Happy New Year, everyone!  In the spirit of this joyful holiday, I offer three bruise stories for your entertainment and amusement.

black eye 2015 Joelle White
Bruises are fun!!!

Here’s my favorite bruise story from when I trained as a teen.  I was sparring and ran my face right into my opponent’s fist.  This resulted in a spectacular black eye.  The guy apologized profusely both to me and my father.  I laughed so hard at my sparring partner – the guy was apologizing to my Dad for something that was my fault, carrying on as if my Dad would tear him apart even though he outranked Dad considerably.  I didn’t even feel pain because I was laughing too hard.  Three days later, when the shiner was at the peak of its color, was school picture day.  Yeah.  I actually did manage to pull it off with some heavy duty makeup, and the photography lab did their magic with their airbrushes too.

Here’s three more recent bruise stories for you.

A couple of months ago, the weather was warm enough to allow me to wear a cute 3/4 sleeve cranberry-colored blouse I’d just bought.  At the last minute before I left, I saw a livid bruise on my right forearm.  There wasn’t time to change to a blouse with longer sleeves.  During the church service, I sang in choir.  Front row.  Dead center.  Holding up a music folder.  Everyone in the small church saw that big purple, blue, black, yellow, and green splodge against my pale skin.  Oh golly.  It’s a good thing everyone knows I’m not being abused by my husband – I’m taking Karate.  But they don’t have to know that bruise was in the wrong spot on my arm.  The bruise should have been lower down for the block I was using.  For that matter, I should’ve either dodged, caught the kick and swept, or used a block better suited for use against a kick to my upper midsection.  What the congregation doesn’t know won’t hurt them 😉

A few days later, Sensei gave us the option of sparring or continuing to work on kata.  I chose sparring because class time is limited and I can work on kata on my own.  Only three of us chose sparring, so Sensei himself made a fourth.  I’d never sparred with a black belt before.  Sensei and I bowed to each other.  I fought down nerves and launched an attack – or that was the idea, anyway.  WHOOMP!  Sensei landed a kick to my gut.  I felt it but didn’t think much of it.  A few moments later I went for Sensei again – WHOOMP!  Another kick to my gut.  I called a halt and asked what I was doing wrong.  Sensei spent a few minutes coaching me, then it was the end of class.  I didn’t think I’d been hit hard – it didn’t hurt much and I hadn’t had the wind knocked out of me!  But next day in the locker room before swimming I discovered a deep bruise.  Fortunately the bruise was covered by my swimsuit.  Every time I felt that little ache throughout that weekend, I reminded myself of what I’d learned when Sensei coached me.

Earlier this week I discovered four little bruises just above my ankle.  No doubt these were from four human fingers.   I was sparring with a tall guy who outranks me and he caught my kick.  Message received – speed those legs up!  I had no idea I’d been bruised while hopping around on one leg – in fact, I was laughing at the time.  I’m kinda proud of those bruises because we were the only ones actually doing something before class (my daughter was sick, otherwise she’d have gleefully asked to have a turn).

This is karate, not knitting.


If I get hurt, I try not to think much about the other person or to stew about what he or she did to me.  I think about what I could have done differently.  I think about how badly I could get hurt in a fight for survival.  Those thoughts put bruises in perspective in a hurry!  I remind myself that I am building skills and next time I’ll hopefully do better.  Bruises eventually fade, but the lessons stay.

Please pass the arnica gel while you share your favorite bruise stories…

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

10 thoughts on “Bruises”

  1. HA! Love your attitude, Jo.

    Like you say, bruises are like temporary notebooks to remind you of what you need to work on. They’re also badges of honor!

    No more makeup–wear them proudly! 🙂 OSU!

    1. Ossu! [bow]

      Thank you for the compliment! My skin is really pale, especially in winter, so my “badges of honor” really stand out 😉


  2. This was a pretty timely post for me. I bruise easily at the best of times. Paired with the fact that I am somewhat incoordinated I generally look a little black and blue……all that has changed since I started karate 10 or so months ago. Now I always have some war wounds – I even took pictures of some of mine as they were impressive.

