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.