“Lessons from a torn rotator cuff,” by Brandon Clapp

The time it takes to heal from an injury can be difficult and trying, especially if it affects your normal training routine.

This isn’t to say that change can’t be a good thing; in fact, it’s a time for research and reflection. After I realized I was injured, my attendance at my dojoI became quite erratic. At first, I would argue that this has taken a toll on me. I’ve always been one of the first to class, always ready to help, or have a thought provoking conversation with Sensei.

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” -Ellen Glasgow

I think this is an interesting quote from a personal standpoint. This was definitely my mindset once I finally admitted to myself that I was seriously injured. I found myself wondering how I would come back from such an injury. In these rough economic times, I–like many of my peers in the 20-29 age group–don’t have health insurance. So getting a professional’s opinion or some other sort of medical treatment would cost me more than I’m wiling to spend out of pocket right now. For this type of rotatory cuff injury, there is a surgery that can be performed, but I’ve heard conflicting results about the success and lasting effects of that procedure. This is especially true because my shoulder injury is an old one that I have been ignoring for three to four years now, hoping that it will heal on its own.

So, with these factors weighing on my mind, I realized that to get better, it would be up to me. I would need to pull myself from physical training for a bit and allow myself to heal. This decision was not made easily, in fact, I spent a long time continuing to train. I would train only on the left side of the body letting everyone know about my injury. It seemed like a good idea at first, but over time I wold start to feel better and allow myself to train a bit harder than I should. I also noticed that with ukemi, I would still feel the arm taking more stress than it should. Ultimately, after six months of training like this I noticed my arm becoming weaker, not stronger. After much consideration, I decided to pull myself from our weekly training I always look forward to.

Click here to read “Lessons from a torn rotator cuff”


  1. I completely agree that the main diffrence with “Aiki” is the stress on the joints and muscles while being uke, especially practicing with someone with lots of experience. I have my arm in a sling because I fell and damaged rotator cuff joint. Trust me, nothing funny about that, but I must say Aikido is more effective that straight barraging someone with punches and attacks because the pain you can inflict, just in sparring alone, can hurt worse that any punch could. And if this is true in sparring, I think the same can be said in a real-time situation defending your self. This stuff works and I am not lying.

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