You may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament in the first place. Take a look at this post (“POP! Goes My ACL”) for the detailed story of how I injured myself and what followed in the immediate aftermath.
The short version is I tore my ACL doing a jump kick, and not even a good one at that.
During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt how we practice martial arts. Whether you are attending online classes or training on your own, you’ll benefit from a space that has what you need to practice, perform, and most of all, enjoy your chosen marital art. Setting up the right studio at home is something you can benefit from for years to come.
Guest writer Emma Grace Brownshares some great resources for setting up your optimal home martial arts studio. Emma writes about life, work, health, and beauty on her site emmagracebrown.com. Check out her site for tips to improve both your physical and emotional health.
[Note: this post contains some vague-as-I-could-make-them spoilers]
Like many other martial arts enthusiasts and children of the 1980s, I was very excited to spend the final weekend of August bingeing both seasons of the breakout hit series “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. A friend, who is also a fellow taekwondo black belt, and I had watched the first season together when it debuted on YouTube Red in 2018. We loved it and marveled at how clever and heartfelt it was.
Much has changed in two years, both on a national and global scale, and also for me personally. I knew I’d be entertained by watching the series, but I didn’t realize how deeply therapeutic it would be.
A month and two days following my ACL reconstruction surgery, I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. Two weeks earlier I’d seen one of his assistants to have my sutures and bandages removed and to get a play-by-play, complete with three pages of color photos, of the surgery.
I was hoping for some good news after a month of hard work at home and in physical therapy. I’d been cranky and depressed for the past week because a nasty case of topical dermatitis flared up around my incisions. The incisions themselves are fine, but the skin around it was red, itchy, and full of little bumps that give my skin the appearance and feel of a very tightly inflated (i.e., one Tom Brady might allegedly avoid) football.
To my surprise, my physical therapist casually mentioned that I should start doing slow-motion forms to work on balance and transferring weight back and forth on my legs. I’m nearly three weeks post-op from ACL reconstruction surgery, and, if I’m careful, I can move around the house with just my leg brace. I was excited about the prospect.
I’ve done forms as mental therapy. I’ve never done them as physical therapy, so this will be a new recovery/martial arts adventure for me.
According to WordPress, I started this draft at 12:16 PM on July 9, 2020. My original plan for this post was to recount how I was several weeks into longer, more intense taekwondo training back at the dojang after doing thirty-minute home workouts for two months in quarantine, the differences among the two types of training, and what it revealed to me about my stamina, strength, and skill.
My original plan also included describing in detail the invigorating, intense, difficult class I took on my forty-first birthday. I was going to talk about how strong I felt and yet how far I had to go. I was going to say I wished I had the bikini body and sparring stamina I had in February and how I’d have to spend months getting it back. Here’s a little excerpt: “I was kicking so hard I swear my BLADDER hurt. I sucked in shaky, audible gasps. I was nearly in tears from the tax on my body, and I don’t cry in taekwondo.”
But this is 2020, and nothing this year is as it seems. The night of July 9, I tore my ACL.
It turns out that martial arts spirit of perseverance and jocky stubbornness to give up has quite come in handy over the last few days. I am four days into recovery from ACL surgery, and recovery has been a full-time job. Let’s go back a few days…
In my last post, I described my worst taekwondo injury to date and following tests and decisions I made with my doctor. We agreed on an ACL repair slated for July 22 at 7 am.
Although my dojang has officially opened, they’re still offering thirty minute virtual classes throughout the week. Saturday morning I did a virtual black belt class in my home. After some warm-ups and a few forms (although I had much less space, Keumgang felt better in bare feet than in those damn taekwondo shoes), my instructor said we were going to work on kicking. Okay cool.
Great, fine, I like jump kicks. I’ve done plenty of them.