Do Not Force Progress



An online student of mine contacted me regarding a shoulder pain when training Bong Sau and connected this to an ‘Elongated rotator cuff’.


Now, any concern and especially pain, needs to be addressed as pain is our body’s way of saying that something may be wrong.


In simple terms we are all built slightly differently and what is comfortable for one person is not always the same for another.


In short, ‘If it is not comfortable, do not do it.


One reason for this could be that you may be trying to lift your elbow too high, if this is the case, do not worry, as with the turning stance you will be moving out of the way too.


A question I put to this person was:

Does it hurt if your elbow only reaches shoulder height and did it always hurt?

Also has it changed since you’ve added more speed and power?


Not being there in front of a student is obviously difficult for me to see what they are doing, therefore I would always suggest that you check with your doctor before starting your training to make sure that it is safe for you to do so.

In saying that thought it may well be that your muscles are just adjusting and that you just need to keep an eye on it.


The issue here turned out to be that he was practicing 100 at a time, and practicing 100 of anything (before you are comfortable with it) is always a risky thing.

Slow and steady is the way forward with most training.


Again though in general I would recommend that you check with your doctor before any training should you have ANY concerns.


A slight rest from training Bongs did the world of good and he was on top form again in no time, so as I said:

Slow and Steady (as it should be with anything) and, “If it’s not comfortable, it’s not right”.


Avoid forcing anything and let things arrive through gentle encouragement.


For example:

Lets say you were not very supple and you decided to train trying to get your head to reach your knees (with legs locked of course) then some may say to just force it.
But what happens the moment you relax again?

You move away from that position.


Same in Chi Sau, forcing the elbows in for double Fook Saus (as in the using of a Chi Sau ring perhaps), what happens the moment you relax your arms?

The elbows move out again.


So any FORCED positions are short term positions.


I would also say that this is the case for those who force their students to call them Sifu.


Sifu is a title and a way of the student showing respect, but forced respect is false respect.


I would never force a student to call me Sifu, however, I would remind them that if they do not respect me as a teacher do not expect me to respect you as a student.


Thinking about it, it is a strange thing that someone who is training you, spending almost intimate and intricate time with you, training you a lifestyle as well as a way of defending  you and the lives of your family, you then choose to show such little respect as to want to be on first name terms with that person, and yet this same person when visiting the doctor, will immediately use only his title, when addressing this complete stranger?


So again I say:

Do Not Force Progress. 

Allow it to develop with you and it will be there forever.


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