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B.J.M.
09-04-2006, 10:04 PM
On Saturday, while training at a dojo in Arrowhead, a student and now part-time instructor I've known for awhile was using me as an uke to demonstrate what Aikido *really* looks like to his students. He decided to try the more devastating side of a particular technique, sumi-otoshi, and....

...it felt like a lightning bolt hit me.

The distal bicep tendon which connects the bicep belly to the elbow on my right arm has been completely torn away. My bicep is now balled up on top of my shoulder. I have no way of supinating my right arm nor can I turn my right wrist in a motion like if you wanted to turn a door knob. All motions used in Aikido.

I'm right handed by the way.

I have to have surgery and extensive rehab. I will be in a sling and brace for at least 10 months.

The expense will be immense.

My right arm will never be like it was; losing up to 30% of its strength.

My ability to train and teach Aikido has diminished and will never be the same. My potential will probably never be reached.

I was planning on attending many seminars this year and next. I was going to stay and train with Donovan Waite sensei for a period of time as an uchi deshi. Gone.

I am quite devastated and very, very, very depressed...

My everyday living has been completely compromised by his carelessness not to mention my future.

I am at risk for losing my job. I was going to start a sword class for kids through an organization which was going to pay me for my services. Gone.

This guy was only thinking of himself that day and how he looked. He wasn't thinking of the art, he wasn't thinking of his students, and he sure as hell wasn't thinking of me.

I was the only one who put him, his students, and the art before myself. I didn't want his students to freak and lose faith in the art or him. So instead of screaming and curling up into a ball and crying in pain, I stayed quiet so they wouldn't be scared to do Aikido or to train under him, until it was all over then I showed signs of distress. I nearly passed out twice due to the shock.

He knew what he did when he took my gi top off and saw the major deformity made by the injury. He didn't drive me down the mountain. He didn't even go with me to the hospital. Great guy.

We are taught from day one to go underneath the arm and never, NEVER to the elbow or tricep area. My entry, a cross handed grab, was slow and controlled. He then entered with all of his center, weight, and muscle directly into the back of my elbow. It made a sound like celery stalks breaking, then he looked at me, and *then* he threw me into a front role.

He took advantage of me and my ukemi. He was just wanting to show off. "Look at how fast, mean, and skillful I am..." Well, two out of three got me screwed; I'll let you guess which two.

He never had me sign a waiver. I want compensation for my medical bills that aren't covered by my insurance and I want emotional anguish compensation.

What can I do? What should I do? Has anyone had this type of injury before and if so, what was your situation and eventual outcome?

I am extremely devastated by this.

I trusted him.

-Brent

gdandscompserv
09-04-2006, 10:15 PM
I'm sorry to hear this. It is one of my worst nightmare's to have an injury in my dojo, especially if inflicted by me. It is always unfortunate when this happens. I hope you will be able to train again.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-04-2006, 10:44 PM
Freaky. How exactly did it happen? Did he grasp only the bicep and throw you with that?

I say the first thing to do is to talk to him and see if you can get some mutual understanding and negotiate a settlement, being on your best behavior no matter how poorly he aquits himself in the encounter. Any hotheaded thing you do will work against the legitimacy of your greivance later if it comes to litigation. Maybe you will find that he is sorry and not as much of a jerk as you think, but just made a foolish mistake. That plus his offer to pay for most or all the medical expenses and maybe you won't even need lawyers.

If his reaction is anything less than that and you intend to go after him, of course you need a lawyer. If you don't already have connections, take your time and do some investigating before you hire one. Don't go to one of the factories with the giant ads on the back of the telephone book. I would start by calling the local Bar Association office and asking lots of questions.

I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that waivers aren't that big of a deal, one way or the other. Given that you willingly participate in Aikido knowing that something like this could happen by accident, your case might not be that strong. You will probably somehow have to prove that he did something beyond making a mistake - something with a component of extreme carelessness or malicious intent to get damages from him. Getting a bunch of money for pain and suffering sounds unlikely to me, which is a good reason to approach him reasonably and see if you can reach a mutual understanding and settlement instead of doing anything hotheaded. Take that with a grain of salt though, as I am not a lawyer.

statisticool
09-04-2006, 11:05 PM
Ugh Brent, I don't know what to say!, other than that is an awful situation.

To tell the truth, that is one of my fears in judo practice since it is so rough. It must be in the back of every martial artists' mind I suppose.

I practice arts for health... not to injure myself which is the opposite of health. But no pain no gain, no burn no earn, no risk no reward?? I can see that argument too. It is a hard situation.

Keep us updated!


Justin

mikeym
09-04-2006, 11:25 PM
I'm really sorry about that. All I can say is that there is still hope, with good rehab and a good physical therapist. Modern medicine is amazing.

I can relate to how you feel, having had a very severe shoulder separation fairly recently. I was depressed for a long time, replaying the event over and over in my head. After a lot of physical therapy my arm is usable again. I'm sure my shoulder is not at 100%, but it's good enough for everyday life, going to the gym, and practicing martial arts.

- Mike

stelios
09-05-2006, 01:58 AM
In various ocassions have I injured myself due to fellow student's inadequate skill application. In one case I was left out with a severely damaged ankle for many months but managed to recover through faith, effort and tones of arnica and antiflamatories. But a torn up muscle is more serious, I know. Do not lose faith, mate, keep it up. Soon you will be able to train again and follow your dreamt of career in the Aikido world. Believe strongly in your recovery, encourage the body to build strongly upon the hurt muscle, visualise it growing back well and stronger than before-the mind does miracles if we set it free. Our thoughts will follow your rehab. Let aside depression and guide your body to work on that bicep. Soon the results will inpress you as well. Positive thinking is the key to a quick recovery.

robert weatherall
09-05-2006, 05:34 AM
I have to have surgery and extensive rehab. I will be in a sling and brace for at least 10 months.

The expense will be immense.

