How to Avoid Injury in Martial arts Training Sessions

Naturally, no martial arts student expects to get injured. But before you take up a martial art, understand that to an extent it goes with the territory, regardless of your degree of flexibil­ity and strength. On the other hand, most people who take up a sport incur injuries. If you’re completely against this fact of sports life, then perhaps you’d be better off working out on your own or at a gym. Then again be prepared to accept the boredom that comes with that form of workout.

When I think back to my early training, I realize that the injuries I incurred were easily preventable. It was often as a result of my own nervousness and trying to impress the instructor and my classmates that I injured myself. It was also as a result of not remaining focused that I incurred injuries.

As a new student, you should constantly remind yourself to focus on yourself and your instructor. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to block out the other students when you’re not working with them. If students are practicing techniques as a group in front of a mirror, which is a common drill in my school, focus on yourself and how the instructor is perform­ing the moves. If the instructor is walking around the class correcting individual students, focus on the black belts in the class, who are often placed in front of the room for that sole purpose. Don’t think about the new student next to you, or the yellow, green, or brown belts in front of you. (Yes, in most martial arts schools, new students are placed in the back of the class during drills. While it’s not easy to see yourself in the mirror, it’s a lot less stressful than being placed in front of the class. Moreover, a good instructor will make sure that you can see yourself in the mirror and that you receive the instruction you need.)

Sparring probably accounts for about 80 percent of all injuries incurred in the martial arts. Despite the fact that as a new student you’ll be watched so closely that the chances of getting injured are minute, it’s nevertheless important to keep yourself focused—almost to the point at which you might even disregard who you’re sparring with. Think of your opponent as one long tree trunk with branches aimed at you. Consider each branch as it comes your way, blocking it, then throwing a technique to hit the trunk. This way you’ll remove yourself from the personal aspect of sparring, and concentrate all your efforts on the technical side, thus decreasing your chances of injury.

Also, don’t feel pressured to always listen to your instruc­tor, especially when it comes to sparring. For instance, if you are partnered with someone you don’t trust—maybe he hits harder than he should, or his punches seem to have a habit of landing in your chest—don’t get too close to your opponent despite the fact that your instructor may be yelling at you to go in and take a shot. Your instructor doesn’t want to see you get injured. He simply wants to push you to new limits. But sometimes you’re better off following your own instincts.

Generally, fewer injuries are incurred when practicing take-down techniques one-on-one with other students. The pace is often slower, and there’s less competition than in spar­ring. If, however, during these workouts you feel the other student is roughhousing you, tell him or her to take it easy. I recall often screaming internally to myself that my partner must be crazy or else he wouldn’t be twisting my wrist so hard, or throwing me to the floor with such force. (I’d even go home mumbling to myself what a jerk the guy was.) Unfortunately, only I could hear my internal screaming. You have to speak up, and a simple reminder to take it easy is usu­ally sufficient.

When working one-on-one with a student, again focus your attention on what you are doing. If you twist your part­ner’s wrist too far, she will indicate for you to stop by tapping or lightly slapping you, herself, or (if she’s lying on the ground) the floor. If you perform the technique incorrectly, your partner will correct you. Listen to your partner’s advice, but don’t be apologetic or embarrassed that you made a mistake. Simply take the advice, focus, and proceed. If neither of you fully understands the move, don’t be shy. Simply motion to the instructor or a high-ranking student—usually by raising your hand—that you require assistance.

Most of the injuries you are likely to incur or witness will range from bruises to jammed fingers or toes. Sometimes you’ll notice blood on someone’s uniform, which is often the result of a scab having been opened or a small cut incurred from a student’s fingernail penetrating a partner’s skin.

Bruises are another common injury Karate students routinely incur bruises on their forearms from blocking oncoming punches. I’ve even jammed fingers by trying to block an oncoming punch. Instead of making a fist with my hand and blocking with my forearm, I left my hand opened and hit my opponent’s arm straight on with my middle and ring fingers, causing the joints to be pushed together. Though uncomfortable, most instructors will allow students to train, though not at full capacity, with a jammed finger or toe. (Unfortunately, in my experience, jammed fingers never completely heal, which means you’ll never get those favorite rings on them again.)

Most of the more severe injuries you are likely to incur or witness include simple fractures, sprains, and strains. A frac­ture is a breakage in the bone, ranging from a crack to a smashed bone. (If the bone breaks through the skin, if s called a compound fracture, and at no point in your training should you witness or incur something like this.)

A sprain occurs when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, injuring the ligament, which attaches the bones together. A strain occurs when a muscle, tendon, or group of muscles is overstetched. The best defense against a sprain is to warm up properly prior to class. If an injury does occur, a well-prepared instructor will have on hand packets of ice to apply to the injured area and will have Onsite Injury Prevention Services standing by. Generally, students with fractures, sprains, and strains must stop training until some healing takes place. After that the student slowly works her way back into a regular training regimen.

Filed Under: Sports & Fitness


About the Author: By profession, Ralph Crutcher is a swimmer but enjoys playing football, Golf, and regularly goes to the gym to keep himself fit and healthy. This is one of the reasons; he likes to write about sports and fitness.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.