Friday, December 7, 2012

Codename: Kamikaze* Kate

*Apologies to WWII veterans and those of Japanese descent who may be offended by this reference.

So every day that I do silks, I make four climbs to the top (about 18 feet in the air) before beginning to work on other moves. This builds muscle and endurance as well as improving your comfort with heights and so on. I almost always do difficult climbs in order to further increase my performance, and therefore, on Wednesday night, climbed up 18 feet of silk in a standard wrap on my off-foot. Not satisfied with this challenge, I decided to invert (i.e. go upside) and descend in a same side wrap. Unfortunately, my arms apparently had had enough and suddenly I found myself falling upside-down back to the mat. In a quick, desperate attempt to catch myself, I pinched the fabric in my right armpit, thereby righting myself so that I was falling feet first in a more controlled fashion. I am pleased to report that I only had one injury.

This photo preceded the most painful shower of my life in which I uttered borderline sexual screams of agony washing that thing out. No I did not cry. Yes it still hurts like fucking hell.

Anyway, so the rest of the class went without incident. Oh. No wait. Jesus Christ, no it didn't. No, you see, putting appearance before my own personal safety, I insist on wearing a pair of cotton yoga shorts over my unitard when I do silks because I hate the way I look in the Just Unitard look. So after my fall, I dusted my hands and climbed back up to the top and then tied up my aching armpit and performed a few tricks. I was finishing one of my favorites when for some reason I didn't drop as far as I was planning.
"Oh," someone said, "Your shirt is caught."
But I wasn't wearing a shirt. No, no. I was hanging twelve feet in the air by my bootie shorts which were now at level with my fucking eyes. If your thought right now is, "my God, that must have been the biggest wedgie," then CONGRATULATIONS. Your thought merges perfectly with my friend Tini's statement of "Oh my God, Kate, you have the biggest wedgie." Yeah. So, after my instructor stood beneath me and allowed me to stand on her hands, I was able to untie myself and return to the earth.

So I'm not sure about the status of the shorts, but I walked away with two injuries, armpit and pride. Not the worst, really. This brings me to the wonderful subject of injuries (WHICH IS THE POINT OF THIS POST, NOT MY HORRIFICALLY SAD MOMENT OF SHORTS BINDING, OK?!)
Anyway. Injuries. Some may disagree with this, but it is my humble opinion that injury is an inevitable aspect of training. My worst injury is that of my left ankle. I was playing soccer at 8pm one sub-zero February night (yes it was outdoors) when I misplaced my step and my toes curled beneath my foot as I was landing. A tumble and a roll found me on my knees, screaming dramatically into the night sky and trying not to tear up as a circle of men surrounded me, staring helpfully. I tore two ligaments, the second of which tore straight off of my shin bone, taking a small fragment with it. As a server I had to be back on my feet, crutch-free, in two days. My insurance at the time wasn't spectacular, so I had to rehab it myself without and physical therapy support, and the results weren't spectacular. Almost two years later, I still have problems with it, including re-spraining it this past August so badly I was on crutches for 48 hours. Essentially, the injury has gone chronic. It will likely always give me problems, it will ache, it will creak, it will be stiff, it will fail me. It will never fully recover. Soccer players also often face the dreaded ACL injury, which can put an athletic career on hold or terminate it entirely, even for professionals, as well as a lot of head injuries, sprains, and breaks. Needless to say, aerialists and traceurs face some similar problems.

Now, when I say that injuries are inevitable, I do not necessarily mean the sort of thing described above. But I do mean things like this.

Those are permanent scars on my back from sliding down the silks. The thing on my arm will likely scar as well. But like every athletic injury I earn, I'm proud of these nasty things. Every injury is a Red Badge of Honor; it is the sign that an athlete has pushed themselves to their limits, has pushed themselves beyond their limits, and taken a hit rather than backing down from a challenge. We should work on our parkour rolls to prevent avoidable injuries when vaulting; we should focus on proper technique from the beginning and throughout training, we should always, always admit when we're not quite comfortable trying something outside our capability. But scrapes and burns and an occasional ligament tear are part of the process. They're something to train through, something to learn from, something to display on your blog. 

Of course the punchline of this advice is that I re-earned my name Wednesday night of Kamikaze Kate. Meaning, I don't really focus enough on self-preservation. So maybe I'm not a good one to ask. 

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