My right arm will never be like it was; losing up to 30% of its strength.

My ability to train and teach Aikido has diminished and will never be the same. My potential will probably never be reached.

Brent at the moment you are majorly depressed and justifibly so. You have a huge injury which is not your fault and the medical advice you are receiving suggests your arm will never be the same.
As someone who was once critically injured on the tatami let me give you this advice. Listen and do everything your surgeon and physio say regarding recovery. But do not listen to them regarding the limitations of what your body will now be able to do.
I severely damaged my l left knee and almost lost the leg. My phsyio told me I would never walk the same way again. Determined to prove her wrong it took me 18 months to learn how to walk without a limp. From there I had to learn how to run and gain full movement so I could sit in Seiza again. Eventually though I got back on the mat and I now enjoy and appreciate aikido more than I did before. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Your recovery will be a marathon - not a sprint. Just don't lose sight of the finish line. All the best.

ian
09-05-2006, 06:11 AM
Very unfortunate. Why do many people equate 'real' aikido with destructive aikido? How does your main instructor feel about this? I would definately broach your grievance with your main instructor, probably outside the dojo (maybe on the phone) where he is not in a position of authority and where he can speak openly with you. What do your collegues think?

Possibly it was a mistake and he is trying to save face, but this sounds like a very serious injury - your instructor on the day is responsible for your safety! Taking the club/instructor to court could end up with the club closing (due to an inability to get insurance in the future), but you have a valid complaint so I would work something out which you feel is fair. Be carfeful not to accept too little at the start though as you may find permanent problems.

I'm not sure about the insurance policy your dojo has but I'm pretty sure our policy covers:
- the instructor being sued (i.e. if you sue the instructor, they can reclaim this through the insurance)
- time from work due to injury
- medical costs
- compensation (affect on quality of life)

I think the view that 'these injuries are expected in aikido' is never the case - your insurance should cover you for these injuries (if you don't have personal insurance through your club, your main instructor will have insurance which (legally) will cover these things). Talking to your main instructor should be done immediately. I would be devestated if this happened to one of my students and would consider ejecting the purpetrator.

Also remember there is a chain of responsibility - your main instructor, although he may not have done this action, is ultimatly responsible for you as he gave responsibility to the person that injured you. He will also know about the insurance policy, which you can discuss with him in a measured manner.


P.S. don't be fobbed off if they say nothing is due to you - although you obviously wouldn't want to destroy the whole club, potentially this mismangement could destroy your quality of life for a long time. If they don't have insurance (in the UK at least) they are breaking the law and you can still sue the instructor.

ian
09-05-2006, 06:27 AM
P.P.S. many waivers are legally rubbish anyway (for example in the UK prenuptial agreements aren't worth the paper they are written on) - I would guess this is the same; these people have a legal duty of care towards you.

Good luck and please tell us how this works out.

Janet Rosen
09-05-2006, 10:59 AM
Brent, Im SO sorry to read this.
I totally agree w/ Robt Weatherall: docs cannot predict how well folks will return from a trauma, so go through surgery and rehab w/ a clear idea that you can indeed have full function. Focus on doing whatever it takes (not through foolish overuse but through compliance w/ the regimen, including full rest when called for; also don't be shy in the rehab phase about looking at alternative movement/bodywork therapies that may complement traditional physiotherapy), keep the rest of your body strong and flexible and healthy, and if/when you can consider this a long yet finite period of misogi.
Having said that: don't abandon your legal rights! This was NOT, from what you have written, an unforeseen accident on the order of bodies colliding or a slip on the mat. He should be held accountable for expenses.
Best of luck.

statisticool
09-05-2006, 11:07 AM
I'd be curious to know if the doctor(s) recommends any type of exercises for your arm, and what the exercises consist of.


Justin

Lan Powers
09-05-2006, 04:21 PM
Have the Dr's. made any statement on the possibility of surgical re-attachement?
(I haven't read any mention of that being an option for/or against)

It would seem to me that the dojo-cho or chief instructor's response to all this would set the tone of all later dealings....What comment has he made on the incident? (if not prying by asking)
Lan

B.J.M.
09-05-2006, 05:57 PM
First of all, I want to thank everyone for their responses; the positive feedback has worked wonders.

I go into surgery on Friday to repair the damage and then it will be a LONG haul as far as rehab is concerned.

I am trying to use this time to really see how devastating Aikido can be and the compassion one has for there attacker/uke is absolutely necessary to say the least.

Well, the attitude of the guy is one of, "..this type of thing happens all the time, it is a martial art after all."

Now, this didn't happen where I train regularly and my sensei are beside themselves and sickened by the whole encounter.

Nick P.
09-05-2006, 08:02 PM
"...happens all the time."

Really? Guess a few of us should pay him a visit and see how many parts of him can be damaged in one session. After all, happens all the time....

On another note, chin up. Be thinking of you this Friday.

Jim Sorrentino
09-05-2006, 09:24 PM
Dear Mr. Magnusson,

I'm sorry that you have suffered such a terrible injury. I hope your surgery and subsequent recovery go smoothly.

I am an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Maryland. I work for the federal government as a policy analyst, and I do not represent private clients. The following is not legal advice, but only my personal opinion based on your account of events. I apologize for the disclaimer, but it is necessary.

If you have not already done so, I strongly suggest that you consult an attorney with a solid trial practice and personal injury background. If possible, you should try to find one with a martial arts background. Because your claim is based on personal injury, it is possible that your attorney would take the case on a contingent fee basis --- his or her final fee would be based on the amount of the compensatory and punitive damages the attorney recovers from the defendant(s). Even in contingent fee cases, however, the plaintiff (you) may still have to advance some money as a retainer.

It is important to realize that potential defendants include not only the nage, but also his instructor and the dojo in Arrowhead. It may even include the organization that accredited the nage.

