Three years ago . . . two days ago.

Has it really been three years?!

Yep. It was three years ago today that I tore my the ACL in my left knee during my exam for 2nd kyup (brown belt).   In my head, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  But looking at my last update more than a year and half ago, I realize how far I’ve come.

The knee is good.

Very good, in fact.  It stands up to everything that I ask of it.  It’s not perfect, mind you.  I have to wear a neoprene wrap that’s similar to those little patellar braces you see so many people wearing these days.  It’s not ideal, but with the wrap on I hardly feel that bursitis that dogged me for so long, even when I practice karate.

And, boy, have I been practicing karate.  Which brings me to . . .

. . . two days ago

I earned my black belt!

It probably shouldn’t have taken three years to get there after the injury.  But the bursitis really dogged me as did the recurring shoulder pain, which can still be a problem.  I had to abandon Bo kata and stay away from any of the work with bokken that my school does because of my shoulders.   But I stuck with it.  I figured out what worked and what didn’t with my knee (and my shoulders, too).  I kept training on it until I started not just to trust the knee but to feel very natural on it.  And then I trained very hard over the past four months, during which time the knee was often the least of my troubles as I gained a collection of bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes everywhere else on my body.

As the big day approached my main worry was being nervous for the test and forgetting parts of my material (which includes being ready to perform 20 one-steps, 20 self-defense throws with some variations, 20 defenses against knife strikes, at least one of 15 single-person kata, and 2 or more of 6 two-person kata).  The knee was never a concern.  And, thankfully, my brain was merciful and allowed me to focus and even really enjoy the entire exam.

So here’s me, my fellow candidates, and our master instructors on test day.

I’m second from the right, looking tired and suddenly relaxed.

I’ll post some more pictures as they turn up.  

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a happy ending to this ACL story and get ready for some real learning about karate.



7 Responses

  1. Yeah! Congratulations on your black belt!

  2. Yeah, way to go man!!!!!!!

    I should actually be posting something soon.

  3. Congraulations on your first Dan! I am a 44 year old mom of two who has been practicing shotokan karate for 3+ years. I am incredibly active and in very, very good shape (2nd kyu).

    Nevertheless I tore y ACL (completely) and medial meniscus skiing last month. Never, ever have i done anything like this before.

    I am now four weeks post op. They were able to repair the meniscus, while reconstructing the ACL (hamstring graft). I am not in much pain really and can walk/limp pretty well. I was never given a brace, just told not to full weight bear beyond 30 degrees while meniscus repair heals. Sometimes it feels tight/awkward but not really painful.

    After 6 weeks I will be able to pursue full on ACL rehab (beyond the PT I do at home now — currently quad and hamstring strengthening). I am determined to get my first Dan — I will not let this get to me, though it is difficult at times. I want to know that this is possible — any hints that might help? I figure if you have the stomach for training in the dojo you can’t let this type of injury define you.

    • R, how’s it going for you?

      • Hi, now it’s 8 months in and it’s going good and bad. I have been incredibly good at maintaining physio schedule — lots of strengthening, change of direction stuff, etc. Have recently encountered setback however. I have been trying to run more than a few minutes at a time since September. While the ACL and repair seem fine (some pain but tolerable) I have experienced a series of ancillary injuries that have slowed my progress down a lot. I have been having bad hip flexor pain for about two months now — treating through stretching, some rest, additional attention from physio and osteopath — some progress but not enough really.

        It’s like the ‘new knee’ has caused some sort of misalignment that is now affecting the whole leg. I don’t think the knee itself is ‘misaligned’ per se, but for some reason as I am adjusting to the new knee the rest of the leg is suffering.

        I have done an informal assessment of my running (video) and the osteo says the left side of the pelvis is lower than right (surgery on left side), left shoulder also dips, and and my knee is medial in the stance phase – and I am throwing my right leg out when I move forward to compensate. So I presume much of this was this actually there before the surgery — but the injury and surgery have now brought it all to the fore. It’s frustrating to say the least — how do you get past it?

  4. R,

    How are things a year later? I’ve never been much of a runner, so I haven’t had problems from that. It may be that some of my shoulder pain has been caused by an imbalance in how my knee has changed. But PT for the shoulder seems to have done the trick for me. I still have some pain in my pes anserine bursa. Interestingly my ACL leg is stil more flexible after the surgery than it was before e injury. More proof of how big an effect the surgery can have.

  5. I somehow found your blog. Thank you. I am a 50 year old brown belt in shotokan karate. Blew my knee in April of this year and was lucky to have surgery on June 9. I am about 7 weeks post op and doing quite well. Had a hamstring graft, meniscus repair, LCL repair and a piece of floating boat removed. This was from throwing a round house kick and my stable base knee turned inward while pivoting. I am so frustrated sometimes although I am healing well. I certainly appreciate your blog, makes me realize I need to be extremely patient. I am itching to get back to class( did 5 a week pre injury) but I know it is not a bright thing to do… Ugh didn’t think this thing would be so hard to kick… No pun intended lol

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