Tomorrow, at 08:30, I’ll be making my way to a local hospital to undergo a 3rd arthroscopic reconstruction of my left knee. The last one I had was about 18 years ago, which repaired the ligament originally torn in 1986.

I was entered into a martial arts tournament and after spending hours staying loose and ready, they called my ring and I was paired with an opponent. This dude had a great burst off the line and from the “Hajime!”, he was laying a side kick into me which I caught on my block. A hard charger, the momentum of his kick sent me sprawling. Though it caught me somewhat unaware, I had dealt with such an attack many times. When we squared off again, I had a few different things rushing through my mind. As he burst again, I let fly a roundhouse kick to his head which caught him perfectly. Unfortunately for me, his momentum again kept coming and my foot got hung up on his shoulder just enough to jam my supporting leg down into the carpet. My knee couldn’t handle the torque and it popped to the nausea of everyone within earshot. I flopped around a bit trying to overcome the admonitions of the judges who were frantically trying to make me lie still. Good idea except that my leg was bent underneath me. Once I pushed them out of the way, I was able to straighten the leg and breathe easy. It didn’t hurt then. I tried to stand on it, but it wasn’t to be. I had to forfeit and sit with a bag of ice on the balloon my knee had become.

Naturally, I had to sit and watch. I wanted to see if my opponent, to whom I bore no malice whatsoever, would prevail. To lose the first round to a guy who will just go on to lose the next round just doesn’t do. He went two more rounds before elimination and just missed placing. I could have beaten him, though. (What else can I say?)

For the uninitiated, in this type of tournament, you have usually two minutes to outscore you opponent or reach whatever the rules say is the limit. In this one I believe it was three points with any score only counting as one point. There is a judge in at least three, if not all four corners with a center referee who can break ties. You spar with your opponent until one lands a legit technique, and the fight is stopped. If you have at least two judges who see the same technique score, a point is awarded and the fight resumes. It’s a light contact event, and control is important, though some fine shots can be administered to the body without penalty. I wasn’t a black belt so there was a no contact rule for the face area, and only light contact to the head, and moderate to the body. This is subjective depending on the judges and the apparent skill level of the participants. Excessive contact results in the victim getting the point, and continued excessive contact results in disqualification. The winner advances to the next round. The first Karate Kid movie represented this basic tourney system fairly well, but by the time of that movie, hand and foot pads were required, and now headgear is also mandatory.

Anyhow, I tore the ACL in my left kneed and some cartilage as well. The arthroscope was still fairly new and they didn’t do a whole lot with it. They removed the torn cartilage, but that was the extent of it. To do more would have required opening the knee as in days of old and six months in a cast. A few years later, I tore the ligament the rest of the way and by then they were able to deal.

Now, I’m not sure what is going on. The pain in my knee came about rather gradually and I couldn’t point to any one incident to explain it. The MRI was inhibited by the assorted screws and staples still in my knee from the last surgery (which they should be able to remove tomorrow), so they couldn’t get a good look. Overall, it doesn’t seem anywhere near as dibilitating as before, but crank it the right way and I’m forced to spew expletives.

My main concern is recovery time. Bowling season begins around Labor Day and there are a lot of people who have my money. I intend to get it all back as well as a great deal of theirs. Now, my time to practice and get in game shape is limited. Fotunately, the knee won’t affect my beer consumption. And of course, I need to get back into healthy shape as well, and resume my ju jutsu training. All in all, the next month and a half will be intense. Wish me luck.