It’s a question almost as old as martial arts itself: “What happens if I get hurt while I’m practicing?”
The thought comes to all of us at one time or another – even those of us who have been part of the sport for decades. After all, mistakes happen. They’re a part of life. So, the best answer to this question is that, sooner or later, you may just have to deal with it! (But in a healthy and educational way.)
Avoiding Injuries in Martial Arts
In your daily life, you likely do plenty of things that could be considered just as, if not more, dangerous than any martial arts you take part in. Activities like crossing an icy street, driving a car, or running up a flight of stairs – all of these can easily lead to injuries.
But do you avoid them altogether? No! You simply take precautions to minimize your chances of getting hurt: you look both ways, you stay aware of your surroundings, and you use the handrail. The same philosophy can be applied to martial arts like kung fu. You train carefully!
Teaching Kung Fu Safely
Minimizing injuries should always be your #1 priority, whether you are training by yourself or with others. A good instructor will also be incredibly safety-conscious, often seeing scenarios that even you may not be aware of. Like many activities, training in kung fu can be extremely safe or extremely dangerous, and this tone is set by the quality of the instructor. It’s not just about the technique, the fun, or the form; it’s also, always, about safety.
With that said – an instructor can only do so much, and truly safe training is something that you must also take responsibility for. Be aware of your own limits, and when you are training with someone else, ensure that you take great care not to hurt them. After all, you want them to take the same care with you in return.
This is often a matter of listening to your own body and its signals. When your body says stop, don’t try to push it – just stop and let yourself recover. Things like ego or pride can often get in the way, and cause people to try and “power through” the situation. Learn to recognize if you are doing this, or if someone around you is doing it.
"Realistic" Fights in Martial Arts
Another cause of totally preventable injuries while training is the pursuit of “realism”, or sometimes, even just “fun”. Even here in our controlled environment, we see people get hurt because they “just wanted to have fun” or wanted to “try that cool move for real”. To put it bluntly, if you try a spontaneous backflip or a roundhouse kick because you saw it in a movie, it won’t be nearly as fun or cool as you think. Guaranteed.
A good instructor knows that this kind of fun and realism come second to safety. Martial arts are not boring to begin with; it doesn’t have to be dangerous to be exciting, and such realistic and fun simulations can be done with little or even no risk. Managing that approach and that risk level is key to preventing injuries, and no amount of fun is worth the potential of intense harm.
So, what can you do? If you’re in a situation where you think yourself or someone else will be hurt, stop immediately. Your instincts are there for a reason, and one of them is to prioritize safety over everything else. Put safety first, quality second, and happiness third.
What to Do for Martial Arts Injuries
Now the big question: what if you do get injured? If you do kung fu for long enough, this will happen to you – or anyone else – who does the sport as an adult.
The first and most simple thing is to STOP training immediately. There is no use in pretending that you are invincible, trying to “push through the pain”, as it will only do more damage and set you back further. In fact, unless you are in a life-or-death situation, there is no reason to keep going. Remember, your pride can heal a lot faster than your physical injuries.
Next, do a quick check of the injury, which you will likely do instinctively anyway. It may be something small, like a pulled muscle that can be addressed with consistent stretching, or an accidental cut that needs a bandage. If that’s all, great! You know your body well, so if it doesn’t interfere with training, make the decision on whether to continue.
However, some injuries may end up more serious and affect you for the long-term, requiring methods like physiotherapy and ongoing muscle management. In the Shaolin method of fixing injuries, you move against the pain very gently, slowly allowing your tissues to recover over time, and even this should only be done after speaking to an instructor directly (as they will give you advice specifically to suit your exact injury). Meditation can be a great tool for pain management, and for some people, it has aided them immensely in their journey back to health.
With all that in mind, these techniques are not a replacement for a visit with an actual doctor. If you are injured – see a professional! It’s free in Canada and they will be able to help diagnose and treat minor and major injuries alike. Remember, an injury may set you back for a while, but an injury that is treated improperly will set you back for much longer. Use every resource available to you so you can get back to what you love – training in the martial arts!
