Geraldine R. Borromeo
I broke my right kneecap while walking out the door of a mall. I did not twist my ankle or step on anything that could have caused my injury. My right kneecap just suddenly gave way and if it were not for the lady guard who was right at the door as I fell, I would fallen headlong unto the pavement.
As I tried to walk towards the nearest chair with the guard supporting me on my right side, my kneecap was excruciatingly painful with every step I took. I called my husband, Sifu Vince, and he brought me straight to the National Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
After an x-ray and a diagnostics procedure by the attending orthopedic doctor, my right leg was wrapped in a removable steel cast. I was ordered to stay home for two months in that cast, with permission to remove it only during bath time while sitting on a chair.
The tendons that cushioned my kneecap had given way and I needed to rest it from any pressure whatsoever if recovery was to begin. Two months later, I was given permission to remove the cast and begin rehabilitation.
I went through several knee exercises on my back at first then as I progressed a few weeks later, I could sit while doing the exercises. Finally, I could exercise my knees while standing up until I was declared free of the rehabilitation center. At that point, I was just ordered to continue the exercises at home.
While the rehabilitation process literally got me back on my knees, standing still for more than a few minutes at a time proved difficult for me. I would complain to my husband, Sifu Vince, that I needed a chair in the bathroom when I would shampoo and condition my hair as I could not stand for too long. Even while washing my face and brushing my teeth, standing in place was a challenge for my knees that would throb with the all so familiar ache.
Sifu Vince had an instant answer to my complaints and he got me standing up right away to teach me the horse stance. The name of the stance did not appeal to me as it conjured up images of a sore leg and buttocks after a horse ride.
Sifu Vince had me stand with my legs apart with my feet flat on the ground and aligned with each other. At first he let me stand with legs just shoulder width apart; then he told me to bend my knees at a slight angle; tuck in my tailbone; and move my upper body slightly forward as if I was leaning. All along I was told to maintain my head in an upright position as if it were a marionette being pulled by a string from the ceiling.
Sifu Vince told me to stay in that position for as long as I can, then rest for a while and get back on the horse stance longer each time. I was very reluctant, yet I was also very desperate so I followed the routine until he approved my stance.
For the past five years I have used this stance whenever I put on make-up, brush my teeth, shampoo and condition, wash my face, wash the dishes, prep ingredients for cooking, line-up in the bank and just about any activity that requires standing still for more than a few minutes.
My knees don’t ache anymore when I stand for a long time for as long as I am on the horse stance. I no longer feel weakness in my knees as I no longer stress it with prolonged pressure while standing.
The wonders of kung fu has helped me cope with my knee injury and no wonder it has. Sifu Vince explains that the horse stance is known for stability during a fight as it provides balance even if the body is in motion.
Bending the knees is an automatic reflex when the body’s balance is threatened. Thus, the horse stance, in kung-fu, in the kitchen and the vanity room has proved a lifeline for me after a knee injury.
In addition, my thigh muscles have strengthened from the countless horse stances daily; the core muscles in my tummy automatically clenche when I am on the horse stance, trimming my belly; and, my buttocks have firmed from endlessly tucking my tailbone.
Today, the horse stance is part of my everyday life. Even when I am on the train waiting to get to my stop,or waiting for a cashier to tally my tab, I am on the horse stance, with legs only slightly apart and tailbone tucked only so slightly, conspicuously doing kung-fu undercover.