I walk up and down a flight of stairs at about the same clip as my 94-year-old grandmother. It’s kind of pitiful.
One of my knees has no cartilage, and the other is almost at zero. Both have been operated on – the right one four times, and both are severely arthritic.
I’ve been prescribed a knee brace that I don’t wear nearly as often as I’m supposed to. And I’m in pain to some degree at virtually all times. In fact, the first sensation of my day is pain. That’s on any day.
I could use many more brush strokes painting the picture of what it’s like to hobble around in my forty-something-year-old body. But I think I’ve hit the highlights pretty well. Except….
Here’s the kicker (no pun intended): I probably could have slowed the extensive degeneration of my joints; I could also relieve, if not eliminate, my daily pain, without over-the-counter or under-the-table assistance of any kind. When factoring in this additional information, my physical status could legitimately be considered crazy. And, I guess, so could I.
So be it. I’m nuts. I’ll own it. No arm twisting necessary.
So why don’t I help myself? Because, quite simply: I LOVE KUNG FU! I love it so much that the phrase itself just randomly pops out of my mouth to whatever family member is nearest at the moment the spirit moves me – often to the teenaged son who loves it as much as I do. It’s such a big part of my life, I frequently have to stop and remind myself that I lived almost forty years without it.
I think about it all day on the days that I train and half the day on the days that I don’t. By the time I finish my morning coffee at the office, I’m calculating how long it will be before I’m warming up and stretching.
Though knee pain in particular never completely leaves me, it subsides to a more tolerable level by the time seven o’clock rolls around. By that point in the evening, I’ve usually kicked and jumped my knees into comfort.
I can’t explain how it works. I’m not sure that I care. I just know that it does. It’s one of the greater ironies of my life: the only time I don’t move like I’m crippled is when I’m doing the thing that’s crippling me!
Why do I love something so much that hurts me so badly? That’s what I hope to answer in this blog for the dozens of family members, co-workers, friends and acquaintances who look at me like I need to be committed – and anyone else who’s interested.
Along the way, there will also be the inevitable look at what it’s like to be in constant pursuit of the perfect minute. For that’s exactly what all of us martial arts addicts are looking for – the perfect execution of whatever the day’s assigned performance might be.
It’s compulsive. And for me, it’s crippling.
So… here we go.