It is likely that you will need both eye-witness and expert testimony to support your version of the events. I realize that you have a lot on your plate right now, but if possible, you should get the names and contact information of as many of the people who witnessed the demonstration as you can. If anyone photographed or videotaped the demo, you should try to get copies.

As for expert testimony, you should seek out recognized high-ranking aikido teachers (I suggest 5th dan and up) who will testify about the proper methods of demonstrating the technique with a cooperative uke. It would be helpful if the expert is impartial --- your sensei, or people who know you, your sensei, or the defendant are probably not good candidates. My guess is that if you and your attorney make an appeal on AikiWeb, you will get the expert testimony you need.

You should also understand that pursuing a lawsuit takes time. It may be years before you recover any of your financial losses.

Finally, in addition to time, please be aware that pursuing a lawsuit may also cost you "friends" in the aikido community, who operate under the mistaken belief that uke is a thing and not a person.

Again, good luck.

Sincerely,

Jim Sorrentino

B.J.M.
09-05-2006, 11:43 PM
"...happens all the time."

Really? Guess a few of us should pay him a visit and see how many parts of him can be damaged in one session. After all, happens all the time....

On another note, chin up. Be thinking of you this Friday.


Ha-Ha....

Thank you Nick. The chin will remain up...

-Brent

Mashu
09-06-2006, 01:46 AM
"..this type of thing happens all the time, it is a martial art after all."

That's just all kinds of wrong.

Let me get my torch and pitchfork...

Nick Simpson
09-06-2006, 02:32 AM
Jesus, I didnt think Sumio Toshi could do that kind of damage. I spose its the tori, not the technique though. F*ck. I hope your surgery goes well and that your recovery is as quick and as easy as it can be Brent, I suffered a bad cut on the mat (through 2 fingers and into middle of palm) and lost partial use of a finger, I know you feel like crap now but you WILL recover from this and dare I say it, come back stronger. Best wishes.

grondahl
09-06-2006, 06:20 AM
Rest and then get a good Physical Therapist after the surgery.

Btw, exactly what technique are we refering to? Different names for the same technique etc in different styles.

Nick P.
09-06-2006, 07:39 AM
Let me get my torch and pitchfork...

HAH! Brilliant!

Nick Simpson
09-06-2006, 07:58 AM
Sounds like the original versionof sumiotoshi whereby tori bars ukes arm from the underside and steps throw to project, rather than cutting down on the top of the elbow?

Peter Goldsbury
09-06-2006, 08:26 AM
Sounds like the original versionof sumiotoshi whereby tori bars ukes arm from the underside and steps throw to project, rather than cutting down on the top of the elbow?

Hello Nick,

There is a version of sumi-otoshi with which I am familiar, where tori torks the elbow from underneath before the throw. This version does not require the tenkan taisabaki, which I have always learned was necessary to set up the required mae relationships. In other words, you can extend outwards and create a 'space' into which you hope that uke will fall, but this also implies a loss of control. The 'official' version I have learned requires a tenkan taisabaki to set up the required mae, but here is another version that requires a 'feint' in the form of a torque on the elbow, similar to the shiho-nage variations Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei used to practise. This is the version I referred to above.

I cannot visualize the injury being discussed here, but if it were me, I would find a good lawyer and sue everybody, from Doshu downwards. It is morally unacceptable for the student's instructor and dojo-cho to behave in such a way.

Best wishes,

Lyle Bogin
09-06-2006, 01:39 PM
My dad broke his leg in 12 places last year (the doctor stuck a steel rod in the center of his shin and stacked parts onto it like a shishkebab) and he has gone way beyond the expected recovery. Good luck!

ian
09-06-2006, 01:49 PM
Good luck Brent - from the sounds of it we are all behind you (maybe that's not a good place to be in aikido ;) )

ChrisMoses
09-06-2006, 02:21 PM
I don't really have much to add, just my condolences. What a terrible thing to do on so many levels. You'll certainly have a steep hill to climb, but these kinds of injurues can often be recovered from much better than even just a few years ago. Be proactive with your doctor and try to see a surgeon who specializes in athletes if possible. Same when you do your physio, find someone who works with atheletes and then approach your rehab the same way you have your aikido training. Let the PT know your goals and if they're not 'with you' find someone else who will help you get back to where you want to be. You also might review if you've been taking any medications, some seemingly unrelated meds can cause these kinds of injuries to be more likely. I read not long ago about an antibiotic that has a fairly common 'side-effect' of a torn Achilles tendon (particularly in women)!

Anyway, good luck with your recovery (both mental and physical).

George S. Ledyard
09-06-2006, 02:36 PM
I am appalled, as I am whenever this happens. the fellow's complete lack of concern speaks volumes. That said, his dojo is most likely insured. If so, they should be able to cover the costs of everything your insurance doesn't cover or visa versa. Call your own insurance company immediately, they'll go to bat for you if they think they can put the payment burden on to someone else... Lawyers cost alot so unless there is a great deal of money to be recovered (ie the school is well insured) I would go to the appropriate person at the offending school and get the information about how to file a claim and skip the layer unless they are not TOTALLY reposnive to your needs.

Years ago one of my instructors broke her arm when she panicked during a koshi that wasn't well execiuted and she put her arm down to break her fall. She was in between jobs and didn't have insurance so I put the claim in through my insurance. They paid right away although she had to cover her bills first and then they repaid her.

Once you get what you need from the insurance company I would go on every Aikido related website and relate the story. E-budo has a bad budo section and this certainly is bad budo. Peter's idea of suing everyone is a good one but only if you wnat to be the poster child for an anti violence reform movement within Aikido... strikes me as a full time effort; admirable but not for everyone.

Peter Goldsbury
09-06-2006, 08:55 PM
Well, it was lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits that caused at least one aikido organization in the UK to join the government sponsored British Aikido Board (BAB), which meant that all the instructors had to have a proper coaching qualification, including giving first aid, and also have proper insurance.

