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bowlie's picture
Martial arts for self improvement

I started martial arts properly at 17, doing 6 months of Boxing, followed by 6 months of BJJ. The difference I saw inmyself was great. I was more confident, a happier, healthier and felt like I was acheiving more. Every time I trained I was workign towards, or acheiving a goal, whilst learning how to defend myself, and that feeling was great. Sadly I aggrivated a recurrent shoulder surgery in my first BJJ tornament and had to have reconstructive shoulder surgery on both shoulders.

In the time I couldnt train I became quite depressed and really missed that sense of acomplisment and self worth I got from training in a combat sport, and developed OCD, in the form of an irrational fear of germs / viruses in particular. It doesnt really impact upon my life, appart from in training. I was so looking forward to fighting again, and tried out a few local MMA gyms, but I have heard you can get all sorts of nasty things from the mats and it made me really uncomfortable, and I never went back to them.

While I was waiting for my arm to heal I started taekwondo, as a stepping stone from nothing back towards a full contact sport. I really enjoy it, and made some really good friends, but I dont feel the quality of teaching is that great (its a student run club at uni) or that it really prepares me for anything in real life. I have also started boxing since my arm has been better and have only been doing that since christmas. I was really enjoying it, untill we sparred, and I got hit by a 15 year old litteraly 2/3rds of my weight. That kid was so strong and fast, it really made me re-think how much I want to compete in this sport. Its not getting hurt, or putting in hard work, im more than willing to put in as much of those as I need to. Its the risk of injury or brain damage.

I guess going through the surgery and being unable to do anything / being weak as a kitten for weeks made me realize how important it is that I look after my body, so when I get to 40 I can still enjoy life and play with my kids e.c.t. Im willing to put in as much hard work as it takes, but not at the expense of my health, and seeing the beating I took in light sparring against someone so small... well I just dont think my brain could take that much rattling for long. So im stuck. I feel like I want to go back to that stage where I was competing in combat sports because I was doing something good, working on my self confidence, acheiving goals and getting healthier. Im also not sure how to get there without destroying my body or mind, and my OCD makes me feel very very uncomfortable in some places. Unfortunatly most really good fighting gyms are pretty hardcore places (read thilthy)

Wastelander's picture

In my experience, good gyms mop their mats with disinfectant cleaner on a regular basis specifically to prevent spreading things like Staph, Ringworm, MRSA and Plantar's warts, which I assume are the type of thing you are worried about. Even "hardcore" gyms do this, because they know that people will spread the word if they start getting those issues after training there, and that will make other people not want to train there.

It sounds like striking arts, at least ones with contact, may not be for you--there is no shame in that, by the way--but it sounds like you enjoyed grappling. I would recommend finding a BJJ gym in your area (I would say wrestling, judo or sambo as well, but those tend to require more falling than BJJ and that wouldn't be good for your shoulders) and talk to the instructor. Ask about their cleaning practices, explain your previous injuries and discuss your goals, and they should be able to work something out with you. If they can't, or you still want to do a striking art, then I would say you should probably practice one that doesn't spar, or where sparring is optional, since that will avoid the problems you have with contact to the head.

bowlie's picture

yeah thats the kind of thing im worried about. Disinfectant is reassuring to a point, but it doesnt help if its someone in the same session / day depending on how frequently they do it. That said, I think I will try going to my old gym over the summer and doing BJJ. I spent 6 months training there so hopefully I will be able to do it.

I think for now I ought to carry on boxing and taekwondo, do BJJ over the summer, and take up judo after that (Im moving next year and there is a really good judo place). Im worried about my shoulders, but hopefully if I talk to the instructor we will come up with something.

I did really enjoy BJJ, although I did end up injured alot (partly because It was a small class and the other guys were alot heavier than me). Im not really dead set sure on what my direction is with martial arts though. I was so motivated, wanting to get back into BJJ and boxing but i dont know now. The problem with not sparring is that it feels like I wont progress. the sparring is optional in boxing, but if you dont in any sport how do you progress? I feel like I dont have.

Its strange because part of me wants to carry on and part of me wants to stop. On the one hand, I feel like martial arts have helped me develop as a person, and can help me develop, working on my confidence and willpower. The other part of me thinks that maybe my heart isnt in it any more and its something I feel like I should do rather than want to. And obviously if its something I dont enjoy any more I am wasting my time. I guess ignorance really is bliss.