Chronic exertional compartment syndrome in martial arts, an update

Four years ago, I woke up in a hospital and when I looked down, I saw this:

I dsitinctly remember thinking “So that’s what it feels like to not constantly be in pain anymore…”

That feeling wasn’t to last as I was still on an IV with pain killers but it was proof of concept: my body was still capable of functioning without pain.

So there was hope.

Hope was an emotion I hadn’t felt for a long time, as I had slowly been becoming a cripple for years. I wrote about that process here: Chronic exertional compartment syndrome in martial arts.

It’s been years since then and I’m still clawing my way back to a full recovery. In an ideal world, I would have taken a year off from working and spent it on full-time rehab. That would have cost a small fortune, which I don’t have. So in this world, I was working on crutches one week after surgery. The joys of being self-employed…

After the surgery, I had a few months of rehab with a physical therapist but that is expensive too so it had to end well before I was recovered. So I kept doing the exercises he showed and never stopped. As my body began re-knitting itself together again, I spent most of each day in a significant amount of pain. Nights were worse, because when I would lie down to sleep, my connective tissue would start working, hard, and keep me up for hours. Sleep-deprivation sucks, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Most of all, the constant pain turned out to be an enormous psychological and emotional war of attrition. I’d go to sleep with pain and wake up with it. Sometimes it would be my back, then my shoulders. My forearms and fingers had become rigid and hard to use, my knees also hurt on and off for inexplicable reasons. But most of all, it hurt to stand on my feet, if only for a minute or two. I had to constantly shift my weight from one leg to the other and contract postural muscles to avoid nerves getting pinched. You can get used to a lot, so that’s what I did.

Fast forward to three weeks ago:

I went to bed and realized I hadn’t really been in pain during the day while standing on my feet.

I still had to manage my posture constantly and it wasn’t comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but there hadn’t been the grinding pain I’ve felt for almost four years. That was a bit of a surprise, so I was happy about it but also prepared for it not to last. Turned out I was wrong; I can now stand without pain, all day. As Borat would say, “Great success!”

 

Why talk about this now?

For a variety of reasons.

  • Over the years, I received lots of requests for follow ups of my instructional videos.  I wouldn’t have been able to do a good job due to all the physical problems I had. Now that I am closing in on being back to normal, I can train better again. This then will allow me to make videos that have me showing things to a standard I can live with. So stay tuned for more in the coming months and years.
  • It is never smart to reveal all your weaknesses and injuries. So I didn’t give all that many details in the past few years and just worked on getting better. Now that most of the big problems have gone away, I’m comfortable discussing things more openly. See the next point.
  • I loathe the macho culture that seems to still be a big part of the martial arts and self-defense community. I know what broken fists and bones and ripped-off muscles feels like; it hurts, a lot. Pretending it doesn’t is stupid. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, but it is a load of crap to go on as if you are made of steel. Because it sets an impossible standard to follow for those who look up to you, whether you want that or not. As a result, they make the same mistakes you made that got you all banged up and they pay the same price. Stupid. Especially if you are in a position to give the advice you would have wanted to give your younger self. So here’s my uncalled for advice for those who are young and at the start of their martial arts journey:

Treat your body well, because it’s the only one you’ll ever get.

It doesn’t un-break if you mess it up beyond repair. Train hard, enjoy that stuff like I did, but let yourself heal from all the injuries you get that way before you resume the hard training. It sucks, I know, but do it anyway. I’m 46 and have mileage on me worth two decades more. It is too late to do anything about that. It’s not too late for you though.

So focus just as much on rest and recovery as you do on training like a maniac.

You’ll be happy you did so when you get older.

Podcast episode 26: Crossover podcast with Iain Abernethy

It was heaps of fun to record this special crossover podcast episode with Karate-expert Iain Abernethy. I had him on my podcast in episode 18 and it was a great interview. Iain suggested the idea of doing something together and I agreed right away. This is the result.

The concept was this: We asked our followers on social media (and me on Patreon too) for questions to ask the other instructor. During the talk, we ask eachother these questions and then discuss them a bit. Iain comes from a mainly Japanese and Okinawan martial arts perspective where mine is mostly from Chinese martial arts. I think there are some interesting comparisons we made about the arts and how to train, along with hearing more from how we each view things.

