My right arm feels like it’s going to fall from my shoulder at any minute now. Something inside it has been pulled or sprained for months, but when I first felt it back in October, I thought it was something minor that would repair itself, as most of my bumps and bruises that aren’t knee related all have.
But time for wishful thinking has come and gone. The reality is that every time I practice this form that’s been the center of my kung fu training for a year, I’m exacerbating whatever is wrong with my arm. I know I’m going to have to lay off the long staff form for my arm to appreciably repair itself (notice that I’m assuming it can do that), but that can’t happen this week.
Saturday is a final black sash test for a former sparring partner and all around great guy, and I was told a month ago that I’m doing the long staff form during black sash demonstrations at the break for his test. I’ve declined to do a demo too many times to be let out of it again without my arm being in a sling. Additionally, Sifu’s told me that this demo is a test for me. He’ll be grading my performance. So I don’t have the option of performing badly this Saturday. I don’t have the luxury to be injured.
All of this made tonight’s training frustrating. Ironically, that emotion seemed to serve me well. Two family members volunteered, on different repetitions, that my form looked good. That’s not something they generally say without me asking how I’m doing; so I have to assume it was even better than usual.
Perhaps leaving it all on the floor, in an effort to see just how far I could push it with a weak arm, was exactly what I needed. It reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about since my own black sash testing shortly after a fifth knee surgery: hurt doesn’t have to mean mediocre. It just means working harder than I think the injury will allow to be sure that all my practice shows, even if a hit or two isn’t as hard as it should be.