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Old 09-05-2003, 03:23 PM   #1
L. Camejo
 
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Exclamation Injuring students

I've placed this in the teaching thread because I'm aiming this question mainly at instructors, especially in view of beginning students.

Have you ever had the experience of severely damaging any student while in the execution of technique or during training? For example, in the execution/instruction of a technique that you had not properly understood yourself? Or simply due to lack of control of a particular technique?

I'm not referring to the sprain an uke may get from poor ukemi here, but to techniques that are applied in a dangerous manner, resulting in putting the student out of commission for a while due to injury or even fear for their personal safety while in class.

A situation like this occurred recently at another dojo in my area, which forced the students to come to my dojo to see what training was like, as they felt a bit apprehensive about continuing at the other place. One of em (a total beginner) had wrist braces on both hands after 2 or 3 classes, it was said that a "pressure point technique" was done on him by the instructor. At present he is unable to move his wrists without serious pain.

This made me wonder, since I knew that most dojos practiced safety first. So I was wondering if anyone had similar experiences and could share some insights.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 09-05-2003, 04:51 PM   #2
mj
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That's a big question.

A 'total' beginner would come out of any adult martial arts class, and the next day feel like he should be in intensive care. (Try taking a few months off then going back to your normal class.)

And if the class had been 60/90/180 minutes of kote/shiho/nikkyo/sankyo from 6 different directions....all the worse.

From the little information given, I don't feel that much more could be inferred.

As to 'severely damaging' someone...yeah, I once broke a guys upper arm and his bone was sticking out of the gi, that was the worst one for me. I understood the technique fine, I just forgot about the other guy's lack of ability. A shameful learning experience.

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Old 09-05-2003, 06:08 PM   #3
Larry Feldman
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Never had it happen. But I have picked up students who have been injured at other places in town.

I have found that beginners are probably the most likely ones to hurt other beginners. Neither one knows what they are doing, they will try to force things to make them work, and neither can adjust by falling out of harms way. So, I don't let the new people work together if at all possible. If they do I usually work with them in their group.
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Old 09-05-2003, 06:36 PM   #4
Aristeia
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Training with beginners can be tricky. They spin out of your shiho nage, don't go to ground on ikkyo, don't move correctly for irmi nage, etc etc.

The problem is they have not yet learned how to move to keep themselves safe. So often you get experienced students wondering why they can't make their technique work on a newbie, and more often than not it's because they are holding back because they realise that to continue to execute it, because of the way their uke is moving, they'd hurt him. In otherwords you're faced with backing out of the technique and making it look ineffective (which can be a blow to the ego) or risking damage. The decision should be a pretty simple one, especially for teachers, but sometimes some people find it more important to show their aikido works.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 09-05-2003, 06:51 PM   #5
L. Camejo
 
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I guess I tend to take the extra time with beginners to ensure safety above all, so I often train with them myself or let my highest grades train with them because I know a degree of control and safety will be maintained at least on one end of the equation.

They are often told the direction of the fall a split second before the tech becomes terminal during freeplay, to have a bit of adjustment time to prepare for the change in direction and fall.

To concur with Larry Feldman's post, most times when I see folks getting hurt it's with beginners who train with beginners. Alternatively the higher grades tend to get injured as well when they train with beginners if they lapse and something unexpected comes.

As far as what sort of training was involved, I was not there, and know there are multiple sides to any story. From what they told it may have been a yonkyo (tekubi osae) application they were practicing. The thing is though, I still remember training as a beginner years ago, and have trained beginners (as well as seen it done by other instructors); and techs like that one tend to be naturally painful due to the nerve points involved, but control on the part of Tori tends to make the difference between pain and damage. Imho if a person's size, weight, resistance, lack of ukemi skills, unpredictable behaviour etc. negatively affects tori's ability to control a technique while practicing, tori has not fully understood that technique.

