Little things mean a lot

Earlier this week I had to get up and perform a couple of katas. Neither went especially well, but that I’m doing them at all is still a wonderful thing. Part of it is being out of practice. Another part is not being used to being up in front of people anymore. And, of course, part of it is that my knee still isn’t perfect.

For awhile I’ve noticed that kicks with my left leg (the injured one) feel funny, like they have no “finish” to them. In contrast, my right -leg kicks feel pretty sharp, even though I’m planting and rotating on the injured leg.

I’d figured that, in most cases, the remaining soreness and swelling in the injured leg was keeping me from snapping into full extension and giving me strong, sharp finishes.

But yesterday, as we were practicing kicks with a bag, a lower belt pointed out to me that I was not turning my left foot forward when initiating my kicks with that leg. Because of this, I was bringing my knee up and around a bit instead of straight up, which was throwing me off balance.

And why was I not turning my foot forward properly? Well, because it doesn’t feel great to do it. It doesn’t exactly hurt, but my leg just kind of balks at doing it. I can override the balk, but it takes some thought and slows the kicks down.

In some ways, it’s a small thing. But it has large consequences. And I think I’ll be facing many such niceties as I get deeper into my return.

Scene of the crime

One quick happy note is that I also went through my self defenses with partners for the first time since hurting myself.

Most of them went pretty poorly for a brown belt. Ironically — and most happily — the best of the night was the very technique I injured my knee doing. I’m still going to be nervous about it, I think. But my first visit to the scene of the crime — my first time back on the horse — went well. And I took the opportunity to celebrate and crow about it immediately afterward.