I tried to lay off my wounded arm Monday night; I really did. But I discovered something pretty obvious about kung fu that hadn’t occurred to me before: everything requires the hands and arms. I thought that as long as I didn’t do any weapons forms, I’d be good to go. Let the healing begin. But freehand forms have big circular arm movements that irritate the tendons in my shoulder, too. I’ve dedicated so much head space over the years to the performance and protection of my knees that I haven’t given my arms nearly the respect that they deserve for all they’ve contributed to my martial arts success, irrespective of my work with weapons. It’s clear as day when I’m sparring but completely subconscious otherwise. Go figure.
I thought about doing the black sash freehand form without the parts that would heavily involve my right arm socket, but I quickly dispensed with that idea. Turns out it would have meant leaving out everything from right after the opening empty stance through the beginning of the kicking combination. About a third of the form. I could have made it through from kicking combo to tornado kick, but after that – forget it. Arms have to fly and circle and slam and double punch and turn into cranes, etc. So I just did the damned thing and told myself it was much better for my arm than doing staff. By the third repetition of Lian Huan Tui, I realized that was nonsense. There wasn’t as much arm power involved, but it was really just a horse of a different color.
So at the end of the night, while stretching my leg muscles on the trusty foam roller that’s done more to keep the legs working than any physical therapy or massage (and significantly reduce the overnight/early morning pain that’s been a staple for a long while now, as well), I wondered if there was any way to transfer that magic to the arm. It was awkward and unattractive trying to roll my upper arm and shoulder on a roller that was on the floor, but a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. Low and behold, the wing is flapping like new – at least for now, and Tuesday’s another day of rest. In fact, I’ll be lying around all day Tuesday after the second of two prescribed shots to the back (a story for tomorrow, I’m sure.)
Ultimately, my most significant obstacle to a complete hiatus for healing is teaching. When instructing beginners, demonstration is a must; the arms have to be used. Case closed. I don’t have to be strong or fast, just reasonably accurate. So the bare minimum is what they’re going to have to get for a while. But that’s better than nothing – for the students and for me.