Get proactive in your recovery from martial arts injuries! Learn how phrase such as "restricted activity," "surgery" and "therapy" don't necessarily mean your martial arts journey is drawing to a close.

Sidelined. Restricted activity. Surgery. Therapy. Those words have the power to drag down the spirits of any martial artist. When you’ve been taken out of your game by sickness or injury, you discover a whole new team of opponents standing between you and your rapid return to training and competition. And the longer it takes to get back in the game, the more prone you are to experiencing injury-related depression. Depression, that energy-sapping, happiness-stealing frame of mind, is almost certain to visit any athlete who’s been sidelined because of injury. And it will kick you while you’re down. So be prepared to fight back should you find it attacking you. Depression During Martial Athletic Injuries Here are a few reasons injured athletes fall prey to depression:
  • The injury itself: The knowledge that you’re injured is enough to darken your mood.
  • Pain: The chronic pain that accompanies many injuries can wear down your attitude.
  • Months of hard work down the tubes: Inactivity brings atrophy, causing hard-fought gains in physical ability and skill to disappear.

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  • Time: The period needed to recover and return to your former levels can be overwhelming if it stretches to months or even years.
  • Missed opportunities: The goals you’ve set for yourself in competition or personal achievement are suddenly out of reach.
  • Endorphin withdrawal: Your regular workouts have provided you with natural mood-elevating chemicals. Being injured means no workout, and no workout means no endorphins.
Fight Back From Your Martial Athletic Injuries! But enough of the bad news. It’s more beneficial to discuss ways to defeat depression, recover from your martial athletic injuries and get back into training. Here’s how to start:
  • Don’t deny — identify: If you ignore your martial athletic injuries, they won’t go away. And if you’re not impervious to injury, then neither are you immune to depression. You can’t deal with it until you recognize and acknowledge it.
  • Don’t quit: An injured athlete is still an athlete and should act accordingly. You didn’t quit when the workouts got hard, and you won’t quit when your athletic career faces the unexpected challenges that martial athletic injuries and depression present.
  • Take responsibility for your athletic injuries and your response to them: It’s your body, mind, career and injury. You must take responsibility for your healing, and that includes your attitude. Medical professionals have their roles to play, but ultimately the responsibility for health and healing lies with you.
  • Be proactive in your recovery from martial athletic injuries: Regaining a sense of control is mentally therapeutic, so instead of passively waiting for your body to heal, get involved and develop a plan of action.

Form a Plan to Recover From Your Martial Athletic Injuries A blueprint for healing will help you focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t do. It’ll help you direct your energies toward achieving as quick a recovery as possible. Just having a plan will go a long way toward lifting the weight of injury-related depression. Your blueprint should include the following actions: Redefine Your Goals for Recovery From Martial Athletic Injuries Most martial artists are goal oriented and have used that characteristic to reach their current level of health, rank or competition. You should tap into that same power to speed your healing. Set new goals for yourself such as consistently attending rehab or therapy sessions as directed by your doctor. Get Smart! If you’re going to become proactive during the process of healing from your martial athletic injuries, you’ll need to arm yourself with all the information you can get. Study your injury and the schools of thought surrounding it. Learn the treatment options available. Discover which medical professionals in your area specialize in your type of injury. Find out what your body requires to heal and do all you can to provide it. Work Around the Injury Not all martial athletic injuries require bed rest, so ask your doctor what you can and cannot do. Questions about your martial athletic injuries might include the following:
  • If your shoulder is jacked up, can you get in a lower-body workout?
  • If your knee is torqued, can you work your upper body?
  • How can you train around your injury, allowing it the inactivity it needs to heal while still working your uninjured parts?
  • Can you swim or ride a stationary bike?
  • Can you work your abs?
  • What about developing flexibility?
There is much to be said for creative cross-training and the benefits it will bring. You may find that a return to working out, regardless of how strenuous or unconventional it is, creates a new sense of mission, a hedge against atrophy, a productive and positive use of time, and those wonderful endorphins that will elevate your mood. Understand that the regimen of therapy devised by a medical professional is one thing and a workout that allows you to train around your injury is quite another. It’s important to separate them so you can set medically sound goals for the rehab and the training. Continued in "How to Overcome Martial Athletic Injuries (Part 2)." About the Authors: Danny Dring — owner/operator of Living Defense Martial Arts and a seventh-degree black belt who holds dan ranking in five martial arts — and Johnny D. Taylor — a second-degree black belt under Dring — are co-authors of the book Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete's Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury. Over the course of their martial arts careers, they’ve faced overwhelming odds to recover, maintain and live out the high expectations of a modern-day athlete. Stay in the Fight: A Martial Athlete’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Injury is their big-picture guide to martial artists and athletes who are facing or have faced those daunting obstacles, offering a holistic discussion on how to achieve and maintain optimal wellness through a variety of mental, physical and emotional means.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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