Monday, June 25, 2007

How much of the pain is real?

The 'old guard' (those kf brothers who started around the same time or before me) has seemingly began to disappear from training. My brothers are stopping/ taking time off/ moving out of town/ busy in their personal lives/ busy in their professional lives... and so many other reasons. I am wondering if one of the reasons is standing out more and more. Is it that we are hitting a mental barrier? All of us that train know that we must "stretch our bodies and stretch our minds." Each day at training we do our best to contort our bodies in ways we never imagined and with that contortion comes discomfort, pain and sometimes injury.

One part of 'training harder' for anything we do in our kf life and out... is persist. We all have good days and bad days. Days when it is easier to motivate to get to the temple. Days when it is easier to train harder. What happens when motivation continues to go from poor to non-existent? Recently I have found that training has included a significant amount of pain (turf toe, pulled hamstring, etc.) Training is always a challenge and becomes even more of a challenge when your thoughts before class are...'I am in pain now maybe I could use some more time to heal'.

When I first started training I pulled both of my hamstrings. The backs of my legs were black and blue for weeks. I asked shifu about it and he said "it is natural keep training". I was super motivated at the time and continued to train. He was right it is possible to train through the pain. The mind was able to overcome the body. For those of us who have been training for a while we have become much more familiar with our bodies. We have a fairly clear understanding of what is pain and what is an injury. What happens if you get stuck in the 'time to heal' rut? How much of it is mental and how much is only pain?

Training has shown me that muscle pains come and go. When I have a serious injury then it is advisable to take time off. For myself when it is hard to motivate to get to the temple, I have had to take a step back and ask how much of the pain is mental. How many people talk themselves out of training because of the 'pain'?

It is my hope that most people that no longer train did not stop coming because of mental barriers, but have gone beyond so many barriers that train harder pervades their lives. I still have so much to learn that all I can do is 'train harder'.


  1. I've seen alot of faces come in go in my short time as well. I do not mind this so much. For some it just isnt for them. Maybe they go to train elsewhere and learn new and different things. Thats good for them.

    Maybe some just don't like the temple and leave. Have to respect them for their opinion too.

    recently I've got to thinking about this very thing though. If you really think about it the temple has been around for over a decade. Where are the original students now? Seems like of all the people that have ever trained there 99% no longer do.

    We can say pain in is the mind all we want and More Chi Train harder until the cows come home. Truth is if someone is honestly in pain or has some kind of injury that must be recognized. Thats why I still have respect for all those that take long breaks, leave to train elsewhere, or simply stop training all together. I've seen a bit of attitude from some of our senior members regarding this topic and I find that very out of place with the notion of compassion.

    Thats all from me for now.


  2. until someone knows what they are capable of (enduring) then they cannot know for sure whether the injuries felt at or from training is something they can overcome. it helps so much to talk to one another because then we can learn that the pain is natural & not indicative of a larger issue. i know for me, i am so used to the aches & rather relish it sometimes in the same places but when a new one comes along i have to give pause. i certainly don't want to exacerbate something like joint pain. if sifu were more approachable perhaps folks would feel more confident that pain will not cause further injuries.

  3. Your right I suppose. Though I still think the person that knows you best is yourself. If you think your in pain and can't do more then you should listen to that. Regardless of what someone else says, including Shifu.

    He can also be hard to talk to. I remember when I first signed up I asked him if my lack of flexibility would be a problem. He just said "No Problem" while walking away. He really didn't even stop to talk.

  4. I have to agree with Niederwelt here. We really should not ignore injuries and pains if they are serious. Even muscle pain. There is a difference between being sore and pulling muscles. Sure you could fight through the pain but what would you really accomplish? That you can do caijiao for 20 days instead of 10 days. Does it really matter. I think people should be more accepting of their injuries and say look, this is not a race. If my knee says no today, then maybe tomorrow it will say yes.

    I have suffered emensely from a knee injury that I haven't be able to fully recover from. I used to go to class and continue to worsen my knee problem because I thought I could fight through the pain. Now that I have left the temple, I think how stupid I was for doing this. What would I have really accomplished that one week I took off to heal. Would I be able to do a aerial within that week. No? I would be limping around in pain not really doing any move at 100%.... Some how people think that being injured means being lazy... A sick child does not go to school because he/she is lazy, it is because he/she is not well... I think any parent who forces their kid to go to school when they are sick is negligent...

