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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.