Jammed Fingers - Lesson Learned

Jammed fingers are the worst. I know that for a fact now.

Last Tuesday I sparred with some fingerless bag gloves so I could have more dexterity with my hands. I feel the most comfortable with using my hands in sparring and have relaxed my guard somewhat so that my hands are generally open and not in a fist when I'm guarding. When I strike and defend, I close my hands. I found the downside of this open hand guard very quickly. I reflexively reached down with my left hand to block a roundhouse kick, but did not close my hand all the way in time. A jolt of intense pain shot through my little finger and ring finger. Mr. M called break while I walked around shaking my hand out and trying to will the pain away. I had to have help taking my glove off because these gloves are very tight fitting and I could feel my fingers starting to swell. Mr. M and I looked at my fingers. My ring finger wasn't hurting much, but my pinky finger was more than making up for it. I was able to bend my fingers them and make a proper fist, so I decided to keep sparring -- but only after switching to my nice foam gloves.

I followed Mr. M's advice and iced my fingers when I got home. The next morning, both fingers were swollen and solid purple on the palm side. I continued to ice them for as long as I could stand it, then buddy taped the fingers together.

Today marks one week since I jammed them. The swelling and the bruising finally went away, but I'm still having to tape them at night and some during the day. I'm just now able to type well with my little finger. I hoped that there wouldn't be any issues with my ability to do Tae Kwon D tonight. I taped them up and they were fine -- even while doing break falls, shoulder rolls, and sparring. I was worried during sparring because I couldn't pull my fingers in all the way for a tight fist. I didn't want to go through that pain again right as they were starting to get better, so I protected that hand as much as I could.

I didn't realize until after I jammed them that I rely on my fingers for a lot of things. From playing guitar and making a proper fist to doing everyday activities like getting dressed, typing, and gripping things. I'm going to appreciate being able to do the minute things so much more once they heal.

What was the lesson learned through all of this? If you spar with open hands and/or fingerless gloves, be aware of the consequences. Duly noted.

"Punch with your right hand. . . no, the OTHER right hand!"

I've been assisting Mr. Mc with the kids' class for the past several weeks. Now I'm helping out on a regular basis because attendance has gone from something like 5-9 regulars to 15 this past week. We have a lot of new white belts who have only been to a handful of classes, so it has been a trying time keeping them in line and focused. The more instructors and advanced belts on the floor, the better.

We've been focusing on stances and it's been a trying time to get them all to move the correct arm or leg consistently. Whether it's "Punch with your right hand" or "Slide your left leg forward," there's almost always several who do the opposite.

I know that part of this problem is due the use of the mirror image. If I'm facing a student and I take a step to the left, they take a step to the right. It's frustrating when you're trying to teach them the correct way of doing things, but I know from personal experience that adults need time to get used to this concept and we still mess up sometimes. On Monday, I went to a Zumba class at my church. The instructor was facing us, and at least 80% of the class mixed up the directions. I thought this was funny as the majority of the women in class were adults. If adults have problems with this, then you can bet that the kids are having way more trouble. Some of this can't be helped. When we line up and bow in to start class, the instructors always face the students. Once class has started, I usually try to line up with the students and face the same way they are so they can watch me as I demonstrate the stances.

Mr. Mc did find a method that helped the kids remember which leg moves to go into a front stance. When he told them to move their right leg but they moved their left instead, he had them all grab a chair and hold their left leg up for several minutes until it became uncomfortable. Once they were allowed to put both feet on the ground, he called out the stance again. Surprise, surprise! Every student remembered which leg to move this time around. The next week he threatened to use the same torture-- I mean drill -- if they confused their left from right. Everyone reassured him that they would remember, and they did. Discomfort can be a good teacher, or at least, good motivation.