I am grateful for the healing power of Kung Fu. Without it, I would probably not be able to type this message, much less practice and teach martial arts. Here is my story.
I suffered my first severe wrist injury after graduating from high school. Bicycling home from work one night, I unexpectedly hit a sinkhole on Aurora Avenue. My front wheel twisted, and my body smashed headlong into the concrete. My radius instantly shattered.
A local surgeon was able to bolt the fragments of my wrist back together again. However, considering the bone damage, and the titanium hardware used to repair it, I was advised not to expect too much from my recovery. Forget about sports and other strenuous activity, the doctor said, and prepare for early arthritis.
I did not accept his grim forecast. Instead, I modified my existing Kung Fu practice to support my rehabilitation. And it worked. Gradually, the swelling went down, and my flexibility returned.
Across the world of martial arts, minor injuries are often viewed as the unavoidable cost of proficiency. They are regarded as proof of one’s dedication, willpower and personal character. In some cases, that may be true. However, we prioritize a different set of ideals in Chinese Kung Fu. We pursue self-cultivation: stretching, strengthening, and understanding our own mind and body.
Five years after my first injury, I faced another crisis. A combination of brutal work hours, bad posture, and a carelessly designed computer workstation resulted in a serious repetitive strain injury to both hands.
The pain advanced over months. At first, I was irritated and sore during routine office tasks. Later on, the pain continued for hours into the evening. Eventually, it became a constant presence, destroying my productivity and attitude, and nearly ending my high-tech career. Meanwhile, my supervisor, a classic ignoramus, would only tell me to “stop karotty chopping boards and get back to work.”
Here again, Kung Fu was an essential part of my return to better health.
Although the term Kung Fu is often misunderstood as a particular style of martial arts, it actually describes a wide range of activities, and their results. Qigong is Kung Fu. Tai Chi is Kung Fu. Even serving tea can be Kung Fu!
I have fully recovered from these injuries. Watching my sword form today, you would probably never suspect that, a few years ago, I was unable to hold and use a pencil.
This story is obviously not intended as medical advice; however, mine is a common experience among dedicated practitioners of martial arts. The legendary founder of Aikido was once dismissed as a hopeless, sickly child. The same is true for Helio Gracie, now regarded as the father of Brazilian Jujitsu, and an inspiration for the UFC. Even Huo Yuanjia–the inspiration for Jet Li’s movie Fearless–was originally considered to weak to fight! And so on…
Who else can heal themselves by learning Kung Fu? Maybe you.