The US appears not to have such government-sponsored organizations, at state or federal level, so a lawsuit seems to be the only way of holding the instructor accountable.

I had a meeting about this a few years ago in the Hombu and Doshu takes the issue very seriously.

Gernot Hassenpflug
09-06-2006, 11:36 PM
Peter, could you clarify the last point a little: Does Doshu take the issue of the US situation very seriously, or does he take the issue of injuries in Aikido in general (worldwide) very seriously, or is he concenred because there a similar situation in Japan to that in the US?

My personal experience is that non-university dojos are very careful when handling ukes, warnings about dangers of practice are given regularly at the start of classes, and individuals who mistreat someone (in the view of the dojo-cho) are requested to leave. This strict rule extends even to instructors, and the care extends off the mat, to how the safety of people (especially ladies) is seen to up to the point where they get on the respectably timed bus/train to head home after training or the later drinking/eating sessions. Students (school, university) require special care since they are minors still, and that a little less care is needed for adults. So adults do not usually perform the several rituals of respect in gratitude for this extended care which is obligatory on the minors. Students are also further protected by the use of the group model, whereby the senior representative hands information to the dojo-cho on a regular basis, which can include health issues and personal issues, so that in training no student is taxed beyond a reasonable limit. This latter is quite critical in a culture where often unreasonably severe personal/family/work issues are not made open, and therefore the aikido dojo acts as a discreet support without officially acknowledging anything and making the person lose face. There is therefore a distribution of responsibility and caring down a heirarchy.

B.J.M.
09-07-2006, 12:39 AM
I am appalled, as I am whenever this happens. the fellow's complete lack of concern speaks volumes. .

It certainly does.

Ledyard sensei, I was really looking forward to attending your seminar at Redlands Aikikai at the end of this month and finally being able to meet you,.. but now all of this happened.

Perhaps I'll be well enough to come at least watch and say hello.

Thank you again everyone for your help; it is very welcomed and appreciated.

-Brent

Peter Goldsbury
09-07-2006, 12:52 AM
Peter, could you clarify the last point a little: Does Doshu take the issue of the US situation very seriously, or does he take the issue of injuries in Aikido in general (worldwide) very seriously, or is he concenred because there a similar situation in Japan to that in the US?


The case involved an injury in the dojo and also a warning from the instructor who caused the injury not to make the matter public. I privately arranged to receive papers on the matter, including a doctor's report, and discussed the matter with Doshu at a meeting. The chief instructor of the dojo was 8th dan and the case happened in the US. It was further discussed at an IAF meeting.

George S. Ledyard
09-07-2006, 09:45 PM
It certainly does.

Ledyard sensei, I was really looking forward to attending your seminar at Redlands Aikikai at the end of this month and finally being able to meet you,.. but now all of this happened.

Perhaps I'll be well enough to come at least watch and say hello.

Thank you again everyone for your help; it is very welcomed and appreciated.

-Brent
Please do come!!! I am sure that Prekash Sensei will have a potluck or we'll go out together on Saturday night... why not go out with the gang? I hope to see you there.
- George

Gojuball Sensei
09-11-2006, 06:06 PM
What would Steven Seagal say.........

Mike Grant
09-11-2006, 06:29 PM
Unusual injury-you'll probably end up as a case report in a medical journal. I've known plenty of people tear/avulse their long head of biceps and do quite well with coping movements afterwards (to the extent of Himalayan mountaineering and high standard rock climbing) but never anything like this. I think you're right, the recovery is going to be a very long haul and it's possible that you may not make it back.

Anyway, sue the guy with the deepest pockets. And invest in a baseball bat to deal with the w*nk*r who did it (just joking, honest!) when your arm is working again-why not post his name on here in the meantime so we all know who he is?

By the way, the above is just my opinion and does not constitute formal professional advice. And I've got no money so don't even think about it....

Mike Grant
09-11-2006, 09:00 PM
I've had some more thoughts on this which may (or may not) help.

The whole point of rokyo/kokyo nage/shionage form techniques applied through the back of the elbow joint at full power is to hyperextend the elbow joint and snap the olecranon process of the ulna (I seem to recall reading somewhere that this happened to Don Draeger during a 'demonstration' when he invited to 'feel' a technique at the conclusion of a visit to a dojo in Japan).

But this hasn't happened to you, which tells me that despite his bad attitude and apparently careless approach, nage did not apply a full power technique to the correct place at the back of your elbow (because the leverage effect means that the olecranon process is very easy to snap-which is why we always have to be so careful with these tachniques).

However much you hyperextend the elbow, it would be impossible to completely tear the biceps tendon away from its insertion into the posterior border of the neck of the radius in the manner of the injury you describe and most certainly not without snapping the olecranon process at the same time....so what's happened is that your muscle has gone into spasm at the wrong time and caused the problem. Probably you were tense because you didn't fully trust the guy and one thing just led to another. Perhaps you were also tired and/or dehydrated, which wouldn't help.

The unwelcome message I guess is that this wasn't really anyone's fault and in my opinion (with the usual caveat about not being formal advice) the guy is right, these things do happen-he could have been a hell of a lot more sensitive about it after the event though, that's for sure!.

I wouldn't rule out some sort of compensation though. Maybe even quite substantial. anyway, best wishes for the op and for as full a recovery as possible.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-11-2006, 11:32 PM
I think you've got the direction of application of force to the arm backwards, Mike. He did not say higi-nage, he said sumi-otoshi, which I think usually involves pushing the lower arm or inside of the elbow downward and behind the body. My concept of what happened is that the guy grabbed the bicep or biceps tendon with his upper hand instead, pushed down and behind, and the rest of the upper arm did not go along, so he basically ripped the bicep off its attachment with the upper hand.