Pop culture shows meditation as a very relaxing and gentle exercise, but Shaolin meditation is different. This particular form is not about relaxation, but instead about strengthening your mind. Discipline of breathing is crucial, and these exercises can feel like you’re drowning; combined with vigorous eye and abdomen exercises, it can actually be quite an ordeal.However, many practitioners swear by it, with anecdotal (and, to a lesser extent, scientific) evidence that Shaolin meditation can reduce pain, symptoms of illness, or even injury. The psychosomatic effect of meditation can help you feel better, which makes it good to use in conjunction with professional medical treatments. And there’s no doubt that it boosts mental faculties and helps keep your mind sharp.
What is the meaning of our lives? What is our individual purpose for being here? What can we achieve with the right motivation? These questions are the big ones, and many people struggle with answering them throughout their whole life. Many of them will never find a satisfactory answer. But that journey towards understanding our own value – finding self-mastery – is one of the most important journeys we can go on, even though it may require years of patience, discipline, and introspection.
The reason that it takes so long is that you must truly come to understand the relationship between your mind and your body. You must realize how your emotions and desires affect your behaviour, and balance them in harmony. To do this effectively, let’s look at five obstacles identified by the Shaolin Master Shi Heng Yi that often get in the way of our goals, called the “Five Hindrances to Self-Mastery”. By overcoming these, he says, you can make good decisions, help achieve your goals, and live a happier life. While these teachings are not fully within the realm of kung fu, the underlying message will definitely be helpful to all.
Kung Fu vs Karate
It’s a topic that comes in conversation in playgrounds and pubs, offices and the great outdoors. It’s a debate that’s been going on for decades, across all ages: “Which is better, kung fu or karate?”
The truth is, when it comes to martial arts, there’s no such thing as better or worse. There’s only different. And those differences in styles, gear, and moves are what gives each form its distinct look and feel. So, when we talk about kung fu versus karate (or any other martial art), they’re both just different expressions of the same concepts and ideas, and they are each fully capable in their own right. Here, we’ve laid out some of the main differences and similarities between the two.
The Martial Art of Hapkido
For anyone interested in getting into martial arts, there is certainly no shortage of choices on what to study. Over the last year we’ve talked about some of the more “famous” forms – like karate, tae kwon do, and ninjutsu – but there are many others that are less well known. One of these is hapkido.
BJJ - Brazilian Jui Jitsu
The history of martial arts is often richly layered and deep, with many different forms coming from the same original set of teachings. We’ve covered some of these in the past, and even in the modern age, many of these forms come into being as variations of more traditional forms. Today we’re going to be talking about one that is very popular in modern sports: Brazilian jiu-jitsu, also known as Gracie jiu-jitsu.
Kung Fu Studio Rules
In order to keep a safe and educational environment, at Kung Fu For Life we promote a healthy respect for others, ourselves, and our facility. To make sure everyone is treated fairly, we have a set of rules for our space, broadly split up into several different areas. These are quite standard across martial arts studios, and help protect our students, teachers, and equipment as we all take part in this journey together.
The Martial Art of Tai Chi
The words “martial arts” conjure up all kinds of imagery – and it’s usually Hollywood-style, over-the-top fight scenes that just barely jive with the laws of physics. But the truth is, the disciplines of different martial arts cover a wide range of activities and goals, and many of them are not focused on fighting. In fact, some of them have historically prioritized form, meditation, focus, balance, and other “inner” qualities. Tai chi quan, meaning “supreme ultimate boxing” and simply known as tai chi in most of pop culture, is one of them.
The Martial Art of Kendo
We’ve spent a lot of the last few months talking about different martial arts – karate, tae kwon do, kickboxing, and so on – but for the most part, those have all focused on disciplines that prioritize body movement over weapons. While some, like ninjustsu, allow for the use of weapons like staffs, the majority of the training is on how to strike, block, and counter with your own body. Today let’s talk about a martial art that goes the other way: the Japanese school of kendo.
The Martial Art of Ninjutsu
Of all the different fields of martial arts that we have already looked at, or will look at more closely in the future, perhaps the most misunderstood one is that of ninjutsu – the art and techniques of the nearly-mythical hidden attackers known as ninjas. From its ancient roots to its explosion in popularity during the last few decades, mostly thanks to pop culture phenomena like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the idea of what ninjutsu is and what its practitioners do has always walked the line between legend and reality.