Health: Martial art is Ki to fighting off aches and pains

Mark Waugh

Mark Waugh

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Ex-marine Mark Waugh has found an ‘amazing’ cure for his chronic back pain in the shape of a Korean combat technique...

THEY are the best of the best: the tough guys who are called on when the most dangerous jobs need done in some of the roughest terrain in the world.

Which is why to earn the privilege of wearing the green beret of a Royal Marine means a rigorous fitness regime which would leave most normal beings weak at just the thought.

Being a Commando comes at a physical price, as Mark Waugh knows only too well. The 42-year-old served for 23 years, latterly as a physical training instructor putting raw recruits through their paces, but the decades serving Queen and country in the naval force took their toll. For the last 15 years he’s suffered from a degenerative spine condition which at times has left him barely able to move – a painful frustration for a man who has taught skiing in France, been mountaineering in Germany and who now works as a personal trainer in Edinburgh.

Now, however, he has found a solution – one which he might well have dismissed as mumbo-jumbo in his military days.

Ki Therapy is a Korean martial art which has evolved into a form of physiotherapy and, he admits, its success has him completely baffled.

“I’ve no idea how it works, but it does,” laughs Mark, from Leith Walk. “I’ve suffered with my lower back for years. My spine is basically crumbling. It’s much older than its years through wear and tear and it’s been my time in the Marines that’s done it as that was pretty punishing.

“I’ve tried all sorts of therapies and treatments and this is the only thing that has worked for me. I’m told it’s all about your “chi energy flows”, and whether you believe in all that or not, whatever it does, it works for me.”

Ki Therapy is based on the the Ki-Gong martial art which took Albany Street practitioner, Chongsu Lee, 15 years to master in his native South Korea.

The 33-year-old, who is sports physio with Dunfermline Football Club, started practising the regime after his own childhood was blighted by major health issues, including pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas which can be fatal.

“When I was growing up I spent most of my time at doctor appointments and long stays in hospital because of pancreatitis,” he says. “After taking what seemed like an endless list of prescribed drugs from the age of eight – none of which made any difference to my health – when I was 18 my family suggested it would be a good idea to start practising Ki-Gong.

“This particular combat technique is widely celebrated in the Far East because people feel it has strong healing powers. Thankfully, for me, that proved to be right. After practising Ki-Gong for a short time I noticed a huge difference in my physical and mental state. It really was a miracle cure for me.

“Then I thought, if it helped me it can help others. If I used my skills and combined them with physiotherapy I could make a difference to people.”

However as Chongsu had spent most of his adult life working for Hyundai as an engineer in Seoul, he knew he’d have to retrain as a physiotherapist before he could put his idea into practice. “So I enrolled at Queen Margaret University where I gained my MSc in physiotherapy, and in February this year I opened my clinic.”

Since then he says he’s acquired 350 clients suffering from a range of health problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and chronic pain – including former Marine, Mark.

“I have always been fit and now that I’m a Power Plate personal trainer and also enjoy climbing, kayaking and skiing, I’ve been desperate to find something which would improve my back problems,” says Mark, who works at Studio EH1.

“There have been times in the past when I’ve been completely inactive because of the pain. I’ve spent a lot of time going round various clinics and physios.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went along,” he adds. “Basically he was rocking my body very gently. My heart rate and breathing both became very slow – in fact I thought I might not breathe again until I came out of it. Then my body felt really warm inside and at first I thought I might be in physical discomfort for the rest of the day but after a few hours I noticed a huge improvement.”

So much so, Mark says, that even his hips were moving smoothly – something he hadn’t felt for years.

According to Chongsu, below, the rocking motion of the therapy “induces the Ki energy transmission from nature into the body, restoring immunity and vitality”. He adds: “It has the power to detoxify the whole body, while having a calming effect on the mind and emotions.”

Mark obviously has some difficulty in digesting that explanation, but adds: “The discomfort in my back hasn’t disappeared but this is the best treatment I’ve tried by far and my quality of life has significantly improved.

“I haven’t the faintest idea why this works for me when other treatments have failed, but it does. It’s amazing.”