How Martial Arts Can Destroy And Then Rescue Your Life

man silhouette doing wushu poses on the beach at sunrise

It was around years ago I contracted Glandular Fever which then resulted in me being diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a serious and debilitating illness that can last for years, and sometimes for life.

Symptoms of CFS/ME include overwhelming exhaustion, both physical and cognitive, memory and concentration impairment, an intense ‘flu like feeling, muscle pain, sleep disturbance, headaches, disturbance of balance and other symptoms.

There is no effective treatment for CFS/ME. The main symptoms of CFS/ME are persistent profound weakness, extreme tiredness after any form of exertion, disrupted sleep, pain and neurological and cognitive (thought related) problems. The symptoms include: * Orthostatic hypotension (a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up) * Orthostatic tachycardia (increased heart rate when you stand up) * Palpitations * Shortness of breath with exertion * Muscle twitching * Sensitivity to light, touch and sound * Nausea * Gastrointestinal and urinary problems * Sore throat and tender lymph nodes * Marked weight change – extreme loss or gain * Not coping with temperature changes.

This had a devastating effect upon me. I went from being an uber-fit, active young man to an aching, fatigued energy-less shell of my former self. As you can see this would and still does to some effect, have an impact on my training and capacity. Exercise is often a problem for people with CFS because physical activity may worsen their symptoms. As time passes you feel a little better and attempt regular exercise. However, such activity can cause a relapse of symptoms.

Around this time my mother passed away from a terrible battle with Cancer. I was shattered both inside and out. I went on to develop Bi-Polar Depression. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.

Caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. Bipolar Disorder is a lifetime illness. This had a devastating effect on not only my training but my family, and it could have destroyed my marriage had I not been urged to seek out help. It almost destroyed me. I have seen the darkness of myself and it frightened me. Thoughts of ending it were never far from my mind and yes, I did attempt act upon same at various points within the battle.

They say trouble always comes in three’s …. Well it did for me as due to the lack of energy and activity from the Chronic Fatigue and depressive state of being, I went onto be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. I became a “Test Case”, the first person to develop Type II Diabetes arising from the medication known as Zyprexa that I was on for my Depression.

I was a mess!

There was nowhere for me to go. For a time, I wallowed in self-pity.

It was then that I made a decision that would be life-changing.

Ron Goninan with the Fujian Green Fighting Lion”

I had spent so much of my life within the Martial Arts that it dominated my entire life and being. My waking and sleeping thoughts were based in the Martial Way and this was destroying me as I was no longer the super-active martial artist I used to be. I made many mistakes against myself and others. I became a controversial figure within the arts, I sought out recognition, ranks … anything that would boost my lack of belief in myself not knowing that I was doing myself more damage than good.

Ultimately, my ego and self-worth was crushed by my own actions!

I decided to let go of the perceptions and belief-systems of others, to let go of the venom spewed forth by my critics (I have but a few!)

I let I decided to let go of my self-ego. I decided to breathe, relax, breathe and let things simply “Be”.

This was to be the turning point in my life.

By learning to simply “Be” and to let the arts teach me the lesson I had yet to learn I found a whole new appreciation for the Martial Arts. For the first time I saw the arts as they truly were and meant to be. I’m not talking about the largely commercial way seen today but the inherent spirit and expression of the essence of the Martial Arts. I allowed the arts to work within me naturally.

By ‘letting go’ I allowed my art of White Crane Gongfu to enter and guide me with a natural, internal “gentle hand”.

Jìnqiānshì (“Advanced Divine Piercing Hand”) is used to attack the nerves, Blood Gates (Pulse Points) and anatomical weak points of the Head and neck region

I sought out Traditional Chinese Medicine to compliment this new pathway. Therapies such as Energetics Harmonics, Shiatsu, Acupressure, Reiki and I started using Chinese traditional herbs including Monk Wine (from a 500 year old recipe given to me by one of my Chinese mentors). Qigong became a daily practice.

I studied the classics including the rare White Crane Wu Bei Zhi (“Bubishi”). My prized copy has the words , , Xīn, xīn, xīn ~ “Mind, mind, mind”; , , Sōng, sōng, song ~ “Relax, relax, relax” written on this inside page. These interesting words were written on the inside cover page of the White Crane Wu Bei Zhi Text given to Master Huang Xingxian by his White Crane Master, Xie Zhongxian.

The Chinese etymology means:

1/. “Relax the mind and relax the body the core / the middle, center or inside”.

2/. “Relax the Mind/Heart / intention”.

3/. “Relax and let go of the Deep Mind, emptying from the centre outwards”.

Ron Goninan with one of his 10 personal copies of the Wu Bei Zhi 武備志

As a result, I started to feel better, more energized and focused then I had for a very long time. My feelings towards the Fighting Arts underwent a massive change. No longer was I the rigid, static, un-natural Martial Artist I had once been. By letting go and letting myself simply “Be” I learned not to strive unnecessarily, to force my movements but to let them follow simple yet practical and natural body motions. The aches and pains whilst not leaving me entirely were not present when I trained anymore.

My Mental focus improved as did my teaching of others. Of more importance my relationships with my wife and family improved.

I learned to love life again, to stress less ….. eventually giving up on 24 years of Front-Line security work to walk the way of the minimalist, owning less, investing in less gave me more energy, time and quality of life.

After 43 years within the Martial Arts I found that it is better to walk your own path than to follow the crowd.

After 43 years within the Martial Arts I found the Martial Arts within me.

About the Author:

Ron Goninan is an old, chubby, thinning grey haired guy of little knowledge and even less skill! He operates the International White Crane Gongfu Association headed in Australia whose aim is to promote original White Crane Gongfu to the world.

The IWCA Web Site is at www.whitecrane-gongfu.com and he can be contacted by email at: shifu@whitecrane-gongfu.com


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