Three weeks ago, during a wonderful aikido seminar of which I really must type about, I re-herniated a disk in my lower back and was reduced to immobile agony on the mat. Having assured my training partner it was not his fault (this has happened to me before) I then spent an hour trying not to bawl my eyes out. The urge to cry was triggered by:
- the pain, which if I even as much twitched a toe sent a fresh roll of pain, and,
- pure frustration at not being able to train.
Today was the first day since that incident that I was able to seriously consider returning to the mat to train. Today was a jitsu day, and for a recovering back it is not the best of martial arts to be doing, so I (wisely) decided not to train. Instead I shall tentatively try an aikido session in a few days and see what my back has to say.
As someone who adores their training, who would happily spend every single night on the mat if she could (and on the odd occasion has managed to do this for a few weeks) this sudden inactivity, the lack of training, the lack of doing… Well my mind went through several stages.
- Frustration. How dare pain stop me. Now note that I could (theoretically) continue to train. My GP assures me there is no damage being done, it’s “just” that the nerve is being tweaked in ways it shouldn’t be. So if painkillers could numb the pain then I would be able to do simple things like sitting down.
- Depression. Because the painkillers removed the edge of the pain but it didn’t eliminate them. A gloomy British winter was setting in, I was in constant pain, I couldn’t even have a beer because of the drugs.
- Rage. Stupid back, stupid ineffective drugs, stupid me. The world was against me.
- Acceptance. Things have to get better in their own time. Yes, there were gentle exercises I could do, but nature has to take it’s course.
- Clarity. Ahhh. And calmness.
Clarity. These forced weeks of being away from the dojo made me acknowledge something important. A few months ago I had mused about what sort of training I was going to do and how often, because in the city I am in there is so much on offer. Sadly I am only here until June, and then I am back to the rural parts I normally live in and my choice is narrowed down. I have been stupidly running around, training four or five times a week in aikido and jitsu and in this pause, in this calm within the storm, I realise that I was learning little. I cannot have it all. It’s too soon. I am not advanced enough down any of the paths I do to concentrate full time on jitsu, aikido with one group and aikido with a different group. Studies, family, training. Something has to give, and it’s going to have to be the later.
So come the new year, before I plunge back into the maelstrom, I need to make a decision. No that doesn’t mean abandoning one martial art over another but it does mean I need to choose a focus for the coming months and absorb myself into that. Yes, I could do an odd day or two in the other, but I now know something has to take the primary position.
As to what that martial art will be, I really don’t know yet. I am torn. Whatever I choose I will feel like I have cruelly left the others in the cold, when really I have just sent them into hibernation.