Alive and Kicking #31 – Pain, and a Wake-Up Call

by on April 30, 2012

in Alive and Kicking


Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40


Monday 30 April 2012: Issue #31

Alive and Kicking is published once a week for opted-in subscribers only. If a friend has forwarded this to you, please opt-in at

Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.


Hi there!

Welcome to this week’s Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40.

Wow – who could believe we are almost in May already! Boy the year is flying past quickly. Today, I am going to share with you the first part of Craig Hart’s series of articles about pain, and I just want to touch on the importance of giving your all to your training (and to life in general).



As A Martial Artist Would You Train Through The Pain
by Glen Bowman under CC BY
As A Martial Artist Would You Train Through The Pain?


Recently at our Taekwon-Do organization’s National Camp we had a really interesting presentation on pain from a 4th Dan Taekwon-Do instructor who also happens to be a sports doctor, Dr Jake Pearson. (He also happens to be my sports doctor)

Dr Pearson had some really interesting things to say about pain in his presentation and it certainly caused a few wide eyes around the room. One particular observation really stood out for me. He said that of all the patients that he sees, generally the martial artists are in the worst condition!

But he went on to clarify that this wasn’t necessarily because the martial arts were bad for the body. People injure themselves undertaking all sorts of activities. Any sport or physical activity carries with it the risk of injury. In fact, I once had a boss who managed to tear both calf muscles at the same time while chasing his son up the stairs! So it can happen to anyone.

So why is it that martial artists are showing up in his office with way worse injuries than other sports people? Basically what it boils down to is that often in the martial arts there is an attitude where pain is seen as “normal”, nothing unusual, and in fact as a martial artist you are often expected to just grit your teeth and put up with pain.

It’s not uncommon, particularly at a testing, to see people continuing to push themselves even though they are obviously injured. Sometimes you don’t find out until afterwards that they carried a broken rib or toe or finger during the grading. And I’ve just remembered that one of the guys who graded with me to 1st Dan took his arm out of a plaster cast so he could complete the grading! (He broke it again during the grading)

As older martial artists I think it is important for us to acknowledge that we don’t heal as well as we did in our 20s. Injuries take a longer time to heal, and they may not heal as completely as they would have when we were younger. We need to be sure to understand that pain is our friend … telling us when to STOP!

Also at the camp was one of Martial Arts Over 40’s subscribers and contributors, Craig Hart. I took the opportunity to ask Craig what he was looking to get out of the site, and the first thing he mentioned was pain. We talked about the site for a little bit, but then got busy again with the camp and hardly crossed paths again.

Then out of the blue I got an email from him, asking if he could contribute to the site, and that he was interested in writing a series of articles exploring the subject of pain. I readily accepted his offer, and I am really pleased today to be able to introduce you to the first article in his series on the subject.

Click here to go straight to his first article on Pain and the Over-40 Martial Artist.


One of the things I am trying to get across in this newsletter and on the site is the importance of keeping yourself in good physical condition, in order to be able to avoid injury and train to your potential.

To be perfectly honest, it’s a little ironic me talking about this stuff because I am not exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to keeping myself in top shape. In fact I’m much more useful as a role model of how NOT to do it!

But as well as reducing the chances of getting injury, being in shape will help you get the most enjoyment out of your martial arts. I know that when I let my fitness go, training becomes a chore, and when I’m really working hard on my fitness and my weight, training becomes fully enjoyable again.

This was brought home to me today when I found out that somebody I know, the same age as me and with a young family like me, has just been diagnosed with a malignant tumor. He doesn’t know right now whether he has decades to live, or mere weeks.

Of course this came as a bolt out of the blue, and it really does set you to thinking. It’s really helped me wake up to the fact that if I’m always planning on losing weight “tomorrow”, or getting fit “tomorrow” or whatever it is you want to do “tomorrow”, that there might not be a tomorrow.

So I’ve made up my mind to set some of these things straight in my own life. I’ve spent last year focusing on my fitness and weight, but recently I sort of fell out of the habit of eating well and training often. With this sharp reminder that life may be a lot shorter than I would like it to be, it’s time to do these things.

Not really because I want to get fitter or to look better in the mirror. No the real reason is that I want to be able to fully enjoy my martial arts. Martial arts are a lot more enjoyable if you are in shape.


OK – that’s it for this week. Make sure to check out the first article in the series on pain here.

Remember, if you have anything you want to say, ask or contribute, you can drop me an email or leave your comments on Facebook. You can also comment directly on the website.

All the best!


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Quote of the Day

Life is short, Break the Rules.
Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY.
Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably
And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile
– Mark Twain

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gabriel April 30, 2012 at 11:37 pm

That’s a really good write-up on pain from a martial artist’s perspective. I look forward to seeing more…


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