How Osteoarthritis Changed My Life

I began my training in Karate and Jujitsu at a young age. After years of hard practice, guided by well-intentioned instructors, I was left with two things. First, I had a strong feeling that my train missing an element of “realness” that I just could not put my finger on. Second, I had developed osteoarthritis in my right wrist most likely as a result of practicing wrist locks and other submission techniques. The arthritis was bad enough that a hand surgeon told me to stop doing pushups and remove all stressors on my wrist. He suggested sawing my ulna in half and realigning the bone. This “cure” seemed pretty extreme, and I had no desire to go under the knife so I looked for a second opinion.

I tried naturopathic medicine, prilocaine injections and a host of other treatments. They all seemed to keep my wrist from getting worse but nothing made it better. This is when I met Sifu Gregory Fong. The day I went to watch Sifu Fong’s class, he moved in a way I had never seen before, and at the time, could not understand. I wanted to train with him but was unsure if my wrist could handle it. Sifu Fong was confident he could help me. He had a sincerity and clear intention that made me trust him.

One of the first exercises I was given was to hold a push position on my knuckles. The pain in my wrist was so bad that I would crumble within 10 seconds. Sifu Fong encouraged me to do what could and explained that this, along with the Zhan Zhuang practice, would slowly build up the muscles around my joints and help create a space where the bone was grinding through the cartage. I practiced this every day and quickly began to get results. Within one year of training my strength and overall energy had greatly improved and the symptoms of my osteoarthritis were drastically diminished.

In two years of training I was a different person. My wrist was stronger than it had ever been, and I no longer had any pain. I was able to hold a pushup position for 20 minutes at a time and could easily complete 100 pushups in a single set. My skill as a martial artist also improved as a result of Sifu Fong’s classes. That sense of “realness” that I had been lacking is now present. My speed and power has improved, but more importantly my mindset is different. It was not a special set of techniques or some secret whispered in the back of the class room that redefined martial arts for me. Instead, it was learning to be in my body, to move with my intention and most of all to be clear about what I am doing. Sifu Fong taught me what it means to move with my mind and body in unity. Seemingly esoteric, this teaching is very real and concrete.

With decades of teaching experience and a wealth of knowledge, he communicates in a way that is easy for the average person to understand. It was about 13 years ago when I met Sifu Fong and through his influence I have dedicated my life to Chinese Medicine and Martial Arts. Today I am an Acupuncturist, Herbalist, and Taiji instructor. I truly believe without Sifu Gregory Fong I would be none of these things. He started me on a journey that I will continue for the rest of my life, and gave me the clarity to find my own path.

For all of these things I am eternally grateful.

Mark Parzynski, MAcOM., LAc.