Tai Chi and adaptive Kung Fu catch-up

During the time that I was away from the blog creating the FAQ I still kept up with my physio’ sessions of course. I have to as the pain still needs managing no matter what else is happening. In fact that has to come first for me to be able to do anything else anyway. So I kept up with the Tai Chi and was training for this year’s nationals in Oxford and London.

I also kept up with the adaptive Kung Fu taught by the same fabulously supportive teacher.

So I’ve had a few progressions to celebrate since I last posted about these physio’ focuses.

I sourced my very own purple, (yes I’m sticking with the purple!) Tai Chi ‘silks’ and when they arrived I was so chuffed to have my own set that I wanted to take a piccy of them to show you. On the very same day though I was awarded my green sash in adaptive Kung Fu so I was pretty overwhelmingly happy and took a photo’ of the two together…

TC silks & KF green sash

Each time the Tai Chi tournaments come around there’s something new about our performances. There is always additional detail and improvements which we’ve spent the last year working on, but this was also my first year competing at intermediate level (for those who’ve been learning Tai Chi for 2-5 years). I was bowled over to win a gold for my performance at each tournament again this year, plus there was the added surprise of being awarded joint bronze at London for overall intermediate as well. So yep, I’m pretty amazed at the outcomes, especially the London one because a) I had performed the 24 form at Oxford and only started learning the 42 form 8 weeks before London, and b) I had to wait all day before it was time for me to perform… by which time I was a mess! My brain was going, my Dysautonomia was playing up, I couldn’t think straight and basically felt downright dreadful. So I decided that if I managed to get through it without making any massive errors or falling over that I’d be happy. After all, I don’t so much compete with my Tai Chi peers as with my health. If I can kick the metaphorical arses of CRPS & Dysautonomia then I’m a happy bunny! So yeah, winning in that state was one heck of a shock! Maybe I’m alright at this Tai Chi thing! 😉

I know that it would be appropriate to have a piccy of me after performing at London as I collapsed in a sweaty heap the moment it was safe to do so, drank a bottle of water in one long gulping session, shovelled down some salty peanuts and then just sat there cross-legged with my head in my hands. Funnily enough poor Magic Dude was more concerned about me than he was about documenting the state I was in, we’ll make sure he gets his priorities right next time! 😉 So here’s an alternative but not-so-interesting piccy instead, x

TC medals 2014

Of course it’s been so long now that I’ve since graded again in adaptive Kung Fu. I am now the proud, and rather gobsmacked, owner of a blue sash! 🙂

KF blue sash

None of these achievements were things I aimed to attain. It’s all been a case of trying things because I want to, let’s face it… doing a physio’ that we actually enjoy or which makes us feel good about what we’ve achieved is well worth the effort just for that, let alone all the physical good that we do it for. And yes, don’t get me started on the extended Aftermath Pain from attending the tournaments! But it’s worth it. For kicking the arse of my health conditions… it’s so worth it!

I do push myself, but I do it within the knowledge of how to work pain management activity balanced with rest and recovery. Plus I pay attention to the feedback from my body and work from the adaptive point of view to keep me from plunging into any unnecessary mega-flares. That is where the ‘adaptive’ aspect is really important. There’s no sense in comparing myself with healthy classmates, I do what I can for my body and for my inner self.

Of course mega-flares are part and parcel of competing twice a year and whenever I dare to grade, but the psychological boost I gain from feeling like I’ve just stuck my fingers up and my tongue out at my health issues helps to get me through the flare,  which is finite, whereas the achievement will be with me for life.

Ah yes, I love Tai Chi!
I’ll be practicing it to whatever capacity I can, including (especially) when I’m crinkly and weathered! (I was gonna say “until I’m crinkly and ricketty” but I’m already sooo ricketty it didn’t really work, heh!)

I am amazed and so pleased that I have the chance to adapt the Kung Fu around my issues, and if I never get further than the blue sash I’ll still be thrilled. 🙂

P.S. My teacher is awesomeness! Thank-you teach’!

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To my wonderful readers out there: Do something you love, it doesn’t have to be much and it doesn’t have to be difficult, but never cap your potential. What we can achieve over time can be surprising, so allow yourself room to be pleasantly surprised.

x

Kung Fu achievement!