To add more info as per Mark's request: The entire class is one hour long from what I understand, the practice of technique may go on for a half hour at most, after warm ups, basics and ukemi practice.

Just a bit more to clarify things.

Thanks for the comments so far.

L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-05-2003, 10:22 PM   #6
shihonage
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Quote:
Michael Fooks (Aristeia) wrote:
Training with beginners can be tricky. They spin out of your shiho nage, don't go to ground on ikkyo, don't move correctly for irmi nage, etc etc.

The problem is they have not yet learned how to move to keep themselves safe. So often you get experienced students wondering why they can't make their technique work on a newbie, and more often than not it's because they are holding back because they realise that to continue to execute it, because of the way their uke is moving, they'd hurt him. In otherwords you're faced with backing out of the technique and making it look ineffective (which can be a blow to the ego) or risking damage. The decision should be a pretty simple one, especially for teachers, but sometimes some people find it more important to show their aikido works.
This is very true.

I've encountered that there are different type of newcomer students.

Some of them actually will scoff at you until you LAUNCH them, and then they land on the ground with the grace of a large FEDEX box, and as you look at them with fear that they injured themselves, they start smiling, in the sense "Okay, now THATS the spirit !"

I have the sense of waryness that some newcomers may leave if they constantly practice things in slow motion and don't get the feeling of some of the more "interesting" energy as something to look forward to.

Also, some beginners are "skeptical" and they keep purposely giving incorrect attacks, which are either too strong, or quickly withdrawn, or have the energy going the way inappropriate for the technique being practiced at the moment.

So I think it's best to find a way to be gentle without treating them like fragile flowers, and an occasional drop on their butt is allowable.
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Old 09-06-2003, 08:34 PM   #7
PeterR
 
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Larry talked about someone coming to the dojo with wrist braces - why on earth would a beginner be subjected to that.

Skeptical beginners are par for the course - toss them but don't damage them. If you can't manage the difference you shouldn't be teaching.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-06-2003, 10:31 PM   #8
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I agree with Peter and just about everyone else. I've only been teaching for around 7 years, but have yet to injure anyone in class. The biggest cause of this is lack of awareness on nage's part. Whether it's ignorance or nage trying to show off, it's just simply someone not paying attention and feeling the attack(er).

It is our job to protect nage as best we can, and one of my ways to do this is by saying, "Look, you can be stiff and fight it, but if the technique works and you're straining that hard, I'm going to break you. You can't come to class then, and I want to see you again. Please relax so I don't have to hurt you."

I can't see any reason an instructor injures a student to prove a point. It's borderline childish to me -- but not to worry, teachers like that will lose their students in the days to come.

That said, accidents do happen. But not twice on different arms in the same location on each arm.

*Phil

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Old 09-07-2003, 03:03 PM   #9
ian
 
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I've never injured a student but I have hit one in the face and one on the back of the neck (quite gently). It sounds mean but there was a spate of students 'wrestling' with technique. I think beginners are especially prone to wanting to compete in aikido before they understand the concepts well. For example during a sankyo a student grabbed his held wrist with his other hand to stop any movement, whereupon I delivered an atemi to his face.

I apologised profusely and now feel quite guilty for the act. Even though the student is now more aware that aikido is not just a 'grappling art' I'm not sure how I would deal with a similar situation in the future. I don't like to set rules that I can't illustrate or explain and I would agree that just backing out of technique not only looks bad, it can develop a bad habit for students and ourselves alike.

I do permit a degree of 'play' now with the more advanced students, but only because they are more aware of the training method in aikido and they are not disrupting the development of normal body response conditioning and have a greater awareness of the openings for strikes which techniques produce and their own openings.

Any advice on better ways (but not too restrictive) to deal with this would be welcomed.

