Here is today’s “aha!” moment.

I was seriously thinking I should give up my martial arts training.

Who am I kidding?? I’m 55, after all–I know people that old who have grandchildren older than my kids. I’m now, thanks to all my injuries and my seeking to comfort myself in cookies and endless cups of chai, more out of shape than ever. Every time I’ve tried to get back into sparring, I get hurt.

I should get the message, right?


I love the training. It’s hard, and I whine about it constantly. But I love what it does for my body, my mind and my spirit. It has improved my balance immensely, something that’s going to be increasingly important as I age.

And I just don’t want to give that up.

Well then, maybe I shouldn’t spar, right?

Except sparring serves an important function in the sport. It improves your timing. It forces you to “put it all together”, to actually use your kicks and strikes in real-time–not just “practice mode.” And…it’s fun. Nothing gets your heart pumping and your adrenalin rushing like sparring.

And here’s the “aha!” part.

Since I injured my hard, people have come out of the woodwork to share their own hand injury stories. I’ve been inundated with sad stories of broken wrists and damaged hands. Sometimes two broken wrists–ow!! It seems like almost everyone has had a brush with one-handedness or even no-handedness at some point in their life, or knows someone who has.

And how did all these people injure their hands?

Doing nothing. Doing stupid stuff. Doing ordinary stuff.

They slipped and fell down. They fell in the bathtub, down the stairs, and on the sidwalk. They shut their hand in a car door. (One of those at the clinic the other day as I waited to get my bandage changed.) They cut themselves while slicing a bagel. They tripped on their shoelaces, or stumbled over the cat. They dropped something on their hand. A woman today told me she’d decided she needed more exercise. So she’d gone out for a nice long walk, got back to her house, slipped on the sidewalk–and broke her collarbone. “At least you were doing something interesting!”she said. “I feel pretty stupid just falling down in front of my house.”

In other words, they were just living their lives, minding their own business, doing ordinary things–and they got hurt.

In fact, everyone seems kinda thrilled that I injured my hand sparring. I guess it sounds much more dramatic than saying, “I went out to get my newspaper and I slipped on the step.” When I came back for a follow-up doctor visit, the nurses kept coming by and saying, “Are you the lady that got injured doing karate? That’s so cool!”

So I can get hurt doing something stupid. Or I can get hurt doing something I love.

Okay, I’m willing to make a few concessions.

I will take it very easy when I return to sparring. Maybe only practice with black belts (who are supposed to have exquisite control, after all.)

And maybe I will find some sparring gloves that come a little further down over my fingers….