In the scenario you describe, I doubt it is within the normal person's biceps power to snap their own tendon through muscle contraction. It happens to bodybuilders somewhat frequently, but usually it happens with steriod users, whose tendons have been weakened by the drug, and whose muscles have grown abnormally strong and rapidly, also from the drug. It usually occurs during heavy curls, in which the confluence of these factors equals many times the force that a normal person's biceps can generate plus the weakened tendon.

shadowedge
09-12-2006, 12:32 AM
Im so sorry to hear this. Forgive me if i missed it, but when should you surgery be? Brent, I strongly believe and hope, that long after this, you're arm will recover. I have two kohai who had simillar (but not really as bad) body injuries. One had a dislocated thumb, the other recovered from a broken arm. these were injuries they sustained long before they took aikido.

We are very careful with them during training, and things go well with them. My piont is, give your body time to heal. Unless your doctor said otherwise, there is always hope for your arm to recover and grow stronger. And perhaps in the future you may return in training.

Get well bro.

Mike Grant
09-12-2006, 04:34 AM
Kevin,

Here's what the poster himself says about the mechanism of injury:

Quote: 'We are taught from day one to go underneath the arm and never, NEVER to the elbow or tricep area. My entry, a cross handed grab, was slow and controlled. He then entered with all of his center, weight, and muscle directly into the back of my elbow. It made a sound like celery stalks breaking, then he looked at me, and *then* he threw me into a front role.' Unquote.

Sumi otoshi or not, it was apparently caused by pressure applied to the back of the elbow and the hyperextension of the elbow joint involved could not have caused avulsion of the biceps tendon as described of itself. There's nothing here about the biceps being physically 'grabbed' and torn off the bone as you suggest and I'm sure that the poster would have remembered if that had happened.

You'd be surprised by how strongly a muscle can contract when it goes into spasm. Ever had cramp?

Mike Grant
09-12-2006, 04:55 AM
For the avoidance of confusion: sumi otoshi-like koshi nage only you roll the uke across your shoulders rather than your hip. I'd assume that the nage here was attempting a shio nage entry form (if sumi otoshi was actually the technique involved), hence the pressure on the back of the elbow. No need to grab the biceps, twist the arm behind the back, or anything like that.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-12-2006, 11:25 AM
I don't think there is much point on trying to do forensics on an injury based on a brief written description, especially to the point of concluding who is at fault. He could have meant pressure into the back of his elbow from the front, since he said "into" and not "on". I personally cannot picture anything called sumi-Otoshi in which the elbow gets hyperextended and the nage is pushing on the back side of the elbow. Everything about sumi-Otoshi is sending the joints and bodyweight in the opposite direction.

And, yes, muscle spasms are powerful, but muscles are only so powerful. Unless his are abnormal, I don't think you can attribute the fault to his muscle spasm no matter what the mechanics. I have never heard of a tendon rupture attributed primarily to muscle spasm or to someone merely contracting their own muscle. They usually have to do with the application of a huge outside force, often ballistically.

ChrisMoses
09-12-2006, 11:35 AM
I personally cannot picture anything called sumi-Otoshi in which the elbow gets hyperextended and the nage is pushing on the back side of the elbow. Everything about sumi-Otoshi is sending the joints and bodyweight in the opposite direction.


I've seen quite a few practitioners who do sumi-otoshi this way. Yes it's missing the point of the technique, but I've seen it both performed and taught this way.

Agreed however that there's not much point doing any online forensics.

Mike Grant
09-12-2006, 12:00 PM
Quote: I don't think you can attribute the fault to his muscle spasm no matter what the mechanics.Unquote

And you base this on what Kevin? If you want to know my own medical experience, then send me a PM and I'll gladly oblige by return.

Quote:He could have meant pressure into the back of his elbow from the front. Unquote

Not when I did anatomy he couldn't. But maybe things have evolved since then...

I know you're desperate to find a villain in this piece, but unfortunately I don't think there is one (unless you count a bad attitude following the injury; as in no lift home, not going to the hospital etc).

Online diagnostics are not necessarily that accurate agreed, but the point of this discussion is that everybody has been blaming the nage for this and the injury as desricbed could not have been caused directly by the technique as described. Witch hunts are equally undesirable I feel.

Chris, with so many different styles and dojos represented on here, I think it's a problem defining exactly what people mean when they name a technique. Hence I went back to the original post which clearly describes the method of injury as force applied behind the elbow joint. Agreed, it doesn't sound much like sumi otishi as I know it, more like some sort of elbow projection kokyu nage, but there you are.

Dan Rubin
09-12-2006, 05:17 PM
Brent

I feel your pain. In fact, I feel it every time I re-read your original post. What a terrible and frightening injury. I think that you should take Jim Sorrentino’s advice, the sooner the better. In the meantime, I have two questions for you.

You write that “instead of screaming and curling up into a ball and crying in pain, I stayed quiet so they wouldn't be scared to do Aikido or to train under him, until it was all over then I showed signs of distress. I nearly passed out twice due to the shock.” Does this mean that you continued to train after the initial throw?

Also, you seem to be saying that this “part-time” teacher is not the dojo’s head instructor. What does the head instructor have to say about all of this?

The answers to these questions do not affect the damage to your spirit, mind and body. I hope that the medical advice you have received thus far is overly cautious and pessimistic, and that you will be back on the mat soon, healthy and wiser for the experience.

Dan

Kevin Wilbanks
09-12-2006, 05:54 PM
Mike,

I have to defer to your uncanny ability to make such detailed conclusions about the causes of an injury and legal fault in an incident based on brief, vague, online heresay. I am afraid I lack such powers.

I have not made any conclusions of any kind about this incident, and your attempt to impugn my motives is as irrelevant as your resort to trying to make credentials an issue. Arguments from authority are always invalid.

I base the statement that I doubt his own muscle spasm caused the injury - as opposed to the fact that someone was cranking their bodyweight into his arm - on the fact that I have never heard of such a thing. If it is common or even possible for a cramp or spontaneous spasm to cause a tendon rupture or avulsion, the burden of proof is on you for making the positive claim. Instead of secretly telling me about the diplomas on your wall or attacking my credibility by implying a lack of them on mine, perhaps you could direct me to a source of information documenting this phenomenon and how common it is...

