September is self-care and self-improvement month. To perform at our best, martial artists need to take care of themselves in body, mind, and spirit. Emma Grace Brown, a frequent contributor to this site, shares small (but very important) things we can do to make sure our bodies and minds are healthy going into a busy fall and holiday season. If you would like to contribute to Little Black Belt, please review the contributor guidelines here.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health care provider of any kind. These articles are written from the perspective of a patient. Please follow the instructions of your health care provider.
So it happened to you. The infamous “knee blowout” they talk about in sports or dance movies but never show in detail. You felt the pop in your leg and were on the ground before you knew what happened.
You have a torn ACL. Now what?
Congratulations! You’ve now joined the elite club of ACL Warriors.
Out of the vast hellscape of the pandemic came a cry for authenticity–in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our hearts. If you’re a practicing martial artist (or have any kind of hobby, passion, sport, etc.), the power might already be within you. In this month’s article for Martial Journal, I describe how practicing martial arts can help you find your authentic voice.
Part of my ongoing journey to authenticity and emotional growth involves reflection on lessons learned and observing where I was at a specific point in time.
About this time last year I was still in a deep depression, severely hating my job, and feeling irreparably stuck in life. When I found myself sobbing over Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg’s performance at the 2022 Super Bowl, I realized I had sunken into an odd mid-life crisis. Here were people who had pursued what they loved, and decades later, they were still going strong. I mourned the loss of my creativity and my supposed failure at resurrecting it through writing.
I had a great weekend using my reconstructed and rehabbed knee. My partner and I swam in our pool Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Saturday after my first post-op Body Combat class, we walked about half a mile to a local pub to play pool, have drinks, and eat delicious street tacos, and we did strength training on Sunday before our afternoon swim. Unlike this time last summer, I was not recovering from another arthroscopy. I haven’t reached 100% flexion and extension, but I’m so much closer than I was a year ago.
Despite the current state of the world, I’m feeling more relaxed and optimistic about my future than I have in a long time.
I had plenty of moments of feeling pretty bad, but overall I did take the advice I shared in last year’s article. I learned to be patient with my frustration and not get caught in an emotional spiral. I worked on what I could control. I very slowly let go of the need for everything to be perfect and “right.”
The most helpful and yet most infuriating factor: time. I just had to keep doing what I could do to stay sane and get more physically fit and let things work out in time. The deus ex machina I prayed for never came other than a big change at work, and even then, that has required several months of learning and adjusting.
My old therapist Ramona, who is mentioned in my memoir, used to say, “One day at a time…It. Will All. Work. Out.”
So, how to get unstuck? Go back to last year’s article and read the tips. Do what you can, give yourself grace when you can’t, and be patient.
Last Wednesday I found out that I did not place in a book contest I’d entered my memoir in. This came on the heels of a disappointing (and expensive) marketing campaign and seeing a smarmy swath of authors from my publishing cohort bragging (rightfully so, to be fair) on social media about sales, interviews, awards, or other book-selling wins. Their books are good…but g-ddamnit, so is mine. It’s really good.
You guys…for the first time in eight years I forgot to do my anniversary post!
My blog turned eight on April 15, 2022. Since I began my blog I have made new martial arts friends, shared both my triumphs and struggles, and have been able to promote my first book and many media appearances!
I also started writing for the online magazine Martial Journal–you can find links to all my featured articles here.
Thank you all for your support.
As is tradition, here are my ten favorite posts from the past year:
Dear Reader:For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey. Enjoy!
[Note: This event would have occurred between chapters 29 “Sucker Punched” and 30 “Aftermath,” late April 2015.]