Ian

Last edited by ian : 09-07-2003 at 03:10 PM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 09-07-2003, 03:06 PM   #10
ian
 
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P.S. I'd agree with previous posts. Any instructor should be skilled enough to understand and feel the flexibility of joints in his students and the tension in their body. Their is no need to force techniques on (though sometimes there is a need to change technique). One student I used to get up for demonstrations a long time ago was very prone to try and block techniques. Therefore I would say something like, 'and now we're going to do irimi-nage', and actually do kaiten-nage. These were some of the most effective throws!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 09-08-2003, 02:44 PM   #11
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When I was studying the "bashing" arts, injuries were very common. But in Aikido, I have not seen anyone severely hurt at our dojo. Our Sensei is very safety conscious and stresses it during training.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-08-2003, 03:06 PM   #12
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FWIW, I'll just bring up the counterpoint to at least one example. The above posts talk about beginners being injured by experienced students, but in my experience, the opposite is more likely.

I've had it happen with enough frequency to make me vary wary now where a beginner will struggle with a technique for a while and then suddenly slam it in almost perfectly. Or they change speed from really slow to super quick in the midst of technique. Or things don't quite work and they try to muscle the technique and (for example) lock out my elbow.

I'm a lot more wary of beginners than I am of experienced students.

Regards,

-Drew

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Old 09-08-2003, 10:44 PM   #13
aoerstroem
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Quote:
Ian Dodkins (ian) wrote:
I've never injured a student but I have hit one in the face and one on the back of the neck (quite gently). It sounds mean but there was a spate of students 'wrestling' with technique. I think beginners are especially prone to wanting to compete in aikido before they understand the concepts well. For example during a sankyo a student grabbed his held wrist with his other hand to stop any movement, whereupon I delivered an atemi to his face.

I apologised profusely and now feel quite guilty for the act. Even though the student is now more aware that aikido is not just a 'grappling art' I'm not sure how I would deal with a similar situation in the future. I don't like to set rules that I can't illustrate or explain and I would agree that just backing out of technique not only looks bad, it can develop a bad habit for students and ourselves alike.

(...)

Any advice on better ways (but not too restrictive) to deal with this would be welcomed.

Ian
I am almost a complete beginner here, but I thought I would reply nonetheless.

I have received atemi before in class when I forgot to cover my face as uke, and although I have been suprised each time, I don't feel like it was wrong of the instructor. He used it to illustrate why my hand should be there, and it's sure as hell easier to remember afterwards. So to sum up, I don't think you were wrong.

just my humble opinion.
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Old 09-09-2003, 06:20 AM   #14
PhilJ
 
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FWIW

My instructor told me I never needed to apologize for accidental contact. He said if my training was earnest, realistic, and sincere (sound familiar?), there was no need.

I agree with that... to a point. Gushing isn't necessary if you tap someone in the face and it doesn't hurt him/her at all... but there should be a _little_ humanity exercised in the dojo in these cases.

*Phil

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Old 09-29-2003, 09:40 PM   #15
Alan Lomax
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Re: Injuring students

Quote:
Larry Camejo (L. Camejo) wrote:
I've placed this in the teaching thread because I'm aiming this question mainly at instructors, especially in view of beginning students.

Have you ever had the experience of severely damaging any student while in the execution of technique or during training? For example, in the execution/instruction of a technique that you had not properly understood yourself? Or simply due to lack of control of a particular technique?

Arigato Gozaimashita

L.C.
I have not severely injured any beginning students and find that kind of conduct out of line. I have been injured severely by instructors and Senseis that for more than one, reason did not maintain appropriate control. For this reason I am extremely careful with all people I get the opportunity to train and train with. The carelessness of the people who injure others severely to try and prove something in training should not be tolerated by any student.

I left my first Kung Fu instructor after he attacked me in a free form sparring unleashing a barrage full strength weapons strikes, with the intent to cause great damage. I discovered later that his intention was to use my personal injuries as credentials for the effectiveness of his style. It was like a trophy to him.