Kevin Wilbanks
09-12-2006, 06:21 PM
Incidentally, I just looked around on the web at sites describing distal biceps tendon ruptures and the common causes. Most cite violent application of straightening force on a bent elbow, followed by prior chronic wear and tear in the elderly. None site spontaneous muscle spasms.

Since the original account says nothing about whether uke's elbow was straight, all that business about the impossibility of rupturing the tendon because elbow capsule wasn't damaged during hyperextension is probably irrelevant. The elbow was likely bent.

I notice on rereading the description the part at the end about a forward "role" (sic), so I'm guessing that the throw is as Mike described, minus the assumption about the degree of elbow extension - what I'd call higi-nage. This throw is probably not called 'sumi otoshi' by very many people.

If this is what happened, I can't imagine many Aikidoists who would describe the application of a higi-nage so abrupt and forceful that uke's biceps tendon snaps as anything but nage's fault, pretty much by definition.

If you wanted to get philosophical, you could say this type of injury is always the fault of the person who doesn't relax their biceps and let their elbow capsule break instead, but that does not seem to be the standard way medical references cite the cause, nor does it seem to make much "common" sense. Either way, an elbow-straightening force is being applied that the arm can't withstand.

You could blame uke for not taking better ukemi, which theoretically could have saved the elbow, I suppose. However, like I said, most people reject this interpretation of the roles of nage and uke by definition.

Mike Grant
09-13-2006, 07:33 AM
Kevin,

We're in danger of boring everybody. Spasmodic contraction has a very specific meaning in medical terms and it's not what you seem to think it is. It means is that the muscle fibres are all recruited (as in contract) all at once resulting in a very powerful contraction that could easily tear the tendon off the bone. If the uke is anxious and resisting the technique, that could be one cause.

Sumi otoshi aside

Mike Grant
09-13-2006, 08:47 AM
Sorry, I got bounced out half way through that!

Kevin, I have never used the term 'spontaneous muscle spasm' so stop putting words into my mouth. I did use the expression 'spasmodic contraction' which most physicians and/or physiologists would understand (although obviously not artists) so apologies for any confusion. Spasmodic contraction quite often occurs in situations where there is a strong emotional overlay, for example a reluctant and aprehensive uke, so I don't think that what I said was unreasonable. Combine that with some form of inherent weakness in the tendon and we have an explanation I feel.

I also did not imply that this injury (as in rupture of the biceps tendon insertion) was common-it's very uncommon to the extent that it's not even included in most textbooks and, as I said in my first post on this thread, proabably merits a case report in a suitable medical journal. Once again apologies if you now feel you have to spend the afternoon at the local library trying to prove me wrong on my assertion about text books.

As to the bent elbow. We know that the force came through the back of the elbow because Brent told us that it did (read the first post on the thread again). So how easy do you think it would be to do that if the elbow joint was flexed (means the same as 'bent' in this context Kevin) to, say, 90 degrees and given that we know we're not dealing with a rokyo/hije shime type situation but rather a forward projection ending in a front rolling break fall? I could live with 10-15 degrees of flexion, but not a lot more and that's essentially straight. So I'll go back to my previous scenario of the elbow suddenly straightening from a 10-15 degree flexion and the force applied then going straight through the olecranon process which would likely have snapped had the force been 'excessive'-as opposed to yours of a forcibly straightened elbow against average/normal resistance and for the sake of everyone else on the forum, let's agree to disagree.

I really do have a lot of sympathy for Brent after this horrendous injury and I hope that he's covered by his own insurance if nothing else, but it does sound like an accident (as in nobody is to blame) to me-or at the very least it wasn't totally nage's fault. On the one hand a reluctant and aprehensive uke, on the other a nage in demonstration mode with what he probably considered to be a very experienced uke.

I'm not sure that I deserve your personal attack though. The offer to take it offline was made because I'm a little concerned that we're in danger of boring the nice people on the website. Qualifications and direct experience don't count for everything that's true but they still do count for more than ten minutes surfing on the web I hope.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-13-2006, 01:44 PM
I see that you are getting more condescending. I am not a doctor but I have studied exercise science and anatomy and have athletic training certifications. I don't need to be told what flexion is like I'm a kindergartener, as my earlier posts and others here attest. As a philosopher, I rank it along with the textbook fallacies you plied earlier as another attempt to sway the conversation with dirty rhetorical pool, and your plea about my 'personal attacks' as disingenuous, and more of the same.

Despite my inaccuracy with exact medical terminology, I see the issue here, and I still see your account as absurd, insofar as you are now making up even more details that include exact joint angles, his emotional state, the contents of nage's mind, pre-existing weakness in the tendon, etc... Your concept of standards of evidence and level of certainty about your conclusions is baffling.

As to the biceps tendon rupture etiology issue in general, like I said before, it sounds to me like you are mounting a philosophical campaign to revise how this type of injury is viewed in the world. Interesting, but probably not practically or legally relevant in this case. According to your account, what is apparently considered the most common cause and mechanism of distal biceps tendon rupture from an accident isn't possible - unless the joint/bone is also broken in the process, or the person contracts their muscle inappropriately due to fear.

I suspect that the contraction you are talking about is a relatively normal reaction to certain violent forceful joint extensions - a reflex to protect the joint - and that calling that the "cause" is a bizarre, anomalous way of talking about it. The reason I used a slightly different phrase for it is because your description is analytically dissecting the event and attributing the cause or fault in what seems an unusual way.

As I said, the main facts of an incident like this are that a violent, abrupt straightening force is being applied to the arm. Whether the muscle spasmodically contracts and the result is a muscle or tendon injury, or doesn't and the result is a joint injury seems irrelevant to the issue of cause or fault - most people would call the violent straightening force the cause.

