In the martial arts injures are common; sprains, strains, bruises, cuts, dislocations and even breaks. I have had 16 broken bones during my martial arts journey, all during training. For the most part these injuries are not taken seriously, and are even the subject for humor and teasing; “nice face block” or “I don’t think your toes should be pointed in different directions”.
But we, as instructors, need to take age into consideration when there is a chance of injury. Too young or too old and injuries are no longer funny.
What is too young or too old? I stated some ages below and they should be considered the general rule. I acknowledge there are exceptions to every rule and the instructor, knowing his students best, will have to make the call.
If a person is young – under 16 – the muscles are usually not strong enough to withstand undo hyperextension and the entire skeletal structure, including bones, ligaments and tendons have not fully developed and are prone to breaks and tears. Depending on the severity of the injury the child can be impaired for life, and most certainly a promising student will be lost.
If a student is 55 or older their bones have started to lose their density, the ligaments and tendons are weaker and thinner, not to mention less pliable, and the muscles have loss their flexibility. Joint dislocations are common in this age group. Injuries to the ‘executive’ student can be crippling with life long repercussions. And another customer is lost.
The 16 to 54 age group are, or should be, in their prime. This age is the perfect supplier for ukes, hard-training partners and endurance workouts. This is the group that can celebrate the stitches and be the target for good natured kidding.