Stay in the fight. Martial arts teachers love that phrase. Mine say it, most of the teachers in Sam Sheridan's fight memoir A Fighter's Heart say it, Chiwetel Ejiofor says it in Redbelt. Even if you're getting your ass handed to you, stay in the fight. You never know what'll happen if you do, but you do know what'll happen if you don't. You'll lose.
My ass got knocked right out of The Fight a couple of days ago.
I'm a scant few weeks away from testing for my Green belt. Reaching the Green in tang soo do is a big deal; it shows commitment, seriousness, and desire. I'd been going to two, sometimes three regular classes a week, and doing Saturday sparring sessions on top of that. Regular classes: learning kicks, punches, blocks, combinations. Sparring: putting those lessons into action. Practice during the week. Saturday - game on. As a Fighter - one who actually knows how to make use of all that stuff they teach - I was progressing, slowly, but steadily. I'd go up against guys at my level who'd flail about, trying to go all Movie Style, throwing kicks and punches just to see what might land, and handle them nicely. Block. Block. Sidestep. Stay in the fight. Kick. Punch. Win. If you go up against anyone below Black belt, you will get hit, and hit hard, even though you're told light contact. Most novices can't control all of their strikes. (Last week: a Yellow belt, two ranks below me, a few years older, and at least a dozen pounds heavier, got me: punch to the side of the head, bare-fisted, no less. I almost lost my cool. Motherfu...then deep breath, quick blink, back to the Poker Face. I don't like to show any emotion when I spar somebody. Control yourself, control the fight.) I'd go up against Red belts and even a couple of Black belts, and I'd get my ass handed to me, but you know, I'd sneak in a few hits, earn some respect. One of those things about entering your forties: you realize that you don't have a lot of chances to get good at something new. And I was getting good.
The past three days: hobbling around in nauseating pain. Turns out you can get tendonitis in your hip. And I did. According to The Internet, tendonitis is brought on by too much repetitive motion. I'd had it before, in both shoulders, thanks to surfing. And so it happened: too many roundhouse kicks, and one day my left leg feels like it's going to explode. The past three days I've barely been able to walk, the past two nights I haven't slept - because here's the funny part: resting your hip actually makes it worse - your muscles stiffen up, and when you move, it's like someone's reaching into your leg, grabbing those muscles, and pulling as hard as they can, trying to rip them right off the bone, like a starving man mauling a KFC drumstick. I've been popping Aleve tablets like M&M's, and it's done little; the pain's a dull roar. Tubes of Icy Hot, tins of Tiger Balm, and the house smells like a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver. And that's it. That's how it's treated. (I'd thought of going the Sterling Cooper Treatment route, but fears of bleeding ulcers have kept me away from medicinal Martinis.) Eventually it goes away. Usually.
My Green belt test is in four weeks. I'll likely be out the rest of this week. My shoulder tendonitis took me about a week to get over, and I was back in the water. So maybe I'll get lucky with the leg. I want that belt. It would be something, some yin in a year that's had a bit too much yang. Stay in the fight, I tell myself. Stay in the fight.