The point is to be better, not injured

Something I keep running into is people that are hurt all the time from training. These people are doing Martial Arts and/or Strength & Conditioning. When faced with the chronically hurt, I ask them what the point of the training is? In most cases it is poor instruction combined with poor information and social pressure. Basically incompetent people brainwashing people into believing it is them, not the methods.

What is the point of training? Is it not to make us better? Chronic damage has nothing to do with progress or being better. There is no honor or glory in self destruction. Yes, we have to be broken down to be rebuilt strong, but that is more metaphorical than physical. We need to break ourselves mentally down to our most honest and raw place in order to be rebuilt, more reconnected. Yes, muscle gets broken down and rebuilds itself stronger. Yes, you will have to endure soreness and some pain, but you should not be broken in ways that you cannot come back better.

Injuries happen in everything. Throwing heavy weights or dealing with combat sports has a perception of danger that is not equal to its reality when juxtaposed with other physical activities.  High school cheerleading has a higher injury rate and mortality issue than martial arts or fitness training. Good coaching and real knowledge will have you training progressively towards a goal with as little injury time as possible.

I have been fighting the good fight against the misconception about fighters for my entire career. So many people come thru my doors expecting a blood bath. The reality of all people that train is the day after, we all have to do this again, go to work, go to school, compete… we all have to function at a high level outside the gym. This demands that our work does not diminish our ability to function. We have to train in a way in which we can perform better, not worse due to nagging damage from training.

Lots of coaches learned from bad people and have embraced fictitious claims of strength thru destruction. Too many bad movies and made up ideas have been infused with training culture. There is no honor is destruction. There is no strength in permanent injury. There is no mindset or focus that can change science and the effect of impact on the human body. You can’t get your brain used to being hit, your broken back will not heal itself by “working thru” the pain.

I have a friend doing Jiu Jitsu at a facility that is not mine. His neck and shoulders are wrecked all the time from being smashed by upper belts. He is a white belt that knows practically nothing. The people he trains with were beat down as white belts and now are getting theirs back by beating on the next crop of white belts. This means their instructor is an asshole. The instructor is the creator of the culture that the students operate within. Anyone who promotes a hierarchy where the higher rank abuses the lower is an asshole.

Real training is positive, progressive, and has a culture where the upper rank teach the lower rank. The best systems hand down information from one to another as caretakers of the system. Yes, some style are more physical and come with more risk than others but ultimately all good systems make people better, stronger, and more functional. There is a phase in kickboxing where your legs hurt. It is part of getting used to leg kicks. It is an unavoidable reality to combat sports that kick to the legs. This is different from somebody neck cranking the shit out of you and saying you need to “learn”. Straining a spine is not bruising a thigh. A good instructor knows these things while a bad one uses mental manipulation to make you believe bullshit.

Do your homework and look into the reality of martial culture. Don’t listen to th instructors that have manipulated history and ideas to fit into their personal worldview. All good systems have science and sound philosophy behind them. If you are stuck in a bully culture, get out. That is not the martial way. You should be challenged, not permanently damaged. You should hand your knowledge down to the next person, not get your licks back.

A black belt means nothing. The value a person provides is their worth. Rank can be faked, bought, or misrepresented. There are very good black belts that deserve respect for what they have done and how they translate that into a current value. It is up to you to do your homework in order to recognize what is real and what is bullshit.

Brian Wright