    I like my bruises – they are kind of like love bites……I mean I got them while enjoying myself and they remind me of the fun I had training and like you say often remind me of what I should have done better. Like DOMS although DOMS is more an insistent reminder of hard work!

    Prime example were my last 2 weeks of training last year at my regular club. Second last week was grading and following grading I was invited to stay back for an hour of kumite with 2 black belts (including the Sensei) and a rather heavy / heavy handed black belt…..all male (as generally happens). We did rotational sparring and I got a few good ones. Some from the green belt who could do with pulling his punches (although I did learn how to get out the way and tire him out by giving him a run around – good strategy for him) but mostly from my falling / landing badly when my Sensei swept / threw me. I jokingly messaged him a picture of my wrists / hands later that day saying that I needed to learn how to fall without using my hands (or not fall). He promptly offered to spend our last class going through falls / break falls / throws etc.

    Our last class was at the beach. It was the best class ever and the most useful. Again I was the only woman but I did much better with grappling / throwing than regular sparring and I learned to break fall without using my hands. Unfortunately my forward falls are not great…….I think I need to build more strength……I ended up with 2 extremely large bruises on my knees from falling on them when attempting to sprawl. I also got some rather amusing bruises (grab marks) on my limbs from grappling. The funny part was that 4 days after that class I was heading overseas to a wedding. One where I had to wear a summer sleeveless dress at my knees……..fortunately by the day of the wedding I was relatively bruise free but it did require the use of longish shorts for the first part of the trip!

      1. Rach, you’re really dedicated! And lucky – I’d much rather spar with a few black and green belts and get my tush thoroughly whipped than deal with an overflowing toilet. I’d volunteered to take care of the ladies’ room during Gasshuku, and wouldn’t you know it, my first act at my new rank was to clean up the mess. That’s one way to stay humble, LOL!

  3. I can probably handle the plumbing too (although yet to attend a gasshuku – looking forward to one in a few months) but I am with you on preferring sparring with anyone to….. pretty much anything actually. I am the go to fix it person in our house…..where I was staying for the wedding (with the groom’s immediate and extended family) I had to change the smoke alarm battery the first day and relight the hot water the last night. Back to reality today – my own little family. The break was nice but I did miss them…..although between you and me I have missed training more. One club starts again next week though 🙂 YAY…..I wonder if I can go 3 x in one week…….I doubt I will stay bruise free though.

    1. LOL, Rach, you’re just like my daughter when it comes to sparring. Me, I gravitate towards kata. I’ve got a pretty good thing going with my husband – he fixes computer stuff, I fix house stuff. I hear you about missing training 😉 3x in one week sounds like bare minimum to me 🙂 Gasshuku is tons of fun, but do build up your endurance before you go 🙂 All the best!

  4. I wish I could go x3 per week regularly. Our club only train once a week (for 3 hours though) but the sister dojo train x3 per week (of which I can usually get to one easily and regularly). It’s a long way away though and the other 2 classes are on days I work so it is harder to get there 🙁 Also they do kata / bunkai at the other 2 classes….which is fine….I like kata but it’s confusing learning the kata they do (shito ryu) when I am trying to get a handle on the goju ryu kata I am learning for my gradings….so generally I go to the kumite class at the other club in which there is more to learn and more overlap (and I get insights into all the styles strategies – useful in tournaments)……which style do you train in? My husband works in IT and (resentfully at home) fixes IT issues while I change globes / batteries and fix broken things. I also cook while he cleans… to your strengths I say! Works in kumite too……I am fitter than a lot of my training mates (even though I am twice most of their age) so have learned to win I need to tire them out and just keep fighting / never give up / give in (lucky I am stubborn)!!

    1. Yike – I’d have a hard time juggling styles, you’re one brave lady! I used to train in Hayashi-ha Shito-ryu, currently studying Shindo Jinen-ryu. I still occasionally lapse into the blocks I learned long ago, but that’s getting better over time. Wear them out doesn’t work with any of my sparring partners, not even the young guy who has just come back to Karate. He was dripping with sweat and breathing hard a couple weeks ago when we were sparring before class, but when I suggested a break, he wanted to keep going. He has more skill, I have more endurance, but it won’t be long before he has more endurance 😉

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