03 July 2011

Signs of "Dis-Ease"

Note: This post is not purposed as medical advice. Please consult a health practitioner if you are concerned about your health.

Health is something we emphasise at the Soo Shim Kwan. I believe that the martial arts could be an excellent contributor to one's health as it is an excellent form of exercise. The first point in our charter states that we aim at developing “the whole person--physically, mentally and morally: stressing a healthy lifestyle by means of certain 'Health Principles' and encouraging the virtues reflected in the 'Moral Culture', the 'Student Oath' and 'Tenets of Taekwon-Do'.” We also “encourage responsible training that will ensure active involvement in Taekwon-Do into old age.”

Ultimately, martial arts is about preserving your life; not only from an assailant, but also from the stress of life, including the stress of an unhealthy lifestyle. As [martial] artists our art medium is the human body. It is therefore important to be intimately familiar with the human body in general, but especially with our own bodies. One's body often presents clear signs, indicating its state of health. Becoming familiar with such signs is an important part of being a martial artist.

Following are some signs that can warn you if your body is in a state of “dis-ease”:


Make a habit of taking your pulse. A healthy martial artist's pulse would be below 70 beats per minute when at rest. If you are fit your heart will beat slower, but stronger. A well conditioned athlete may have a pulse rate of around 40-60 beats per minute. A high pulse rate when at rest or an irregular heart beat are not good signs.

(Note that infants and children have a faster pulse rate than adults and does not necessarily indicate an unhealthy condition.)

Blood Pressure

Healthy blood pressure has a systolic pressure under 120 and diastolic blood pressure under 80. If you follow the health recommendations advised in our Health Principles, your blood pressure will generally be well under 120/80, especially if you follow a balanced primarily plant based diet. (Some sources suggest the optimal blood pressure to be 115/76). Too low blood pressure, however, is also not a good sign. If you regularly want to faint when standing up from a reclining or sitting position, you may have too low blood pressure.

Body Odour

Unless you experienced an adrenalin rush or do not wash regularly, you ought not to have a strong body odour. Our skin is one of the main organs for ridding the body of toxins, so if  you have smelly body odour it is likely a sign of a body burdened with toxins. During hard exercise, your sweat ought not to smell too strong or offensive. If your sweat is generally smelly during or after exercise you should seriously consider a detox program.

(Remember also to wash your training uniform regularly, especially after sweating as the moisture could encourage mould and unpleasant odours. While not strictly a health hazard, it does make the training environment quite unpleasant!)

Urine Colour and Smell

When you are healthy your urine will be a pale tan colour. If your urine is a dark colour it usually indicates a system burdened with toxins. You may be dehydrated or your system is fighting off an infection. (Note that some foods and supplements like a Vitamin B-Complex may colour your urine.) When your body is healthy and well hydrated your urine will not have a strong smell. If your urine has a distinctly noticeably and unusually strong smell it is an indication that your kidneys are burdened to rid toxins from your body, that your urine is highly concentrated. Make sure to always drink enough water.


Your body generally use mucous to flush things out of it. Clear mucous could indicate outside stressors like pollen which your body cannot combat because of a weak immune system. Yellow or coloured mucous may indicate that you already have an infection. If you have a mucous discharge, know that your body feels under attack and is trying to rid itself of foreign entities through this emergency avenue. The presence of mucous usually indicates your immune system struggling, so take measures to enhance your immune system. At least increase your consumption of Vitamin C and alkalise your diet.


When your tongue is white and furry, it could indicate that your digestive system is clogged or burdened under unhealthy foods, particularly foods that are too rich or contains too many empty carbs. A clear, pink tongue tends to indicate a healthy digestive system. Read more about "What Your Tongue Is Telling You About Your Health."


If your diet is healthy and your digestive system working properly you ought to go regularly—a meal should pass the body within 24 hours of consumption. The stool should leave the body with not much effort. If this is not the case, it usually indicates a struggling digestive system because of an unhealthy diet. The stool should be an elongated S-shape that slips effortlessly into the water, not hard pellets popping into the water. Help keep your digestive tract healthy by including enough fiber in your diet. You could also add flax seed to your diet. When in moisture, flax seeds produce a gel coating that can lubricate the digestive track.


If you do not sleep well, it is clear that something is wrong. This could either be from psychological stress or physiological unease. If you do not rest well, your whole system will be affected, so it is paramount that you find the cause of your restlessness. About seven hours of sleep is usually considered healthy.


It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. They can also be windows to your body's state of well being. Bloodshot eyes, puffy eyes, the white of the eyes appearing yellow, and dark circles around the eyes are all possible signs of an unhealthy or stressed system. You might not be getting enough rest, your body may be burdened with toxins, your liver or kidneys may not be functioning at optimum, you may have too salty a diet. Clear, bright eyes are considered attractive, in part because they reflect a healthy constitution.


Any swelling in your body is a sign of something being wrong, generally inflammation of some sort.

Joint Aches

Aching joints tend to signal inflammation. There could be many causes; one thing it might indicate is an overly acidic system. Achy joints are a martial artists enemy. Make sure to drink enough water, and try to alkalise your body through a diet rich in leafy greens vegetables and low acid-forming foods.


If you notice any of these signs, know that your body is not at ease—literally or figuratively under attack. Look at your life style and see what could be the probable causes and visit a health practitioner if any symptoms persist.

A healthy life style is part of the discipline of a true martial artist.


Ben said...

Awesome post! I'll be more aware of these things as I train

SooShimKwan said...

Glad it is of help, Ben. I'll be sure to add more practical health-stuff in the future.