In the course of your training, it is highly possible that at some point you will come to class with some kind of pain from a minor injury. Maybe you slammed your knee on a coffee table or jammed your fingers playing basketball. Maybe in the last sparring class you banged your shin pretty hard. No matter how careful you are, how well you sleep, how nutritiously you eat, there will be times when you will have to train when in pain. Before taking class be sure to tell whoever is instructing about your injury. In fact, use common sense to decide whether you should even go to class. Realize, however, that it usually makes sense t0 train with minor injuries as you will likely be removed from part of class that might aggravate your injury and given something else to do that furthers your training. Training with a minor injury (although painful) is often a blessing in disguise.
Training while injured can be a blessing in two ways. The first revolves around what you did (or didn’t do) to get injured in the first place, especially if it occurred in class. Many times the pain was caused by doing something incorrectly. Perhaps you didn’t defend property or you executed a poor offensive technique or counter technique. Maybe you fell wrong or weren’t listening to your body. Analyze the injury’s cause and learn to not do it again.
In the real world, there is no guarantee that you will have all of your weapons available to you in the event of a contest. The second blessing is learning how to spar and apply techniques without the use of one or more hands and/or feet. Students can sometimes become stagnant with their training and focus too much on their dominant side’s hands or feet techniques. Damaging one of the dominant weapons forces you to learn and utilize techniques with the other hand or side of body. This also forces you to utilize your entire body differently as all our techniques require the whole body to move in synchronization. In san shou or sparring, put your damaged hand behind your back to protect it and do what it takes to defend yourself one-handed. Be prepared to defend yourself with what you have – understanding you only have one hand, utilize your feet and leg for defensive movements.
If you have a damaged leg or foot, you need to decide if you want the damaged one to be your rear, weight-baring foot or your forward, non-weight baring foot. Whatever you do, take care not to haphazardly use the damaged leg in some kind of technique that will injure it. Proper footwork is key to move out of harms way and counter when you are damaged. Should you train like this until your appendage is healed, these new techniques will likely stay with you as a part of your “arsenal” and you will agree that the damaged body part actually made you a better martial artist.