Black Eyes and Mat Rash

12:16 AM Sunday, October 11, 2009

A band-aidImage via Wikipedia

The other day I stood up off the mat and I knew that I was going to be sporting some bruises from the grabbing and twisting of my gi. The guy I got up off of was looking through a swollen eye, and we both had grins on our faces, because a quick cat and mouse game of ne-waza (ground work) had come to an end.

The next day his eye was a little swollen and my upper arms and chest had some nice purple discolorations and a few scratches. “Macho!,” you scream, “You idiots are doing nothing but macho head butts!” Well, I would have to disagree with your charge. Let me explain the difference. Nobody was hurt, we worked fast and strong, but nobody needed ice, or a wrap, or a doctor for that matter. And that is the difference. None of the minor rashes we had would stop us from competing that weekend - in any sport. Conversely if you are saying, “Yeah I would like to compete but I was training so hard that I separated my shoulder.” Then that is macho and it deserves to be called out.

Look, injuries, accidents, mishaps, happen but training to the point of consistent and constant injury – that is wrong. Does the National Football League train like that? Nope; in fact, I would like you to point to any professional sport that trains recklessly, because they don’t. Money is on the line with the pros and that - is - the - bottom - line. You should be just as smart. A black eye and some mat rash are part of fun training, true injury is not. Know the difference.

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  1. Sounds like a heckoflottafun to me!

    Just get out the jow and warm up the hot is good.

    Shinzen Nelson

  2. Yes it was fun, and good healthy fun. A hot tube has the magical properties of removing all the bones from my body.

    Kris Wilder

  3. Kris:

    I tell my students, no pain/no gain.. is a lie... I will be 58 in a month and been training a long time. Every day in the dojo I start with My back and loosen it up, then I put my knee brace on both knees, Then I loosen up my neck because like my lower back I have arthritis.

    I dont spar much any more but when I do I can only kick you in the head with my right leg, my left wont go that high anymore because of scar tissue on my spine that prevents it. You want me to keep going?????

    30 years ago we trained hard and basiclly beat the crap out of each other,every class. Now I feel every one of those injuries on a cold day.

    10 or 15 years ago I did a kobudo seminar for a group in the Seattle area. One of the participants heckled me because I my back stance was higher on one side than the other, when I explained that I had a bad knee he made a joke about being old. A few months ago the same person was on one of the karate lists talking about how you train when you get old. He is now almost 45 and feeling a bit of age here and there. I explained that proper training and not going full out during practice is key... he remembered the incident and expressed that he was feeling a bit humbled.

    Realizing that the one body you have needs taking care of often does not dawn on folks until it starts to break down. My sensei told me years ago: " Many people start to train in Karate because they want to learn to defend themselves, they soon find out that it doesn't take that long to become efficient in defence and they continue to train for health and interest in the techniques. Later in life we search the techniques and continue to train in order to learn how to get along with others. "

    I found this true.

    Take care...

    Mike O'Leary

    Mike O'Leary

  4. Brilliant Mike, Brilliant

    Kris Wilder

  5. Bumps and bruises come with the territory, but there is the occasional person intent on really hurting other people.
    There is definitely a difference, great point.

    We spar similar to Kyokushin-style, at least my adult students and I do whenever we get together.
    Face shots do happen, but nothing major, we try to go a little lighter, but not so light that it doesn't count.
    I think it is good for confidence and control.
    We throw a bit of sticking/feeling in to make it interesting, lots of cool stuff comes out of that.

    Sounds like you guys did have a lot of fun, would have been cool to partake with you guys, though I'm sure I would have been pummeled. ;)


  6. Good stuff! Appreciate the article and the comments! Totally on the same page with you guys! Training is just that, training. It's a confidence builder and a learning tool. Yes, the bumps and brusies come with the art but not being able to show up for work because of it? A little over the top for me. I can learn just as well by a bruise left on my rib cage to remember to cover up vs. a cracked rib and out of work for the next month!?!
    Thanks again for a great article!


  7. ~Axe
    Thanks for the read, and I am glad you found it...oh helpful. And yeah going to work with a shiner is not the best of form in some cases.

    Kris Wilder

  8. I agree, it's definitely important to have both hard and soft days. Soft for slowly analyzing all the little workings of balance, weight, technique, etc and hard to make sure you can perform when it counts.

    So long as both proponents have excellent control, those little bumps and bruises are very much excusable!

    Very nice post.



  9. This is so hard to explain to non-martial artists. The fact that you can get together with some of your best friends, beat the crap out of each other , and love every minute of it. I used to do some full contact stick fighting and would come into read-off with massive welts on my forearms and an occasional knot on my head. My zone partner looked at me and said "And you do this for fun? What is wrong with you?". I still don't know the answer to that question but I've found that I don't care.


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