Saying that the muscle contraction was the cause is counterintuitive in the context, and I think, ultimately incorrect. As I said before, if spasmodic contractions themselves in normally developed muscles can "easily tear the tendon off the bone" why have I never heard of this? I've done reading on electroconvulsive and insulin-induced convulsive therapy, where such contractions are stimulated throughout the body far beyond what would happen in a sporting situation, yet never encountered mention of tendons ripping off the bone as a side effect, although there are mentions of broken bones. I have also never heard of tendon ruptures occurring in epileptics who have grand-mal seizures. If a muscle contraction can be the "cause" in the injury situation like this, it seems like it would occur all the time in these scenarios where spasmodic contractions are occurring in the body equivalent to muscle contraction component of hundreds or thousands of such injuries per event.

B.J.M.
09-13-2006, 04:10 PM
Hello,

I know your hearts are in the right place fellas but, enough is enough.

We could disect this thing until the end of time. So what. I could be angry about it until then too. So what.

What really matters, (to me anyway), is mending, staying positive, and focusing all my energy so I can get back on the mat and do what I love.

My Aikido has forever changed because of this. For the better I might add. I will be back, in full capacity but with a very enlightened way of moving I believe.

I think to be different from the nage I had, all one really needs to do is change the intent of the heart. One must have compassion. Compassion for the attacker, aggressor, or whatever you want to call 'em that stands before you. One truly does not want to harm
this person who wants to take you apart, but rather one just wants to simply neutralize the situation so both participants can walk away unharmed. That's true skill. That's what it means to be an Aikidoist.
To me the definition of one who studies this art is a person who has the divine power and skill to choose the sword of life rather
than the sword of death when met with anger, aggression, and hatred.

This is my focus now. I have alot of work ahead of me.

For the record, the technique was supposed to be a "corner drop" or sumi-otoshi. The nage made it a hiji-tori. My arm was fully extended, and how he positioned himself made it impossible to bend my arm, and then very quickly and very powerfully he entered with full focus into the back of my elbow.

I've replayd it in my mind a thousand times as you can imagine; trying to see if there was anyway that I could have avoided it. Nope. I'm also known in my dojo as "Mr.Ukemi", the "Caucasion Donovan Waite sensei", the guy who is often uke for the shihan who conduct seminars at our dojo. The guy decided to try what would be considered a maiming technique to take an arm out of commission thinking that I could get out of it and that it would look cool. He was wrong about me getting out safely but very successful regarding the maiming part.

I don't know why; I don't know what he was thinking; I don't know how he expected that to turn into a throw. It wasn't until after the tendon tore away that he released me and then threw me correctly. ????

This person's instructor knows what happened and they are perplexed and saddened at his callousness toward me and the result of his actions.

Everyone, thank you for all of your concern in this matter. Again, knowing that there's a big Aikido family out there is nice.

I'll be back. I hope to see and train with some of you after I've mended somewhere, sometime, on the mat.

In the meantime, train well and correctly with one another. Be powerful with your body, use wisdom as your minds guide, but always have compassion in your heart.

-Brent

"Without bitterness, one will never know sweetness."

Janet Rosen
09-13-2006, 04:56 PM
Brent thank you for (trying to at least) put an end to the "monday morning quarterbacking." It sounds like you are finding this process to be your current practice/training; I found that the only sane approach to serious injury/surgery/rehab process and commend you.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-14-2006, 12:42 AM
I have not made any claims about what actually happened. With this additional description, I am back to being unable to envision the throw at all. The major thrust of my argument was decrying the 'monday morning quarterbacking' involved in making assumptions and reaching firm conclusions about an incident of which we have virtually no real evidence. Secondarily, I saw Mike's claims as having some purely theoretical interest.

I'm sorry if being a sort of specimen in my conversation upset you Brent. I have had a lot of experience at being sidelined from activities I love to do due to injury. I have finally come to suspect that I have some kind of autoimmune problem with inflammation, analogous to psoriasis on the skin. My only advice is to find something else that you can do to take up the holes in time and energy that used to be occupied by Aikido, while you are waiting for the rehab to come to fruition. There is nothing worse than sitting around dwelling on what you are not able to do.

Mike Grant
09-14-2006, 10:46 AM
Kevin, stick to the day job pal, I'm sure you're a lot better at that....

(By the way, you've given a legal opinion on this thread-but you're not a lawyer. A medical opinion-but you're not a medic. And an opinion on aikido techniques-but you consider yourself to be outside the ranking system and don't grade. Where does it all end?)

Brent, I think you're right. Further discussion would be counter-productive and probably inadvisable if you are about to embark on legal action. If you want to pm me for my qualifications then please go ahead because I think the following is going to be important to your case. It's physically impossible for the injury that you describe to have been caused by any amount of pressure on the back of your elbow. Your bicep had to be contracting and this means that, rightly or wrongly, the nage is going to say that it happened because you were resisting the technique. Just for the record, I also think that there was most probably some form of inherent weakness in the tendon.

One other thing, on past experience (admittedly in the UK and all military related) most of these things get settled out of court regardless of the rights and wrongs. I saw one guy get GBP 250,000 for breaking his ankle on a parachute course (!!!) and another GBP 750,000 for an accident that was entirely his own fault and which resulted in a disability that was in all probability not related to the event anyway. On that basis alone, I'd say go ahead and sue and you'll probably do quite well out of it.

Best wishes for the surgery and recovery period anyway and I hope that you can resolve things and regain some form of mutual respect with the 'perpretator'. In some ways, it's a pity that we don't have some form of officially sanctioned independant investigation after incidents like this (along the lines of what happens after an aircraft crashes) to at least establish what actually happened, who is to blame (if anybody) and look at lessons for the future.

aikidoc
09-14-2006, 03:49 PM
It's physically impossible for the injury that you describe to have been caused by any amount of pressure on the back of your elbow. Your bicep had to be contracting and this means that, rightly or wrongly, the nage is going to say that it happened because you were resisting the technique. Just for the record, I also think that there was most probably some form of inherent weakness in the tendon.".

