Usually these blogs contain my thoughts about where my training is and more importantly where my students training is. Today I’m sort travelling off the beaten path to discuss something of vital importance. Massage therapy.

Somewhere in 2003 I began a long and somewhat rocket roller coaster journey into massage therapy. Although when I started, I had never received a massage it was a profession that fascinated me. I appreciated the craft on different levels. For one, its ability to help someone become a better version of themselves. To feel better physically and have better mental clarity( yes, it really does this). I just knew it was for me. The field that I was led to surprised me when I found out how a massage therapist is supposed to move. For one, the movements are in tune with tai chi. Rotation through the center of the practitioner as they work the muscles, flowing movement, and power through grace are the things that grabbed my attention in the first few classes in Louisville. The idea that you didn’t need strong hands and arms to be able to be good at it. What you needed was an open mind and the desire to understand the movements. The stances are another aspect that drew me in. I was reintroduced to the horse stance and bow stance. These are stances I had been doing for 15 years at this time. So, it was easy and my instructors were complimentary and acknowledged the love I had for the movement. I asked them to be hard on me as it only made me better and I appreciated them more for it. By the end of 2003 I had a major setback that blindsided me. I had been working for a family owned business off and on for 10 years and toward the end of that year I was laid off as I was wrapping up my second class(Anatomy and Physiology). There were essentially 4 classes in the program and I was taking them one at a time on a part time schedule. The school was understanding about my difficult time and I had earned an “A” so I left with my teachers begrudgingly approval. I wouldn’t find a full time job again until the middle of 2004 and after being homeless for a while going back to school was pretty far down on my to do list.

Eventually at the beginning of 2008 I would return to massage school and graduate in 2009 and gain licensure. Even though it was a different school I felt as though my journey to become something had been somewhat fulfilled. Being a stranger in a strange land I began to experience the obstacles of being a male massage therapist in a small town. I’m not making excuses, however it is difficult fresh out of school and thinking you are going to change the world one disbeliever at a time and it just isn’t happening. At some point my hands got the better of me and I had to walk away from something that just wasn’t working out…and that’s ok. Going to post secondary school wasn’t without benefit though. As a martial artist I learned about the anatomy that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered on my own…even in formal martial instruction. In a sense the education I received had a profound affect on my skill and ability as a martial artist. Anatomy and physiology is a layered subject that demands countless hours of study to begin to grasp. My sparring matches became a game of striking certain muscles on the body and seeing my partner’s reaction. Combative techniques took on a whole new life and they still do because of this training. Its a dynamic of what I do that I still hold very close and when I’m training I can almost hear my massage instructors voice as mush as my Kempo instructors voice as move through the movements. Massage therapy takes a lot of criticism as being a luxury. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t see a masseuse and I don’t go to a massage parlor as those are sleazy terms and they are to be avoided. As a martial artist I know that if I didn’t go to a massage therapist I would have all sorts of issues. For instance, my therapist worked out my torn hamstring a couple years ago that would still be plaguing me to this day. Scar tissue can be an unforgiving monster. Naysayers might disagree, but I gave up on listening to naysayers a long time ago. Migraines, no problem. Backache, bring it! Upper trap or shoulder muscle issue and pain, relief all day long. Don’t get me wrong, some of these problems may take a few to several visits. Sometimes you need other modalities. The long and short of it is, as the guy who makes sort of a living as a being active my massage therapist knocks this stuff out and makes being active into my middle age a joy. She’s got good massage kung fu! Pam Bilyeu is THE massage therapist in this area. Specializing in deep tissue and as far as I’m concerned, you haven’t experienced deep tissue until you’ve seen her. But don’t take my word for it. Pam’s number is 270-535-4419. If its a muscle issue…she’s got it. If its a joint issue, a chiropractor might be in order. Again, forget the naysayers. If you’ve ever had a tilted sacrum, you know what I’m talking about. If your neck or your knee is out of alignment(yes, that’s also a thing), your lifestyle has pushed the “on hold” button and it may be time to go. My chiropractor also helped me work through the joint issues a torn hamstring will inflict. Everything’s connected!!! Your muscles will pull and tug on your joints and contract into a position over time that affect how you move. Affected movement creates tension. Tension can create discomfort. My guy for chiropractic care is Dr. Poe 270-726-4600. He’s very accommodating as a chiropractor and straight up with you concerning your joints and how they affect the rest of your body.

In closing, self care is a big deal. I’m not saying that the modalities listed above will cure everything going on with you. BUT, they are proactive ways to deal with certain health issues. Such a novelty to find relief and feel good at the same time!!! I hope this helps some of you as it has helped me and My Shaolin Kempo.

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