Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back on the Mats and Training

Last night I got back on the mats and resumed my Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu training. I took 2 weeks off after I sprained my Achilles tendon right at the beginning of my purple belt grading. I pushed through the grading and avoided doing things that would make it worse, but I must admit that it was pretty sore afterwards, so I needed to take some time off to recover.

I need my body to be healthy for what I do, so I take my healing very seriously. Whenever you get any joint sprain, it's wise to avoid using the joint for the first 48 hours, a vital period of your healing. I didn't even go into the dojo for the first 48 hours so as to avoid standing on my bum ankle. After that, I resumed teaching, but tried stay off my ankle as much as possible as I did so. Even when I was just standing around and giving advice, I did feel sore by the end of a class at first. Jenny, my doctor student, gave me some exercises to strengthen the joint gradually over time. I've been religious in doing them. And last night, I was finally ready to get back to the mats and train.

I'm still not a full capacity though. Running and skipping are still stressful on my ankle, so I had to do my own warm-up independent of the class. I did 5-10 minutes of shrimping and crab walking rather than participating in the classes usual running exercises. The only other thing I had to make modifications for was forward stance (zenkutsu dachi) practice. When my injured ankle was the back leg in the stance, I had to do a modified half stance to avoid stressing the ankle. Other than that, I was able to function completely normally in class, which is great after 2 weeks of doggin' it! :)

Anyway, sometimes you have to back out of training to let yourself heal, but in some cases you can get back to training in a limited capacity if you're diligent about avoiding things that will could hamper your healing. If you do decide to get back to training, make sure you do so under the guidance of your doctor so you know what types of movements to avoid. Some people, however, just can't participate in a class and hold back in any way. These people are probably best served by waiting until they're fully healed before returning.

Have you ever had to train around an injury? What adjustments did you need to make to allow you to train?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Promotion to Purple Belt in Shorinji Kan Jiu jitsu

Last weekend I graded for my purple belt in Shorinji Kan. I'm happy to announce that I passed. :) After the grading, a course was put on by Andy Dobie Sensei (head of Jitsu Canada) and Steve Hiscoe Shihan (heir apparent to the style of Can-ryu). We were all told that we would find out the results of the grading after the course. I was told to go ahead and change into my Can-ryu gi and black belt, but this of course led to a humourous belt presentation later on.

They called up each candidate to receive their new belts one at a time. When it came to me, Dobie Sensei said, "Hmmm... now where did she go?", then looked at me in the Dan line-up and said, "Oh, there you are!" He even referred to me as O'Connell Sensei when he called me to receive my belt. Since we were taking photos of everyone with their new belts afterwards, I switched my gi, put on my purple belt, then lined up with all the Kyu-ranked students. It was all very amusing. I was proud to be demoted from Yondan to purple belt. :P In the photo below, me and some former white belts are tossing up our previous belts, graduation style.

The course was awesome. Hiscoe Shihan started by teaching handcuffing techniques, which was interesting because this is not something on our usual curriculum. That's the benefit of having the law enforcement influence. Dobie Sensei followed up by showing a number of takedowns with strong emphasis on kuzushi (balance breaking), which everyone appreciated.

These combination style courses are great for students to attend. They get to see different instructors, different styles and different perspectives. I always walk away having learned something and enjoy seeing my students talking excitedly afterwards about the new experience. If you have the opportunity to attend these types of events, I highly recommend it.

I was asked by a few students why I would grade in Shorinji Kan for Kyu belts when I already have my Yondan in Can-ryu. It's all about keeping up with my learning. There is always more you can learn, more you can improve, but sometimes it's hard to get solid training time in when you're an instructor. It's easier to focus on your own learning when someone else is in charge. I've seen many an instructor become complacent in their own learning to the point that they become stagnant and start losing interest. For me to keep my enthusiasm up, for both teaching and training, it's important for me to train outside my own dojo. I chose Shorinji Kan because I wanted to focus a bit more on throwing (which they specialize in more than we do), plus I have the benefit of having an in-house Shodan in that style at my own dojo.

Are you an instructor who cross-trains in another style? What style did you choose and why?