Monday, February 25, 2008

Martial Rx

Injuries are part of the martial journey. Does your instructor know what to do when someone gets hurt or knocked out in your school? Most dojo that I've been in didn't even have a first aid kit handy.

At one time martial arts training was taught in conjunction with various versions of osteopathy and holistic medicine. Most of the traditional healing skills were given short shrift when the martial arts made their transition from East to West. That may be too bad, especially in light of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical monstrosity known as the American drug industry. Where else can you find TV commercials imploring the public to "ask your doctor about such-and-such a pill"? It seems the healthcare bureaucrats want everybody to be on something.

Acupuncture, herbal remedies, bone setting (sekkotsu) and resuscitation skills (kappo) were areas of knowledge held by the old-time masters of combat. Through the investigation of physiology, martial artists not only had a better understanding of healing, but also how to disrupt certain areas through atemi (vital strikes). But skeptics question the authenticity of Eastern holistic ways, in particular Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Indeed, the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) claims that of the 46 medical journals published by the Chinese Medical Association, not one is devoted to acupuncture or other TCM practices.

Still, while hurting people is relatively easy, it's healing that requires perhaps a higher calling, whether its through conventional medicine, alternative methods, or a combined approach as proposed by Andrew Weil who has authored several books on his "integrative medicine" theories. But it was Ben Franklin who probably had the best advice of all: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."



Blogger Blackbeltmama said...

Great post John. At my dojo, there's a jiu-jitsu class. In conjunction with learning the points to hurt, they are learning the points to heal in the form of a restorative therapy class. The main guy did some work on me after surgery. In one hour, I went from being unable to bend without pain to being able to fold my body in half with no pain at all.

In Hayes' book, he talks about going to these places post-training for massage therapy and hot baths that would help heal the body from the stresses of the days training. Too bad we don't put more weight into these traditional methods because they certainly seem to help.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

Our karate school was surprisingly good in this area. I think it was because they had a lot of injuries (from not controlling the younger males in the class)and therefore had lots of practice.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

We use a lot of disinfectant for the cuts and bloody noses and lips. Beyond that, injuries are surprisingly rare.

I'm with miss chris, though. Injuries are most often a result of out of control new guys. We call that the spazzing stage that most go through when they first start to spar against a resisting opponent. :)

3:39 PM  
Blogger somaserious said...

Wonderful post! I have always felt that the two go hand in hand. If you learn how to hurt you must also learn how to heal. As a massage therapist I have an extensive knowledge of muscle/bone relationships and how they can be affected. Some day I would love to learn more about TCM and often go to an acupuncturist myself. Slowly it is coming to the forefront of modern medicine. I feel that the public is discovering just how powerful alternative therapies can be and how they can supplement Western medicine (which has it's place). Hopefully one day the two will go hand in hand.


7:40 PM  
Blogger Mathieu said...

One day, both these things will go hand in hand.

Europe has a headstart on us in this field...

10:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm lucky-- my instructor is a former EMT! :-P So even when I'm not that injured, she knows how to workout with or without and injury, and will tell you what to do-- or not do-- to further the injury. I'm lucky that way.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

At a tournament last November here in Seattle, a kid (early 20's) did what we're always told not to do when we're being taken down, which is to reach back and try to catch himself. And then, the reason WHY we're not supposed to do this happened. He dislocated his shoulder (or worse).

Some guy, one of the coaches/instructors, fancied himself a healer, did some poking and prodding and then yanked on this guy's arm really hard... twice. From the look of his shoulder and the yells of pain, I am convinced that this did even more damage, though I don't know for sure.

I, for one, am very comfortable with the idea that, beyond basic first aid, my martial arts instructor teaches me whatever martial art I'm learning, and if I need healing, I'll go to someone whom I know is well trained.

I understand that this can be the same person, but I'm okay with it if it's two different blokes. :)

12:15 AM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Steve: martial arts instructor teaches me whatever martial art I'm learning, and if I need healing, I'll go to someone whom I know is well trained.

And how do you know they're well trained? There's a reason most MDs pay more into malpractice insurance than you probably make in a year.

In my lineage of Okinawan karate we're schooled in the arts of healing, mind control, tax evasion and breaking out of prison. Obviously you haven't learned these skills in BJJ.

I'm okay with it if it's two different blokes.

Blokes? You're living in England now?

10:37 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Haha. Touche! I think we learn mind control as brown belts, but I can't be sure. I think breaking out of prison is strictly taught to the MMA guys, but that's because they're all thugs. :)

To explain my point, though, there is a big difference between competent and well trained. This is evident in every profession. A practicing doctor in the USA can be reliably counted on to have a certain amount of training, even as his or her individual competence would be gauged on an individual basis. As a result of the training, however, there is a certain amount of credibility.

It becomes more difficult when someone alleges credibility because they're a martial arts instructor. "Hey, I'm a black belt in X martial art, and so am also an authority on holistic medicine."

I hope it's clear that my interest and comments aren't in any way intended to suggest that one way is better than another. I'm really, sincerely, intrigued by the differences and, more importantly, the similarities. I find both remarkable and interesting.

And the bloke thing comes from having many friends whom I talk to mostly in writing. They talk funny and it's like a virus. :)

11:10 PM  

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