Re: Backward Roll - Risks and benefits
Excerpt from "Tragedy and Hope in Sacramento," by Donald Hoffman, Aikido Today Magazine, August/September 1994:
The misfortune that befell Anne Sasaki could befall any of us who practice Aikido.
Practice was just beginning on the morning of March 14 at Aikido of Sacramento. Simple techniques were being explained and demonstrated. The experienced were helping the novices with basics; no over-energetic techniques were being performed. The environment was as safe as in most dojos.
A shodan with 10 years of martial arts experience, Anne Sasaki was working with beginners on backrolls at one end of the mat as other students were practicing basic techniques at the other end. Anne was in the middle of a back roll, upside down with her body over her neck, when a beginner who was completing ukemi veered to his blind side to avoid the dojo wall. The beginner collided with Anne, dropping his full weight on her. Anne's body went limp, numbed by a completely dislocated vertebra.
Anne was diagnosed as having a broken neck. She was placed on a breathing apparatus, and later a trachea tube was inserted. Doctors were pessimistic and said Anne would be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life.
There were other complications after neurosurgery -- some bouts with pneumonia....
Anne is regaining some movement and sensation in her body. She is going through physical therapy to strengthen her muscles. She is able to sit up with the assistance of therapists. Friends and family have been working to keep her spirits high.
Dan Wold Sensei, Anne's instructor at Aikido of Sacramento, has had a difficult time with the entire ordeal. According to Wold, the students of Aikido of Sacramento are also having a difficult time. But they are holding up well, and they visit Anne as often as possible.
The misfortune of Anne's accident has rippled through the Aikido community of Northern California like a pebble tossed into still waters. Safety, always important in the Aikido community, is now being stressed even more.