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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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So this is the third week of hell!

Just kidding...but I must admit that this ‘everyday’ intensive work-out on my legs is starting to wear thin with my patience.  Every day, I keep telling myself that I will be so glad of this in the long run. Secretly, Emma is also pleased in one respect, as for every day I attend, I am one step closer to having legs like a rugby player. She’s always told me that she ‘loves me as I am’ but I now see that it’s all lies.

In spite of forced positivity, I feel that I have had regressed a little this week. This has hit my positivity especially hard since the development and decrease of aches and pains were the only things keeping me going. It was the light at the end of the tunnel of hydrotherapy and running machines. This week however, that light has dimmed a little.

With every day that had passed, my legs -although aching – seemed to most definitely be getting stronger. The outcome of this was that my knees were hurting and giving way far less. I say far less, but in fact they weren’t giving way at all. I thought I had experienced a divine intervention and my knees were miraculously fixed.

This week however, the pain is back...and it’s out for revenge.

They have felt weak, unstable and constantly on the brink of giving way. I leant down one evening, as I do often, to turn a switch on at the wall (to the internet so that I could work on TSW ironically) and my left knee just gave way and I fell over.  This was the thing that annoyed me so much. Yeah, throughout the previous two weeks the legs had been aching, but nothing a good Jack Daniels couldn’t solve, but now the knees were back to their old tricks. I am gutted.

I can be right old plonker some times. In spite of pain, and obvious injury, I keep going and keep training. Every day, I have gotten up and have been practicing my kicks. Like I almost needed to prove to myself that I could still do them. Of course I could as two weeks of little kicking isn’t going to destroy my kicking ability, but I have been riddled with insecurity over them. Sounds silly I know. I would do one on each leg and then foolishly think to myself ‘but what if that was a fluke?’, so I’d do it again to prove something to myself.

I am going to share a deep dark, somewhat embarrassing secret with you now.  Few people know this about me, apart from those close to me, but I will share it with you all now. I suffer with a little OCD. It’s completely undiagnosed, but I know...I am self diagnosed. More to the point, Emma most certainly knows. Good grief, she has hell. You may have guessed that I am not quite right from my OTT (Over the top) need to be very early for seminars (which I still insist is both understandable and necessary). What is not so necessary however is leaning up against the refrigerator door ten times after I have been in there for some ice (for my Jack Daniels of course).  I also don’t think it’s completely normal to stare at each plug point in the house for ten seconds before I leave the house (Just in case it somehow manages to switch itself on and the house goes up in flames). Therefore, my kicking is no different really. I have felt that I have needed to do it over and over again – which is not healthy is it?

So...like my attempts to wane myself off my plug staring and refrigerator door pushing addiction, I have said ‘NO’. Every time I find myself preparing to kick I say ‘NO SHAUN’.


Shaun Banfield


Anyway...back on track...I think I have been pushing myself far too much.  I haven’t been allowing myself to fully recover, which I am mad with myself about.

This week we were doing an exercise involving a bench propped up against a wall frame. We were paired up, and one person had to hold the end of the bench that was not propped onto the wall frame. This person had to hold the bench end to their chest, therefore making the bench parallel to the ground, and had to squat up and down for one minute and a half. On every elevation of the bench, the second partner had to squat on one side of the bench, step under the bench and elevate on the other side. We had to build up a rhythm like in this way for the duration of the exercise.

I found however that every time I stepped over to the left, therefore exerting pressure onto the left leg, it gave way. My physio then explained my error.

When squatting, she explained, the knees should have and maintain a plumb line from their knee to their feet. Throughout the squat you should always be able to see your toes. Therefore, when squatting, your backside has to go backwards putting pressure on the quads whilst maintaining the correct and healthy plumb line. When doing this however, I was pushing the knee too far forward (taking the plumb line too far over the foot), and exerting pressure on the knees. This was the reason why my left knee was giving way.

Later that day, I went home and started to do my daily routine, this day doing a little stance work. I analysed my Zenkutsu-dachi ‘s plumb line and yes my knee was too far forward. Kokutsu-dachi, yes my knee was too far forward. Kiba-dachi, yes too far forward. Do I teach my students to push the knee this far forward however? Of course not.

The main thing that has come from this week is that I am further understanding the problems that often can be associated with practicing karate. People say, ‘Ah karate is bad for the body!’, but I am moving further away from that belief every day. If the fundamental principles are adhered to, karate can be healthy. I perhaps realise that I have been an example of not 100% practicing what I am preaching, which I will be turning my attention to over the remaining weeks of the physio. I am going to refer back to basics, analyse my movement and technique and identify the discrepancies between my practice and my preach. 

Shaun Banfield