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

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Ev’rybody was Kung Fu fightiiiing

So… I have news…!

As many of you will know I’ve been spending some of my crucial physio’ time learning Tai Chi for the past couple of years. I’m still going, that’s not the news, no change there. Although, news-wise, I’ve just learnt the final moves to the Sun Style 73 form, and I’m also learning the Yang Style Sword 16 form. Wheeeeee! Love it!

My teacher and her business partner have various martial arts classes taught at their club, not just Tai Chi. Of course most martial arts are fast and waaaay beyond me in terms of fitness and health requirements. Classes include Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts.

But a while ago they started a new class which massively overlaps with Tai Chi. It’s not focused on fitness, but instead on technical aspects. It’s a mix of Chinese Boxing with Kung Fu. After some discussion with my teacher I decided to give it a whirl! *gasp* Which basically means that I get to apply my Tai Chi knowledge, learn some new moves, feel safer for knowing some self defence and it allows me to push my physio’ within a safe environment.

Many years ago the first physiotherapist I saw at a hospital told me that I should be able to do anything within my physio’ time even if my pain levels then go up and I keel over later. Of course that was also the physiotherapist who decided by herself that my diagnosis from the national specialists was not actually true, so she worked on the assumption that I had a common or garden type of chronic pain rather than the multi-systemic reality of CRPS. *sigh* Don’t worry, her boss knew the score and I worked around her! But as I’ve worked at the physio’ pacing over the years I have found that I can do more during my physio’s on less symptomatic days as long as I stick very carefully to the time limit. I inevitably experience greater pain and symptoms post-physio’, but if I am consistent and don’t push it too much this actually helps to keep my pain levels from soaring as high as it used to overall. (Which, for a CRPSer, is pretty good)! As long as I spend the rest of the day resting and recuperating (which I have to after any physio’s anyway). Being trapped on the sofa on painkillers is my reality whatever activity I do during my physio’ time, so a fulfilling physio’ helps me cope with the recuperation time.

It helps enormously that my teacher has worked with me in Tai Chi for a couple of years… she knows me well enough to know that I push myself too hard sometimes and so she reels me in a bit! She also is pretty good at spotting when I’m having a symptomatic day, and knows when not to pick me up on certain types of errors because they’ll iron themselves out when I’m feeling better. Although she does not know lots about the complex condition (I mean, it’s not like it’s a ‘common knowledge’ kinda condition!) she has taken on board all sorts of information about the kind of problems I’m trying to work around. Yep. Basically she is a Superhero teacher!

So I’ve been attending these Kung Fu lessons once a week and learning how to deal with things like someone grabbing my arm or my top (handy arm locks with minimal effort), how to apply the kind of moves I’d previously only learnt in slow mo’ (like sweeping someone out of the way with minimal effort), and different kinds of blocks and responses to someone moving in to throw a punch or a kick (in slow mo’ because I can’t react to it fast yet 😉 ).

Kung Fu is all about technique and it’s defence-based. So moves begin with a block and then respond in very straight forward ways to use the attacker’s move against themselves. It’s about the quickest ways to relieve yourself of your attacker so that you can exit the scene safely. My teacher is used to working around students with injuries and/or health limitations, so I really thank my lucky stars that I flukily ended up in her class at the gym as it turns out that it was the beginning of a journey I could never have guessed at the time. 🙂

I guess you may have heard of the phrase “once in a blue moon”? Well, yesterday there really was a blue moon (four full moons instead of three during this quarter of the year) and one of those ‘once in a blue moon’ things really has occurred…..

I have been awarded a white sash in Kung Fu!

Wheeeeeee!

Kung Fu white sash

Although I have been considered a bit special for a while as I’ve found it really hard to think fast after the controlled Tai Chi forms, I am hoping that if I slowly practice the moves during physio’ time that I may continue to improve.

It makes no difference to my condition other than a different type of physio’, and it makes little difference to my disability except that I am experiencing a bit more fallout pain-wise (but that’s for me to deal with, my inability to function the rest of the day is no different to usual in practical terms). It does, however, make me feel less vulnerable, allows me to feel more confident, to meet more people, to add to my Tai Chi with greater knowledge of how the moves are used in applications, to feel proud of trying something new and (hopefully 😉 ) progressing, to give me new goals to work towards, to share something martial arty with my boyfriend (because his Kickboxing classes are for crazily fit people only!). It is adding value to me and my life and that’s what is important. I also have a background hope that it will help to build a little muscle to reduce the partial dislocations, too (<crosses fingers>)!

I am very happy to have earned this sash. If I didn’t know better I would think they were being kind to me, but I do know better – they make sure that everyone is up to standard and then some. So I guess I must’ve actually earned that sash. I wonder if I can earn the next one? It might take me a while…. there isn’t another ‘blue moon’ until 2015! 😉

x

Oh yes, and on other news…. I’m on the Tai Chi team for the club. Bring on next year’s nationals! Who says a chronically ill disabled girl can’t compete for four minutes at a time and win some medals?! hehe 😀