Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pro-Active Health


s a health and safety consultant, I initially make an assessment of the facility I’m visiting and – most importantly – get a sense of the employees’ needs.

That  always involves a tour with lots of questions and plenty taking of notes.

Even though I come from the outside, I try to act as a team player so the suggestions that I come up with fit right in with the existing business culture.

On one of my first tours, my liaison person from HR stopped by a locker.

“That’s our stash…for the week.”

She pointed to a couple of shelves filled with over-the-counter pain and headache remedies. I was shocked.

Real martial arts training, the “old school” kind, develops a type of streamlined, controlled aggression. We tend to be aggressive toward our opponent(s) – and pro-active when it comes to managing our own health.


In Judo or Jiu Jitsu, for example, it’s rare not to be thrown a few hundred times a week. Once you land on the mats, you have a choice…lie there until the lights go out and the last person leaving locks the door to the Dojo…or get up (and be thrown again).

Basically, there are two approaches when it comes to one’s own health…passive and pro-active.

In martial arts training –as well as in many sports – you develop a fine sensitivity to your own body. In a way, your body ends up talking to you –

The Back – “I hurt. Try that stuff you did last week…the stretches that seem to work. We’ve got to train again tomorrow, and I’ve got to be in shape!”

Shoulder – “I feel trouble coming on with my rotator cuff. Let’s work the acu-points as usual, do a few massages, plus some very light stretches tomorrow morning…and revise our training method for the next week until I can build myself back up.”

Knee – “Fix me now or it will only get worse. Release the pressure on the IT band the way you always do and let’s check your stance alignment to see whether  that’s the source of the  problem.

In the “war art” school of martial arts, we act toward our health as if we’re out in the field alone. In order to be able to continue fighting, we have to heal ourselves – and we have to get at it right away!

We see this attitude more and more in modern medicine. Shoulder, knee or  back surgery?…get mobile as quickly as possible. An illness? Assess and then attack.

After my little peek at the locker, it dawned on me why they wanted me at the facility. Too many years had been spent in the passive mode.  Management wanted a change from “I’m suffering from a headache…better grab some pills and rest” to “I’m going to do these acu-points and massages right away and then I’m going to find out why these headaches are happening to me and fix the problem!”

Pro-active health never means avoiding a doctor. It means doing everything you can to fix the problem, as soon as possible. And that often involves a partnership with doctors where both partners work together to come up with a solution.


  1. This is a really important article. Illness is the workplace in one of the biggest and most expensive obstacles facing industry…. absenteeism due to physical health, anxiety, body image, basic mobility… account for more that 14$ million dollars in workplace expenditures.. annually. Preventative care is the key, I think, with sometimes, really small changes making huge gains toward healthier workplace cultures. Martial arts outcomes like a solid stance, good posture, eye contact do increase physical health, leading to fewer health related expenditures, and they have other outcomes…like increased productivity, better sales ratios.. more effective negotiations. So it’s a win win. Corporate wellness strategies have a lot to learn from the martial arts.

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! Your comments remind me of the very reasons why Sensei Bev Leonard and I from Industress were hired by major corporations in the first place - to change the culture of perception employees have about their own health from passive to active. That type of change always makes a huge difference. In fact in one plant, we were partially responsible for bringing about one million accident free hours in the workplace!
      We've seen folks who have had plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, etc. etc. for years. All it took was a round of martial arts massages, pressure points and stretches. In one case, I showed pressure points and massage to a woman scheduled for carpal tunnel surgery. I saw her again two weeks later. She had cancelled the surgery. Then I did some ergo work on her work station, and that was it. No more carpal tunnel problems. I showed some Chi Gung energy work to someone who couldn't close his hands because they were so full of arthritis. Guess what happened? He now closes his hands.

      Sorry to go on about this but you've touched a nerve. (I better go do some martial arts calming exercises!).


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