    I am not sure when you, Quan Tou, came to the temple. I am not sure if we are in the same generation. I think for me, when you become more involved in the school, see more of what is going on, you can make a better estimate of what you want to do there in the future. After I went to level 2, I realize that I could accomplish much more elsewhere. I know the value of my time and ability, and it did not match with that at the temple. Sometimes you have to question yourself, how come I am not getting any better at this. Is it because I am not doing it right, or is it because someone is not telling me how to do it correctly? After I came to terms with this, I knew it was time for me to leave. Perhaps others feel the same way and want to pursue other challenges in life. Just as sifu says, "Time is money... money is time..." I just didn't want to waste the money or the time anymore.....

    Sorry for the somewhat sad story.....


  5. Iguanadon- 99% of people are no longer there because that is how it should be. Life is not fixed and neither should we fix our feet as well. Someday we must all leave. That is only inevitable.

    Niederwelt- I agree, talking with each other is one of the best ways to know how much pain others are going through and how they are handling it.

    KFW- How could you once make progress and then cease? Why look to others for answers and not look to yourself. Shifu's short quips have more perspective that you might have understood. It is all based on each individuals experiences and expectations.

    Do you know what it takes to become an Olypmic althete? How could we know what it takes to become a Shaolin Master?

  6. It definitely helps to talk to people if you are sore in a way you've never felt. If you haven't ever trained a sport in the way that you train kung fu the initial soremness could be intimidating and you might misinterpret the soreness for an injury. Sometimes it is something that you will find everyone goes through when learning X move, and so you can better judge if it is a soreness you can work through or an injury that needs healing time.

    I don't think anyone is lazy for letting their bodies or minds rest and heal. But sometimes people let a sore pain psych them out when training through it would actually ease the tension, stiffness or whatever. Like neiderwelt, I enjoy being sore because it reminds me that I've worked out my body and it inspires me to work it more until that particular soreness is gone.

    For pain, my rule of thumb is that if it's something that goes away after training for thirty minutes, I'm fine. If it is a pain that hurts me through the whole class, then I should probably give my hips/knees/back a break for a few days. I have a history of pushing myself too hard in sports and so try to respect my body when it tells me to ease up. A permanent injury that prevents me training kung fu isn't worth a day of misplaced pride.

  7. Olympic athletes are made through 6-8 hours training 6 days a week with the best teachers in the world. Helps to have the genetic foundation too.

    I'm gonna go out on a limb here but I don't think Carly pattersons coach would have her training while injured. I doubt highly that Uri Van gelders coach taught him the rings through quick one liners like More Chi, Train harder or no Problem just try. I can see that conversation happening. "Coach how do I perform a full in full out stretched on floor?" "No problem just try"

    I actually though Kung Fu had a nice post. This person felt he/she could do better elsewhere so elft. Whats the problem. You just said everyone eventually leaves and thats a good thing. So why give Kung Fu grief for leaving when he/she did.

    So, in closing I do actually know what it takes to be an olympic athlete. I'm learning more and more each day what it takes to be a shaolin master too.

  8. Life happens and people have to leave: jobs change, marriage, children, school, you name it.

    Some people, like KFW, feel they've gone as far/gotten what they wanted out of training and they leave. Just as you should know when your body is needs a break, you should know when you are ready to move on.

    Some people want to stay and can't, but no one should stay if they don't want to.

    I think quantou's original point was that it's amazing what your body can do if you don't let your mind get the best of you, and consequently, that we should hope that people don't leave because they think they are incapable in some way. Since we are not in fact training for the Olympics there is no time frame in which we need to get to a certain level. Some days are about learning moves, some are about training your mind.

    Some people prefer direct instruction, and if you are trying to become a master of martial arts then that is definitely the way to go. Since training at the USAST is as much about learning the philosophy as the forms, sometimes the lessons/instructions are not as straighforward as one would like. Training is about celebrating your life, and however you choose to do it, whether at the temple or not, you should be enjoying yourself.

