Wednesday, 6 May 2015


I found out in 2002 that my left knee was bereft of its anterior crusciate ligament. I was doing kickboxing and fighting with the instructor of the club. I tried to pivot on the left leg and instead of using the ball of my foot I kept it flat, meaning a noise like a lettuce being hacked with a steak knife reverberated through my body. I limped off to the side and had a knee the size of a grapefruit for about a week.

In 2004 I went for an operation at a hospital in London and the consultant surgeon (a bloke I'd only seen at a distance up to that point) turned up in his gold watch and Saville Row suit and manipulated my leg. After asking that old chestnut "Does this hurt?" a few times, he then pronounced that my leg was perfectly healthy, I didn't need surgery and to go home.

Happily I skipped home, smiling like a spoiled child on Xmas morning, as I naively believed the ACL had somehow grown back of its own accord.

It turned out that because I was doing a shit load of cycling in London, the knee had compensated for the missing ligament by growing lots of muscle and the leg was stable enough to not warrant the operation

Basically, that prick of a doctor was saving a a few quid.

Years later and the issue turned up to haunt me. I was rejected without interview for both the Postal & Courier Regiment of the Logistics Corp of the British Army and the RAF Reserves for this. As soon as my medical history was seen, they didn't want to know. The TA major in charge of recruitment spoke to me at length on the phone and said "Once you're in, you can get as injured as you want... but if they let you in with an existing injury you might sue them...and they don't want that."

I can't go jogging because the next day the knee is sore and swollen. A physio I go to occasionally said not to run but cycle instead and compared my knee to tectonic plates below San Franciso. They grind together and occasionally that causes issues on the surface.

In Krav Maga the knee has proved to be a nuisance. If I grade then it's swollen like a bastard but I have learned to adapt by taking painkillers before and after (including anti inflammatory pills like Diclofenac) and also wearing not one but TWO knee braces (a medical one and a Poundland blue/black thingy). This has meant the knee is manageable in the short term BUT my flexibility is fucking awful in my lower body and kicks from my left leg can be like Bambi trying to stand up, especially if I'm tired. I can't kneel on my heels as it is beyond painful.

It's basically kind of sucky.

Recently I went to a doctor who referred me to hospital, who sent me for an MRI scan who then called me in to see a nurse in the Fracture Clinic. She said the knee can be repaired, the operation waiting time is a maximum of 15 weeks and I will be discharged the same day. The knee will then be healthy and I can go jogging, do yoga like a boss and have the flexibility I've missed for 13 years.

However there's a downside.

When I get this done I will be out of training of ANY variety, be it Krav Maga, cardio or yoga...from between 6 to 12 months. The nurse specifically said the timeline would be:

2 weeks complete rest. 6 weeks no driving. 6 to 12 months no combat or training.

I failed P5 in March of this year and the next grading is in October. I've recently read about a discipline called Ghost Fighter, which maximises ability to hit, while minimising the chance of being hit back. That's right up my alley and I will attend my "taster" class next Monday to see if I like it. I've kept my cardio up to speed to deal with the abject misery that is the sparring of a P5 grading (last time we did 7 rounds of 2 minutes, followed by 10 rounds of 4 against 1) and have Wayne Hubball's Adrenaline coming up on June 6th.

Problem is that the hospital have offered me surgery and will only postpone for 6 months. That means I can go on my summer holiday from June to July for 4 weeks but I will have to then ask to go back on the waiting list...or lose my place completely. The operation will happen by September so if I have it I will miss my P5 resit.

Thing is... there are a multitude of factors FOR doing this and a lot less for not. If I get my knee repaired I will (later) be stronger, fitter and have more endurance. My kicking from the left leg will be more powerful and I will be able to fight without worrying if my knee will go "click" at the wrong moment. I will have to wait until at least March 2016 for my P5 exam, remembering that I passed my P4 in March 2014.

Ultimately it's a question of priorities. I know that I need to be fully fit for a grading and for training and by being patient I can come back and aspire to G level and beyond. The brief satisfaction of getting my five bar patch with repairs pending, will not happen.

There's a time to be patient.

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