Injuries associated with Kung Fu are not uncommon and according to scientific studies they are in fact very prevalent although they happen to vary in regards to the type of mixed martial arts being performed. Still, it is important to note that if engaging in this sport, you are also at risk for injuries which often include not only severe bruising, strains and sprains but also broken bones, trips to the emergency room and more. The CPSC, which is the acronym for the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, reported that in the year 2011, more than thirty-five thousand individuals presented to the emergency room department for reasons relating to martial arts. This is an astonishing amount and something most individuals most likely would never realize.

If you ever watch a training session in a Dojo, there are plenty of mats and cushions to help protect the participants. The sparing is meant to develop technique and posture, not to actually inflict harm on your opponent. There are also coaches and referees on hand to make sure everyone is safe and is practicing good sportsmanship, but things do happen in the heat of the moment.

In regards to minor injuries such as strains and sprains, it is quite common for the knee and ankle to sustain the aforementioned due to the amount of fast striking such as punching and kicking. If one kicks or punches improperly or jumps and lands incorrectly then the chance of injuring yourself is greater. Additionally, it is a regular occurrence for mixed martial arts fighters to experience jammed fingers and toes. Even something as simple as catching yourself when you fall can cause an tear or contusion that could put you on the injured list.

concussions

More severe consequences of Kung Fu include concussions and broken bones. The detrimental factor of concussions is not realizing the problem and not going to the hospital when you should. There was a extreme case at the Academy of Asian Martial Arts LLC in Scranton, PA where a teenager was hurt, but said he was really ok. Two days later he collapsed in school and was rushed to a Scranton Orthopedics center where they found he in fact had a fractured skull. If he had been behind the wheel, he could have died and/or killed somebody.

It is important to remember that sometimes the symptoms of a concussion are not immediately present right after the injury; it may take hours or even a day to detect the problem. When someone is coming off of an injury, they may be quick to want to get back on the mat, but you must follow a doctor’s advice to the letter. Don’t take a chance on aggravating an old injury, just to get back to your class.

While a pleasurable sport, Kung Fu injuries are not something to take lightly but serious in their consequences and levels of severity. You can have fun and be safe too.

Kung Fu And Responsibility

why-like-kung-fu

In the West we have grown to associate kung fu as the Chinese term for martial arts when a more accurate translation is actually ‘time and effort’. But as always it’s never quite as simple a concept as it initially appears – the two need to be skilfully applied in appropriate measure. For instance at the beginning when I was traveling over to Sifu once a month I was putting both time and effort into my training but in doing so without appropriate supervision my attempts at kung fu were actually hindering my progress in taiji. When the time came for me to start teaching taiji I was putting a lot of effort into my classes but not giving the students enough time to acclimatize to the demands taiji will make of them. I needed to allow them the space to take on the responsibility of studying my art, in the same manner as Sifu had done when sharing his with me.

Having aspirations of running a successful school the notion that my intensity was driving away students was weighing on my mind and I was quietly contemplating my teaching ‘style’ when Sifu continued the lesson.

“It’s not something to worry about – just be aware of it. Like everything we do it is a continued learning experience. New students are usually nervous enough when they walk into a strange class so the last thing they need is the instructor constantly in their face. It’s very easy for enthusiasm and passion to become overwhelming and intimidating. If you’re relaxed, calm and having fun so will your students and then they’ll keep coming back and then once they learn and accept the responsibility for their continued progress, you can give them hell! I always go easy on the beginners and save it all up for my advanced students.” he laughed.

kung fu instruction

In martial arts circles we often talk about the ‘burden’ of responsibility and I used to think that ‘burden’ was the wrong word to use, but now I’m not so sure. Anything worth studying requires both time and effort; it requires kung fu. A teacher never chooses the student; the student always seeks out the teacher. Once found the teacher will then present the path upon which the student must travel and it is the responsibility of the student to decide whether or not it is a journey they wish to make. Every path to be followed has a price and we all as individuals have to evaluate whether the cost is one that we are willing to pay.

Taking responsibility for our lives is sometimes a scary prospect for it requires courage and the acceptance that there will be a price to pay – but having control of our destiny is liberating, having no-one and no-thing to blame we also have nothing to hold us back. It would have been very easy for me to be sitting here writing an article about how I could be studying taiji if I didn’t have a job that held me back – just as it would be easy for me to moan about how nobody wants to attend my classes. The fact of the matter is that I could be writing about a lot of things, but thankfully I am able to write about and share things I love in life and all due to accepting the responsibility to study the art of kung fu!

Kung Fu Stretching

stretch

Kung Fu is a popular form of martial arts that’s steeped in history, but to improve at the sport it’s best to increase your flexibility. What’s more, being flexible will help you to prevent injuries and progress faster. While it may seem like a hassle and something you’d prefer not to do at first, Kung Fu stretching will help you become more limber and can even feel good to your muscles and joints. Proper stretching will also aid in the healing and repair process while you’re getting stronger.

Types of Flexibility

 

The object of stretching is to increase three primary types of flexibility: static passive, static active, and dynamic. Static passive flexibility will help when it comes to mastering splits. As with any new technique, you will want to gain progress slowly as not to injure yourself. If you to increase your split range too quickly, you could get hurt and be off the mat for weeks. While static active flexibility will aid you in holding extended poses with ease. This has less impact on your system, and you can push these methods a little harder.
In order to get high kicks and obtain flexibility while in motion, you’ll need to improve dynamic flexibility. Dan Tian kicks, side kicks, hip rotations, squats with stretches, and sitting stretches are examples of exercises that will help you improve your flexibility and  skill. Be patient with yourself, and allow your body to advance at it’s own pace.

static stretch

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Many think it’s a good idea to do a long and elaborate stretching routine before beginning a Kung Fu session, but that’s not typically the best route to take. For one, you want to concentrate on doing stretches related to the specific type of moves you’re training. Also, deep stretching before martial arts workouts incorporating ballistic movements — such as high kicks — will leave your muscles more prone to injury.

Keep it light and do slow, controlled stretches before you work on your Kung Fu skills. After your workout, opt for deep static stretches to cool down. You may want to also try doing only dynamic Kung Fu stretches before performing dynamic moves.

Be Consistent

To obtain maximum flexibility, it’s best to regularly stretch before and after your workout. You don’t have to spend long periods of time doing it, but consistency is key. Taking just five minutes to stretch at least five times per week will yield significant improvements. Over time these methods will become a part of your training, and you won’t mind them at all.