I disagree. If he has very flexible elbows, i.e., they extend beyond straight or hyperextend and he was being drawn around with his arm in this position it would force tenson on the biceps without him reacting. Enough tension and it could tear. Or for that matter, inherently tight muscles or joints if hyperextended which being taken down or in a ura fashion could put enough pressure on the biceps. I have felt considerable stretching of the biceps during certain techniques with over zealous nages (I have tight joints) enough so I was concerned my biceps was going to tear. Everyone is so different with flexibility, etc. I don't think we can assume it is impossible.

aikidoc
09-14-2006, 03:52 PM
What would Steven Seagal say......... He'd probably say quit whining and get off the ground or he would come down there and "beat you himself." Sorry, I was thinking about Path Beyond Thought".

aikidoc
09-14-2006, 03:59 PM
Kevin,

Here's what the poster himself says about the mechanism of injury:

Quote: 'We are taught from day one to go underneath the arm and never, NEVER to the elbow or tricep area. My entry, a cross handed grab, was slow and controlled. He then entered with all of his center, weight, and muscle directly into the back of my elbow. It made a sound like celery stalks breaking, then he looked at me, and *then* he threw me into a front role.' Unquote.

Sumi otoshi or not, it was apparently caused by pressure applied to the back of the elbow and the hyperextension of the elbow joint involved could not have caused avulsion of the biceps tendon as described of itself. There's nothing here about the biceps being physically 'grabbed' and torn off the bone as you suggest and I'm sure that the poster would have remembered if that had happened.

You'd be surprised by how strongly a muscle can contract when it goes into spasm. Ever had cramp?

It's rather difficult to do sumiotoshi from a cross hand grab. It almost sounds like an ude hiji nage. If that is the technique, it does put stress on the biceps. I have been thrown aggressively in this throw and definitely felt discomfort in the bicep. If the body does not react fast enough it could cause considerable strain to the biceps.

Lee Mulgrew
09-15-2006, 05:31 AM
Brent at the moment you are majorly depressed and justifibly so. You have a huge injury which is not your fault and the medical advice you are receiving suggests your arm will never be the same.
As someone who was once critically injured on the tatami let me give you this advice. Listen and do everything your surgeon and physio say regarding recovery. But do not listen to them regarding the limitations of what your body will now be able to do.
I severely damaged my l left knee and almost lost the leg. My phsyio told me I would never walk the same way again. Determined to prove her wrong it took me 18 months to learn how to walk without a limp. From there I had to learn how to run and gain full movement so I could sit in Seiza again. Eventually though I got back on the mat and I now enjoy and appreciate aikido more than I did before. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Your recovery will be a marathon - not a sprint. Just don't lose sight of the finish line. All the best.

I can't imagine what you are going through at the moment but trust this guy's statement. I have been training with him since just after he came back on to the mat and he is one of the best I have trained with, you would never know anything was ever wrong with him (his knickname is Mr. Angry!). As another side note my wife recently had a grade 3 seperation of her A.C. joint (the ligaments in her shoulder snapped completely and her joint was seperated by aproxx 1 inch). She was told by doctors that she would not be training again and would have have chronic pain for the rest of her life but she has made sufficient recovery to start training again and it is getting better all the time (altough I still worry overly much about it and take it far too easy on her). Take it easy and go slow at first but it will heal, the body can do the most amazing things!

good luck for the future ;)

Mike Grant
09-15-2006, 05:40 AM
John,

I'm not sure how the biceps thing that you describe would work. Given that the elbow is straight and the force is coming from behind the joint, it's impossible to stretch the biceps to any significant extent by hyperextending the joint and it's not clear what other movement would be involved that would stress the biceps to that extent. back to my original thesis I guess, some sort of spasmodic contraction plus an inherent weakness in the tendon.

Things might be a little clearer if we all knew techniques by the same name, but the other point still stands. Excessive force behind the elbow joint is most likely to fracture the olecranon process. I guess you could postulate some sort of supra trochlear fracture of the humerous with the distal fragment rotating forward and severing the biceps insertion, but you'd also cut the brachial artery with severe bleeding in that event and it's quite clearly not what happened here.

An unusual injury. Have you encountered it in your practice before?

Jenn
09-19-2006, 06:50 PM
I am a beginner who trains with Brent. He was actually my first teacher when I walked into a beginner's class for the first time just over a year ago. I know he speaks the truth when he says he will come out of this stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.

We all love and admire what he brings to the mat, and what he WILL bring to the mat in the future. When he says he thought first of how he would represent Aikido before his own pain, I believe it 100%. His constant desire to try to inspire confidence and appreciation of Aikido in beginners has not gone unnoticed by me or the other beginners I know.

But, I wish he didn't feel like he had to hide his pain (and thus the real dangers of Aikido) from observers or beginners, especially at what must have been a very frightening moment. Anything worth doing in this life comes with risk. And yes, there is a lot of trust we extend to others on the mat not to abuse us or the vulnerable position we are putting ourselves in. But such is life. Every time I put my precious children in my car and drive down the road, I am similarly trusting other drivers not to plow into and kill us - drivers that unlike Aikidokas, are possibly taught nothing of peace or compassion. If anything, Aikido increases our overall emotional and physical safety in the world as we grow more aware of our mundane, everyday perils. That's way more worth a risk of injury than some more common risks people take while skiing or biking. No reason that the risks can't honestly represented. Lord knows I can get flinchy on the mat at times, but I am looking forward to (hopefully) advancing to a point where I can engage in faster, more continuous practice even if that means higher risk. It's too much fun not to. I really can't imagine observing an injury severe enough in an Aikido context that would frighten me away from the art forever.

You know we all love you Brent. Take care of yourself. :ai: