A promising start

My first “official” class back at karate with no limitations was essentially Niage (Naihanchi/Tekki) Night for me.   My highest is Niage 3, of which learned half (the upper half) while still in recovery.  My job was to learn  the footwork and start integrating it with my handwork. The good news is that knee seems to hold up quite well to moving repeatedly in and out of horse stance (thankfully there’s almost no pivoting in these katas).  

The not so good news — and I’ve faced this problem before — is that it’s not so easy to reverse engineer (so to speak) a kata or technique once you’ve learned to do it a certain way.  In this particular case, I had trouble pausing techniques and timing my breath when making lateral transitions, because, for me,  the handwork was just one big series that I could break up as I saw fit.  Once the footwork was added, the different series became clear; I just couldn’t get myself to do them without some of them blending together.  And, of course, we all know how catching yourself screwing up just throws you off more. 

I also found that I’d typically forgotten a couple of techniques in my other advanced kata.  I thought I’d remembered the katas pretty clearly.  So much for my memory.  Most often, what I was missing would come back quickly when pointed out, but in one or two cases I had almost no memory of learning them.   Shows what seven and half months off can do to someone at my level.

Getting back to the knee, the only time I felt any pain was during some of stretches that I hadn’t done for a while.  I laid off when it didn’t feel good.   I had on my soft brace with the donut pad around the patella, which helped immensely with kneeling but also dulled my connection to my knee and left me constant unease about its status.  Yet, when I took the brace off at the end of class, everything looked fine.  I iced the knee and took some ibuprophen, and it’s felt quite good since.   

Crossing fingers and knocking on wood, it was a good start.

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Clearance!

It’s official.  On October 9, I got clearance from the surgeon to “return to sport.”

And I have. Sort of.

You see, I haven’t actually been to back to a karate class since seeing the surgeon. But I haven’t been neglecting my practice, either. During my regular visits to the gym, I’ve been doing some stance and movement work, a few kicks, and yesterday I went through all (or nearly all) of my non-partner kata.

The knee is holding up pretty dang well. Some of the muscles around the knee let me know about it later (even now, I’m still icing it regularly), but while I’m warmed up it feels reassuringly strong. I won’t say that I haven’t lost a step. I definitely have. But that’s not really a bad thing for me. I’ve needed to slow down, I think.  I now have the excuse I needed to get myself to go slow. So far, I find that I’m enjoying feeling things out and noticing what feels right.

Last appointment

My last appointment was fairly uneventful. The surgeon asked me a few questions, lightly examined the injured knee, tested both knees with the arthrometer, and, after determining they have the same play, pronounced me able to start back at karate. He doesn’t see why I should avoid any pivoting motions, nor did he recommend using a brace. And based on how things have gone so far, I’ll probably only wear my old soft brace for compression and leave off the supports.

While I was there I asked him about my shoulder. He did a couple of physical tests, stated that I probably made my rotator cuff “angry,” and gave me a cortisone shot. It feels so much better, but for the next six weeks I have to refrain from doing any heavy lifting over my head.

Next class

My next class is this coming Tuesday. I’ll not miss it, and I’ll report on how it went afterwards.

In the meantime, I’m lifting weights for my knee and shoulder, doing some balance work, and grooving on the bongo board whenever I can.