  9. I am a bit confused on what your question is. You said, "How could you once make progress and then cease? Why look to others for answers and not look to yourself." I think this is very possible to progress and then reach a point where you cannot go anymore and have to find other means to gain more knowledge. For example, you do not expect to be in 1st grade forever. After you learn addition and subtraction, you learn multiplication and division, and then you learn algebra and calculus. How do you this, you graduate to different grades. A child will not know how to do calculus but sitting alone by himself pondering about it. You learn calculus from teachers, not from just 1st grade teachers, from high school teachers and professors. Someone who can take your knowledge further than your grade school teacher. Sure your first grade teacher taught you a lot about the basics but sometimes she/he cannot teach your about calculus. Right now perhaps in the temple you are still learning your basics. And thats great. I just didn't want to learn it anymore. And I wanted to learn from a professor who could really analyze the situation and see the broader scope of kung fu. Someone who could fill in the detail of what numbers are the way they are rather than here is a two and here is a three. It's like when you go to college you realize... oh all that stuff I learnt in high school was just a vast overview of what is really there....

    I do not know much about being a Shaolin monk or an olympian. Both which I do not want to be. Although, in gymnastics, children are selected out of the class for showing great potential. They are then brought to a special center where there potential can be taken to new heights. Just like how the olympic gymnastic team after they are selected are brought to a special camp and trained by a one master coach, like Bela Karolyi. This also exemplifies how important it is to train yourself to new heights so that you could win a gold medal. I do not think Bela Karolyi tells his girls to train harder, I think he tells them the details of the movements how to make the movements perfect. And what is even better is that he probably gives them each a lot of one on one attention which will really allows someone to excel further.

    I would just have to say to continue on watching and looking at more Shaolin and really see what is out there. Watch videos on youtube and read more books. USA Shaolin Temple is NOT the Shaolin Temple and Shi Yan Ming is NOT a "Shaolin Monk". He was once one and abide by the rules but now he is a "new" kind of Shaolin Monk. Also don't expect yourself to look like the Shaolin Temple Spectacular all the time. Those people don't look like that all the time nor do they practice like that all the time. Those are called performances..... Also the videos and docmentaries you see are also "PERFORMANCES"...

    =)... If you want to debate about this more you can feel free to e-mail me. I know this not the place to argue so I have left my e-mail in a post earlier... thanks!

  10. I haven't been training for almost a month now from a knee injury. This post pointed out how pain stopped some people from training. I want to propose an opposite view.

    Not training can be as painful.

    I didn't realize until recently how much going to the temple has become such an important part of my life and how much my temple friends mean to me.

    2 nights on weekdays and once on Sunday doesn't sound a lot.

    But when that's not in my schedule anymore, I feel a lot has been missing from my life. All of the sudden, I have all this time. I tried filling it with other (lower impact) activities - lots of fun. But I still count the days until I can go back training. Kicking - doing forms - and learning new things. There have been so many posts in this blog pointed out how training relieves - fulfills - inspires - etc. That's what I'm missing very much.

    But training has also taught me to understand and take care of myself. This is exactly what I am doing.

  11. I don't know about you all but I actually have a life outside of temple. Friends and loved ones I spend my time with. If for some reason I couldn't train there for an extended period of time I would have plenty of social inter-action to keep me entertained.

    Are you saying your entire, or at least the vast majority, of your social life is the temple? if so what happens when you end up leaving? It was already mentioned by Quan Tou that we all will in the future eventually anyways.

  12. do you really have a life?

    didn't feel like it since you frequent this blog so much...

  13. ahahaha...iguanadon, you're so...funny is the word i'll use. you have your life outside of temple, as do we. but for someone who supposedly has a life outside of temple, you're spending an awful lot of time posting comments to this thread.

    iguanadon, who are you? really? you have ducked my inquiries before, and now i'm asking you point blank, who are you? i've met a lot of interesting people at temple, and boy, lemme just say your energy is not really working for me here.

  14. No need to get so touchy. I was asking a serious question. We are supposed to be family. Shaolin BROTHERS and SISTERS. You're not making me feel like family here.

    p.s. I've posted here only a few times really. Arn't you one of the founding members?

  15. wow, you're fast.

    you're right, we are a family, and i'm finding you, my brother or sister, terribly annoying right now. you may think you're asking serious questions, but your tone implies a lack of respect. you may need to reconsider how you choose to question things. questioning in a thoughtful manner can be useful; questioning without thought is purposeless.

    and once again, you've failed to answer who you are.

    founding member? of what? of this blog? i guess so...but that also means i along with my blog mates, get to choose what does or doesn't get published.

    yeah, this is really not working....

