Beware the one arm pirate!

Having spent years training in Aikido,  it is inevitable that injuries occur. And when they do I am amazed by the story and lessons I get to learn.

For the last few months I have been nurturing a rather severe injury in my shoulder. It has limited my range of motion considerably as well as being a source of near continuous pain. The result is that I am not able to move as freely as usual and I am a bit cranky at times.

In our dojo, it is up to the injured person to decide the level of training that is safest and the partners agree to abide by those restrictions. Recently I got on the mat with my right shoulder wrapped tightly to my body to keep it immobilized and safe. On the surface it looked like I was unable to do much in the way of self defense.

Yet something interesting happened. Each person that I trained with discovered that I was not helpless, and in fact my throws were exceptionally potent from my one good side. It was a revelation and delight to be able to train both extra carefully and fully engaged.

One training partner after another came in with strikes, grabs and punches and I was able to manage them all with considerable and surprising ease. In the middle of throwing one of the young guys vigorously across the mat, someone called out playfully, “Beware the one arm pirate.”

So how does it happen that even in pain and with one arm strapped to my side unable to move, I can still throw a guy twice my size clear across the room?

Well, here is the thing. When we are injured we compensate for it in other ways. This situation forced me to rely on other skills, like clarity of my footwork, speed and agility. It also required that I place no effort into strength. Even on my best days, all of these guys are significantly stronger than I am. No, instead I had to look for the opening, the opportunity, the moment their balanced was compromised and then move in swiftly.

My job was to move carefully but confidently, trusting what I have learned through years of training on the mat, years of falling down and getting up, years of being thrown across the room and figuring out how to do that with safety and elegance.

In an odd way, my injury provided me with a shiny moment of triumph. Which quite frankly, I accept and enjoy because the rest of the time it has been just pain and physical therapy and loss of movement. And none of those things feel very good.

So here is my question for you to think about, to ponder, to consider.

How can your injuries, that place where you feel vulnerable or pain, cause you to have an advantage?

Where in your life does it look like all odds are against you, but when you reach inside to your years of strength and skill and life’s victories, you find you have an over flowing well of personal power?

Find it, tap into it.

And enjoy it.

Best blessings to you,