I left Karate after only a year and a half after the instructor made the mistake of beating and kicking me so much that all of the other students in the training had to restrain him just so I could leave and seek medical attention. I was still just a teenager at that time and it ruined me on Karate as a whole. All the while in the previous training sessions before this, I had been under the mistaken impression that he had been so rough with me to make me his toughest student. I was wrong.

Although I began Aikibudo in a very reputable Dojo with an outstanding Sensei, I received a green spring fracture in my right forearm from an assistant instructor who was just trying to show how much power he had. No doubt about it, plenty of power.

In Japan I had my collarbone broken, as well as couple of vertebrae in my neck and my shoulder dislocated. This was not purposeful or willful damage by the Sensei. I was the first gaijin he had ever had in his training. I am much larger than He is. When I was indicated to attack him, I did, and quite energetically. He mistook this for me really trying to take him out in his own class and defended himself. I was merely trying to give him an honest and realistic attack. You know, the kind we read so much about these days in so many of these threads.

The last serious injury caused by an experienced practitioner was at Boei Dai Gaku, the Japanese Self Defense Forces Academy. This was by a visiting alumnus who didn't think it was appropriate for a gaijin to be practicing in with the students of the academy. He took complete advantage of my willing compliance and forced a Sankyo to the point of fracturing both bones of my left fore arm. His intent was willful and purposeful.

So again, no I have not. Because of what I have gone through personally, I keep a very close eye on all students during training and stress safety at all times. I keep just as close an eye on other Instructors. I have and will continue to get rid of students or Instructors who willfully try to hurt any one in training.

Alan Lomax
Doumukai Aikido
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Old 09-30-2003, 07:41 AM   #16
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response

Having the ligaments torn in my wrist from a sankyo by an egotistical instructor I had not trained long with resulted in me wearing tape on my wrist when training permanently. As a result, I regularly point out the tape as an example of a lack of control. It becomes an effective teaching aide.
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Old 09-30-2003, 12:16 PM   #17
L. Camejo
 
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Interesting to see the a common thread with the sprains due to applications of sankyo.

Have received the same myself during training - severely sprained both wrists within a 2 week period and had to tape em, but this was after ukeing for my sensei for about 3 years and acting as my instructor's knife stalking, resisting and countering test dummy before he went to Japan to compete. Made me learn a few things about kaeshiwaza and resistance . Having fallen for the same tech (with the same results) twice, nowadays it can only work on me if I'm asleep .

Alan, I am truly sorry to hear of your training misfortunes. A lot of what you experienced echo my own times before starting Aikido. The fact that Aikido taught one to be responsible for the safety of the aggressor was unique and very interesting to me and was one of the things that drew me to it after experiencing/seeing degrees of brutality at other types of dojo.

This is why I were so shocked to see the beginner that came to my dojo with the sprains, since in my little experience that sort of thing was not very common in Aikido training. As a result I also keep a close eye on other instructors, since Aikido is a very very new form of budo in this country.

Don't want folks getting the wrong idea.

Gambatte.

L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-30-2003, 12:38 PM   #18
Kensho Furuya
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I thought perhaps that as a long time "old dog" of an Aikido teacher that I might add my bit here for what it's worth. I have been practicing Aikido for 45 years now, teaching for about 30 years. In the old days, I suffered many injuries. Some dojos I practiced in even encouraged injuries. In fact, some instructors in the distant past, stated that if you do not sustain injuries in practice, obviously, you are not practicing hard enough!

When I was young and energetic, I didn't mind too much because I wanted to practice very hard and these injuries healed quickly, or eventually, and one moves on. Over the many years, however, I now realize these injuries do not go away but come back to haunt you later in life and I now can somewhat painfully remember every single injury I have sustained over these many years. I do not want the same fate for my students - I could never wish this on them so I practice "zero tolerance" on all injuries in my dojo, even "accidental" injuries if they are caused by lack of proper mental awareness or mental sloth.

Good Aikido can be safe Aikido and still be very effective and strong Aikido all at the same time.

Thank you and best wishes in your training,
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