  16. Wow you know I totally forgot about that Q. Sorry about that. I really only train in the morning classes on weekdays.

    Name is Shawn.

    Sorry for all the posts. Was staying in tonight and just kinda got sucked up into it. I'll stop posting now. If you don't "like my energy" I'll just stop posting here all together. Take it easy everyone


  17. amituofo, shawn.

    the iguanadon mystery is solved.

    hope to meet you face to face some day soon.

    when that happens, perhaps you will understand better that we've created this blog out of a love and respect for each other in our community. it is not meant to be a forum for disputes.

    and whenever you do meet us, you'll see that we are the most inclusive of people, and we have a great affinity for each other.

    as a moderator/founder/whatever you wanna call it, i am particularly protective of this blog. i am especially sensitive against any personal attacks against any individual.

    perhaps you meant some of your comments in gest, but since none of us knows you, can you really expect us to understand what you mean? read your comments again, and maybe you'll understand the touchiness more than one of us has felt.


  18. Wow this post is super super long. Sorry to see you guys fighting... I dunno who Iguanadon is or really any of you guys. I went to the school before you guys so that puts me out of loop.

    Anyway, some of Iguanadon's post were interesting. I think me and iguanadon and the annoymous person are the only people who write opposing thoughts to these entries. Probably I can see that being super annoying, but hopefully this site last long or stores on the WWW long enough and you will understand and read back and say hey, half the stuff they said did make some sense. I found some old Shaolinwolf post that were somewhat "controversial" and critical about the temple. Didn't understand it then but now I understand and see what they are talking about. Maybe one day you guys will look back and see what I am talking about just like how old temple folk left their cave markings for me to find.


  19. Wow, I took a long walk home and the world exploded in two hours! :) Seriouly, though, reading the whole thread through it seems like people are just misinterpreting what other people mean (tone is hard to discern on a blog) and so things are coming off agressive/disrespectful that maybe weren't meant that way. I don't think anyone is trying to be deliberately disrespectful, and I think we can all agree that we all like kung fu/martial arts in some capacity or we wouldn't bother with the blog at all. Here's my two cents:

    USAST is a wonerful place to learn. Maybe it isn't for everyone, but you have to respect that even if it isn't a "temple" it holds a high importance to some people. People like Sucheela and myself feel pained when we can't be there. Does that mean we don't have jobs, families other hobbies? No. Of course not. But the temple is also family and so it's perfectly reasonable to have a strong attachment to the people and the place. Just as people do for their sports teams, a close group of friends, or a career that they love and pursue with others.

    Some people don't feel quite that way about the temple, which doesn't mean they shouldn't train there. Some people want to do it as a hobby, some want to have the social interaction, some feel the overall philosophy is important for them in approaching their lives. There's definitely room for everyone. What there is not room for is people who want to attack the temple, sifu, the students or the way in which someone approaches training. I honestly believe that isn't the purpose of anyone who has been posting here and I don't believe I or any of the other members of the blog wants to make anyone feel unwelcome.

    One of my favorite things about the temple is that I never felt excluded from any group. There are of course people who have close friends, or couples who are dating, but I've never felt that anyone was trying to make me feel inferior because I knew less, or not let me join in with the comraderie. Maybe I'm just lucky in that respect, but I'm especially aware of those kinds of things. and I've never felt it here. Which is why I feel very protective when unpleasantness arises.

    KFW, I'm sorry that the temple ended up not working for you, but I hope it at least helped provide those ABCs you were looking for on your way to reading the Shakespeare of martial arts etc. Iguanadon, I hope you keep trainning and don't feel you can't post when you have an honest and respectful question, thought, or contribution. Even if we disagree on some point there's no reason we can't have a mature and unescalated convo about it. I'm only a newbie contributor and not a founder of the blog, but I do enjoy it and want other people to be able to have fun without worrying that a post will start a ruckus, as we say in GA. Amituofo, all!

    P.S. Shawn, when did you start training? I think I might have met you before I switched to night classes.

  20. Wow this is long ... I really like Sucheela's opposite view "Not training can be as painful"