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At some point in your martial arts training you will probably incur an injury of some kind. It stands to reason that just as you can get injured in your home doing some mundane chore, that you can also get injured doing your favorite activity. I have been studying martial arts for 27 years and in that time I have had some injuries. Some injuries have been minor like bruising and abrasions and some have been major like broken bones. In each instance, whether large or small, it is up to the student to decide what to do about their training.

Only Do What You Can When You Have Injuries

martial arts injuries

I have always subscribed to the philosophy that you should do what you can. At one point I broke my clavicle. I still went to class, if only to watch, but for additional practice I decided to work on my stances. Since I couldn’t use my upper body, I worked harder on my legs. I actually wound up working more with my legs than I ever did before.

With other minor injuries I would wrap it up, stay aware of it, and let the instructor know about it as well, so that they would take it into consideration for drills and partner practice. My decision to participate was ahead of the injury though. I wanted to participate as much as I safely could, rather than stop training entirely.

Follow Dr.’s Orders If You Have Injuries

martial arts injuries

Make sure you get injuries looked at by a medical professional. I do not advise anyone to go against professional medical advice, so if a doctor tells you not to participate in class, because of your injury, then be sure and follow their instructions. That said here are some things that you can do if you are unable to participate in the class.

  • Still attend and observe the class on your normal days and take notes about the lessons and drills. Listen intently as if you were in the class participating as usual.
  • Ask the instructor if there is anything you can safely do while you are out of commission. You might be surprised to find out there are things you can do depending on the injury. Check with your doctor as well.
  • Put together a plan for getting back to your regular scheduled routine once you get the all clear from your doctor.
  • Meditate and visualize yourself doing your martial art for 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Take care of yourself, and follow your doctor’s medical advice to the letter, so that you can return quickly and in tip top shape.

Keeping regular attendance is probably the most important thing to do when you are injured. For most students, once the habit of regular attendance is broken, it gets filled with other things, and then it is hard to get back into the routine. Staying focused on your class will keep you focused on your art, getting better, and all of the things that you want to achieve. Injuries can happen, but treat them as a temporary setback and not a complete surrender of your ambitions and goals.

What about Chronic Injuries?

martial arts injuries
martial arts injuries

Sometimes the best solution to a chronic injury is an entirely new approach. I have had my own battles with chronic injuries, and I have had to find new ways to compensate for them. I have incurred a lot of injuries on the right side of my body, and when I practiced Judo it was causing me a lot of problems. Some things were painful to do, and some things I just couldn’t execute well. This prevented me from doing my best, so my instructor gave me some great advice, “Now you’re going to be a lefty!”

By changing from right handed technique to left handed technique it enabled me to effectively address all the previous issues. Of course, this now meant that had to get better at doing things on my left side, which did take time. Now that I have been practicing as a “lefty” for a while, I am much better off. When dealing with a chronic injury you may have to be creative.

martial arts injuries
martial arts injuries

With any injury I think it is best to address things from the philosophy of “What can I do?” I should mention that the alternative philosophy of “Isn’t this a great excuse not to do anything?” is also available, but I don’t advise using it: It will not be satisfying. Acknowledge that injuries can and probably will happen, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Focus on how you can move forward, whether that means waiting for the all clear from the doctor or being creative.

By the way, if you focus on the philosophy of “What can I do?” in other areas of your life as well as martial arts, you will probably see everything else improve too. Train hard and be safe.

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