To be successful in the martial arts it is important to balance reality with safety. Training that is too ‘realistic’ and intense will result in frequent injuries and stressful practice. Training that is too laxed and removed from reality will not be effective for self-defense or combat should the need arise. So, instructors must balance providing training that is both intense and functional with minimizing injures for everyone in the room. Of course, this is adjusted for different age groups and the level of competition students will see.
Most martial arts gyms or dojos have rules in place for conduct and practice in classes. This is often referred to as the ’dojo etiquette’ and is displayed in the training space and talked about with students. Most of these rules are designed to create a positive and constructive training environment, and to keep everyone as safe as possible while training. Each student has a responsibility to know the rules and exercise good judgement in training.
Usually, when one of our students picks up an injury, its actually from the other activities and sports that they do. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of time, students are under constant supervision in the dojo. However, even in the best circumstances injuries can happen while training in the martial arts.
Martial arts injuries can vary from minor bumps and bruises to more significant setbacks. Often times, a Band-Aid and some encouragement will have younger students back in action quickly. For more significant injuries like strains or sprains the ’RICE” approach of rest, ice, compression and elevation will have the student back in classes soon. On the rare occasion that a student picks up a fracture or some other serious injury, the student should seek medical attention right away, of course, and follow their doctor’s advice on returning to classes.
Once the student is out of danger of aggravating an injury they are encouraged to resume their training as soon as they can. Often times, students can return to training before long and work around the injury or simply avoid certain movements. Once cleared by their doctor and feeling strong enough, resuming normal activity in training should help to strengthen the injured area. This can help with long term recovery and actually help prevent reinjuring the affected area.
It is not unusual for adult students to begin their martial arts journey with pre-existing injuries from a previous mishap. This can also typically be dealt with by being a bit selective about movements that may be risky for the affected area, and staying very mindful in training. In most cases, improving strength, flexibility, coordination and awareness will go a long way to improve the injured area over time.
For older students, old injuries can be more prevalent and require more mindfulness and selectiveness in training. Age may be ‘nothing but a number’, but a lifetime of adventure may have resulted in a variety of injures that must be taken into consideration. Add in other medical concerns that often come with aging and training can be a challenge.
Making the martial arts work for YOU will provide great benefits. Whatever your situation, injured or not, young or old, focusing on mindful movement and awareness in training will go a long way toward overall health and quality of life! So, make some goals, set a schedule for yourself, and train hard….but train smart!