My father fed me this line every time I felt pain or discomfort. Growing up the coach’s son was not without difficulty. My dad never played favorites; in fact I had to do it better and cleaner than the other kids. Now, he didn’t say this to be malicious, he just wanted to teach me something about athletic competition and in turn, a bit about life.
No matter what contact sport you play, if you’re making contact, you’re gonna get banged up. As a competitive athlete, you get used to living with pain. Soreness, torn muscles, dislocated fingers, toes and broken bones are the norm. I am sure there are plenty of you who can predict the weather better than the Doppler. So what does working with pain teach us and how to we put it into your training. Now if your training for a specific competition you obviously want to be in the optimum shape for the time of your competition. If your injury is so debilitating, you can’t function safely in the realm of competition, then you don’t compete. When it comes to REAL self defense; we have a saying, “if you can leave your house, you better be ready to get the job done. ”
Does this mean I wake up every day ready to take on the world? No. I probably wake up like most of you, slowly. But make no mistake, no matter what condition you leave your home in, you better be good to go. If not, stay home and don’t “compete”.
So, how do you teach your self to operate under less than optimum circumstances? How do you discover what your pain threshold is? How do you know the difference between a hurt and an injury? How you will function under the added stress? If you learn to practice hurt you will. If you can’t uses your right arm, use your left. Can’t stand, practice sitting. Can’t hit, arm yourself. If you are practicing for self defense realistically, this is the only attitude you can have. Anything less will leave you vulnerable.
If you have ANY physical conflict, you will get hurt. The notion of dispatching an enemy with hand to hand methods and not sustaining any injury is a lofty one, but it’s laughable at best. The more prolonged the conflict, the more damage you will absorb. One shot knock out, your hand is sore- knock down, drag out fight, he lays in the gutter, you drag yourself to the hospital.
This is one of the primary reasons I prefer to work out barefoot. Stubbed and dislocated toes hurt. This pain gets channeled into anger. The anger gets turned into adrenaline. The benefit is you associate pain with adrenalin. This is what will save your life!!! As soon as you feel pain you get mad and your convulsive reaction becomes an aggressive reaction. Your going to get hurt, you just have to deal with it.
Now if your practice doesn’t allow you to practice injured, you need to evaluate what you are trying to accomplish. I remember talking to a guy who practiced Brazilian jujutsu. He talked about what a great method of self defense it was and he expounded about the “realism”. Then he continued to tell me that he couldn’t practice because he was hurt. Now before I continue I must say that if the fault here is NOT Brazilian jujutsu; the problem is the guy practicing it. If he were realistic about his self defense he should get on the mat and learn to make his jujutsu work for him ESPECIALLY WHEN HE”S HURT. No matter what you practice, if you wish to adapt it for self defense, you better adapt it to every situation. It’s like a marriage- for better for worse, in sickness and in health. If you wrestle- you better know what its like to get hit or what it’s like to roll on the pavement. If you box, you’d better condition your hands to strike with out protection. With a little imagination, you can adapt anything for self defense.
Damian Ross is the owner of Zenshin and instructor of Tekkenryu jujutsu and Kodokan Judo. He started competing in the combative sport of wrestling in 1975 at the age of 7 and began his study of Asian martial arts with Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do at the age of 16 in 1984. In 1989, Shinan Cestari gave a seminar at Sensei Ross's dojo. Sensei Ross has trained under Shinan Cestari's direction ever since. In addition to Tekkenryu Jujutsu, Judo and Tae Kwon Do, Sensei Ross has also studied Bando. Sensei Ross continues his study of Judo under the direction of 8th degree black belt Yoshisada Yonezuka and Tekkenryu Jujutsu under it's founder, Carl Cestari.
Below are is a list of some of his title ranks:
Yodan (fourth degree black belt) Tekkenryu Jujutsu under Carl Cestari
Shodan (First degree black belt) Kodokan Judo under Yoshisada Yonezuka
Varsity Wrestling Lehigh University under Thad Turner
2nd Degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do