I very much enjoyed our conversation, I learned a lot and I’m confident you’ll enjoy it as well.

If you’d like us to do this again, let me know in the comments and we’ll set it up.

Enjoy!

Show notes:

1. Differences between Japanese and Chinese forms

2. Views on principle-based training

3. What to be wary of when joining a new gym or martial arts school

4. Advice on strength training and lifting weights

 

Thanks for listening!

Please like, share and leave a review!

Please support the podcast and get access to loads of unique content in return:

https://www.patreon.com/wimdemeere

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Podcast episode 25: How to choose a self-defense class or instructor

This episode is late again for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I have been travelling. That said, I think you’ll like it as it answers a question I get asked all the time: how do I choose a self-defense class or instructor?

In this episode, I list numerous aspects you should take into consideration before making such a choice. The list isn’t complete, but it certainly helps you avoid the biggest problems.

Enjoy!

Show notes:

1. Intro

2. How to choose a self-defense class or instructor

 

Thanks for listening!

Please like, share and leave a review!

Please support the podcast and get access to loads of unique content in return:

https://www.patreon.com/wimdemeere

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Basic Self-Defense Instructional Video

I just released my new instructional video, Basic Self-Defense 1: Controlling Techniques. I explained the system in episode 23 of the podcast and gave lots of details there. The first part of the curriculum is now available.

Check it out:

I’ve been teaching it for over 20 years now and it started as a collaboration between me and another instructor. After a while, we both developed our own versions and went our separate ways. The best way to view it is as a multitool:

It works for the average person in the average violent situation.

The system has two goals:

  • Give you functional self-defense techniques as quickly as possible so you can handle the most common attacks.
  • Give you the best bang for the buck when it comes to the time needed to train the techniques and how soon you can use them effectively.

There are also two assumptions in it:

  1.  You have no prior training so we start from scratch. That means covering lots of basic information. If you do have prior training, Basic Self Defense isn’t meant to replace it; it’s only an addition to it.
  2. There are three common self-defense situations and the system is versatile enough to handle them all.

Because of these two goals and assumptions, there is a specific training method that is powerful and yields results quickly:

  • Only a limited number of movements and techniques. These have to be versatile and recycled depending on context.
  • Rapid ingraining due to the repetition of these same movements and techniques in different situations.
  • Technical progressions. Each movement is used as a stepping stone to the next one.

I’ve had great results with this method throughout the years and am confident you’ll find it practical and effective too. However, you have to follow the progression. When people skip ahead, they run into trouble making the technique work in certain situations. Don’t do that. Follow the program and it will guide you through it.

For this video, I cover a handful of specific attacks that are common in a self-defense situation. This speeds up the learning process and ingrains the key principles and movements much faster. In later videos, I will show other attacks and how to handle them.

Speaking of which, there is a full curriculum and this is only the first module that lays the foundation of the system and focuses on controlling techniques. The other modules teach techniques to neutralize the attacker, variations and how to personalize the system to your specific needs.

I’ll publish those in the coming months.

To launch the video, I’m offering a special discount of 25% off the full price if you buy it before September 1st, 2018.

Just go here and use promo-code 25OFF on checkout.

Podcast episode 24: Interview with Professor Drew Anderson

I’ve been looking forward to it for a while and now I finally got the chance to interview Professor Drew Anderson. He is a Psychology professor but also a Fireman, EMT and much more.

We do a deep dive into PTSD and trauma, how to handle it and build resilience, handling disturbed individuals and much more.

As always, there is a Q&A at the end.

Enjoy!

Professor Drew Anderson

Professor Drew Anderson

Show notes:

1. PTSD, trauma and resilience

2. Handling disturbed individuals

3.Applied Relaxation

4. Q&A

Thanks for listening!

Please like, share and leave a review!

Please support the podcast and get access to loads of unique content in return:

https://www.patreon.com/wimdemeere

Subscribe to the podcast and automatically get the latest episode:

Spotify

iTunes

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