Well I managed to post more of the written ‘challenge’ posts in a row than I have done before… 9 days in a row! Win! (Although some days it was just a piccy, so maybe that’s why)!

Then my brain started to waft in and out of existence like some sort of a quantum hiccup? Or something. Er. Anyway.. it probably didn’t help that on the 5th of November I pushed myself a bit harder in my King Fu physio’ class for my grading. Yep. That’d do it!

As I’ve said before (when posting about starting Kung Fu and gaining my white sash) I attend a class focused on technique, so there’s no press-ups or doing laps round the gym or weightlifting or any of that other stuff that would induce exorbitant pain levels and kick in first with a good strong near-syncope response! We learn techniques and we practice them slowly because we have to get them right. If we tried to do them fast we’d end up with a sloppy technique so it’s a totally different animal to the way the kickboxing, muay thai and MMA (mixed martial arts) are also taught there. In fact it is much more like the Tai Chi that I also study at the same gym. There is a large amount of overlap between Tai Chi and Kung Fu in the style of moves and their applications so I find that each one has insight to give to the other, which is pretty cool.

Anyway, there I was on the 5th at the gym demonstrating different moves that I had learnt, both on my own and in slow-mo ‘sparring’. (I don’t do sparring exactly, I suspect I look more like a crazy slow-mo flapping starfish heading towards my opponent / bemused classmate)!

Here’s a pic’ someone took on their mobile phone of me doing some basic punch exercises at the end (my body was trying to keel over by this point so I’m concentrating very hard)…

KF Grading for yellow sashI passed the grading and now have the honour of wearing a yellow sash…

KF yellow sash

Wow!

As regular readers know, I don’t cap my potential. I’d rather enjoy the present and keep working to see where it might take me. I basically aim ridiculously high on purpose, and I strongly value each achievement that I manage along the way however far I manage to get.

I am lucky to have a teacher who is used to thinking adaptively from teaching Tai Chi to people with various health conditions, so she’ll help me find ways through wherever possible. There are no free passes and I wouldn’t like it if there were, but thinking adaptively around my health works.

I spoke to a fellow patient who used to teach martial arts (and who is wonderfully encouraging to me with my attempts at learning in this field despite the health issues – thank-you, you know who you are 😀 xx) and was ever so pleased to hear about adaptive teaching at her club where one wheelchair user was working up through the belt system. I know of others who have also followed right through to black belt despite only the use of one arm, and such like. There are many different styles of martial arts that have developed over the centuries which tend to suit different types of body sizes, strengths etc. It makes sense for someone like me to learn a defensive style which uses technique over strength, even if I was healthy I would choose from the defensive arts because it would work better with my frame and strength anyway.

To me, developing alternate aspects to allow for health / physical limitations is as sensible as choosing the right martial art for our body. In fact it is positively encouraged in Tai Chi – Eastern views of Tai Chi is that it is for anyone of any ability, and any good martial arts teacher will be willing to adapt for their students where required. I have spent lessons practicing my arm movements whilst sitting on a chair and I have spent lessons practicing only footwork when I couldn’t twist my painy lower back.

I incorporate the classes into my paced physio’ time, so that’s how I fit it into the pain management. The big problems for me are the autonomic sillies.. if I get slightly out of breath (pretty easy as I’ve not been able to exercise other than physio’ for so many years) then my heart goes far faster than it needs to, I get fainty and sometimes the palpitations and/or dysrhythmia kicks in. So I need to learn to go even slower when these start happening.

I’ve found that the palpitations and dysrhythmia are getting less common at the moment (they got worse on my current meds and the side effects aren’t improving so currently I’m gonna go with my ANS adjusting to the regular classes) (fingers crossed anyway)!

And that’s my exciting news! 🙂

Oh yes, and I’ve got a mini-tournament in Tai Chi at the gym on Sunday where I will be performing the Sun Style 73 form in front of others for the first time. It’ll be my practice at being in ‘tournament mode’ for next April because we’re learning more about how my health reacts each time I do it which means I can plan better each time. Fingers crossed that I don’t make too many mistakes!

Big hugs from me, I hope that you are all having as smooth-running a day as possible,

x