Joel's ACL Kung Fu Tournament

by Joel
(Brooklyn, NY USA )

Hi All,

Thanks for reading this.

I'm a 33 y/o male and have trained in martial arts for about 17 years (Northern Eagle Claw Kung Fu) so my daily routine often involves gymnastics, sparring, lots of awkward movements.

I was training for for a tournament (continuous fighting division) about two weeks ago and of course after maxing myself self out, I decided to try just a couple more kicks to make sure I had some "surprise" techniques in case I needed them during the competition. Worst mistake I could possibly have made ;)

I rarely use jump/spinning kicks in actual combat, but I wanted to practice it with a heavy bag so i would be used to the feeling of actually kicking something with that technique. Anyway, I landed horrible and completely tore my ACL off the bone. I knew I was finished even though I've never had this kind of injury before. My whole life for the next 12 months kind of flashed in front of my eyes as I was lying on the gym floor.

It's definitely been an interesting couple of weeks of learning about my injury, questioning doctors and questioning myself. It's amazing how everything can dramatically change so quickly.

I've already been to one doctor who immediately pushed an allograft on me, but his answers were pretty short and dismissive when i asked about other options. I left with an appointment for surgery, but a very uneasy feeling in my stomach about getting involved with this doc.

So I immediately hit the boards/chat rooms/ and info resource and decide to continue speaking to different doctors for a 2nd and 3rd opinion. I have an appointment tomorrow with a well recommended knee specialist and I feel so much better about not moving forward with the allograft. The auto patella just makes more sense for my needs.

Unfortunately my original doc. did not advise me to begin working on my ROM (in fact he told me to stay on crutches 9 days after the injury...not good!!!) so I'm not sure if I will be able to schedule surgery soon or have to do some PT to achieve maximum ROM.

I guess I'll know tomorrow what to do.

In the meantime I get to go (Sat.) to the tournament anyway and support my friends which is cool and hopefully I will be able to recover from this well and get back to training.

Thanks for reading this!

Reading about the experiences of others has been such a huge help.



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May 23, 2010
northern kungfu
by: Char Musillo

I have been doing martial arts for 20 years. Lots of different styles, but mainly northern mantis kungfu. I just partially tore my ACL snowboarding and doctors told me I should never do martial arts again or it will tear the rest of the way. I am thinking about just having surgery. So far I have been doing a lot of squats and running to restrengthen the leg and have no problems with that. I just have absolutely no flexibility or range in motion and it really sucks. Miss the rush of some intense kungfu forms. Can't even think about doing martial arts and I teach for a hobbie and have several students. Online doing research into options of quickest way to recovery. Curious how long it takes you to get back your ROM and back to kungfu. I dont think any exercise or sport can be harder to return to then nortern kungfu after a torn ACL. I also use to do a lot of yoga. The worse part is the same time I tore the ACL I seperated the AC joint in my shoulder, so I can't even lift weights or practice upper body kungfu. If nothing else I might switch over to Wingchun and go back to doing Tai Chi (which I did for a year when I got a bad case of tendonitus in my knees a decade ago). Anyways good luck!

Feb 19, 2009
Thanks Stacy!
by: Joel

Wow week post op... I remember those days ;)

Hang in there!

I had my surgery on 9/22 so I'm just about up to the 5 month mark and things are going really well!

I also opted for the auotgraft in the end and I think it was the best decision I could have made. Yes, it takes a little longer to heal, but in the end, my leg should be just fine and ready for more abuse ;)

Kidding... I take really good care of that sort of thing and think twice about flinging my body around with wild abandon. I haven't gotten back to training, but I'm in the gym every day and finally jogging again which feels great. I should be getting back into things soon though and by late spring/summer I'll be back to my jump self.

Just make sure to really be consistent when doing your PT Stacey. Getting the ROM back is pretty painful, but after a while it becomes one of those "good pains" because you'll know that you are making progress.

Good luck with your recovery!

- Joel

Feb 19, 2009
Good luck
by: Stacy

Hi Joel-I am also a martial artist (14 years) who tore my ACL and my meniscus in a sparring round. No jumping kick here--beautiful roundhouse to the head. Stepped down in a long stance and pivoted to get out of range. I was trying out the new sparring shoes that are all the rage, but was not liking them--a bit too much grip on the matt, if you know what I mean. Well, the pivot was my downfall--I heard three distinct snaps, and here I am now.

I chose the autograft, rather than an allograft. The doc I had said that a hamstring replacement would leave me noticeably weaker on that side, but that a patellar would leave me with a more painful rehab. I chose not to do allograft because all the research I did mentioned that to keep the allograft free of disease, it was freeze-dried, which made it weaker. I didn't want a weak replacement, so I chose patellar.

Wish I could tell you how my story ends, but I am only one week post-op at the moment. Pain, swelling, but I do have some range of movement back--I can bend my knee--still braced up--about 20 degrees (my estimation, geometry may be off). I can also tighten the quad, but I feel I have no strength yet. No weight bearing at this time--much too tender at the moment.

Good luck with your surgery!

Sep 19, 2008
Good Luck!
by: Bart - SII

Good luck with your upcoming appointments and your recovery. You are motivated to get better, so you will do well.


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