Why It’s Important to Be Upfront About Injury in the Martial Arts

Injuries happen, even to the most skilled martial arts students. For a variety of reasons though sometimes people cover up or downplay their injuries when they happen. Sometimes it’s a macho thing and the person doesn’t want to let on that they made a mistake that led to their own injury. Other times it’s because they don’t want the person who caused the injury to feel bad. And then there are people who just don’t want to stop for an injury because they don’t want to miss out on training. Whatever the reasons behind for wanting to do so, it’s important to ignore the desire to hide an injury or downplay its seriousness. Here are the reasons why:

1. Getting proper treatment. This one is obvious, but the point always deserves emphasis. Injuries, even minor ones, should receive proper first aid at the time of injury. People are more likely to do this for more serious injuries, but it’s important to follow the same process for even the little pulls and tweaks to muscles and joints. The sooner after injury, the better. Doing so can help speed up recovery rather than waiting for after class when the injury is fully swollen.

2. Preventing worse injury. Little tweaks and pulls can cause compensatory changes to your movement and if you’re not careful, this can worsen the injury or even lead to a completely different injury as a result of the changes in movement. It’s not worth the risk.

3. Getting a more objective opinion. It can be hard to be objective about your own body, especially for the person who likes to push through pain. If you experience pain or unusual loss of mobility, it’s a good idea to stop training and bring it to the instructor’s attention. They are usually certified in first aid, so they can take a look and be a more objective source for determining the best course of action to take.

4. Preventing similar situations from re-occurring. Sometimes injuries happen as a result of a mistake that was made by a training partner, whether it’s from using too much strength, power or speed, or from a careless application of a technique. Students sometimes feel bad about “tattling” on a fellow student so they sometimes don’t let on when incidents happen. It’s important to be upfront though so that the instructor can make corrections or provide advice/warnings so it doesn’t happen again.

5. Making training modifications as you recover. By telling your instructor that you have an injury, whether it happened on or off the mats, they might be able to work with you to make modifications to your training regimen so you can train around your injury, potentially reducing the amount of time off you might have to take. There are plenty of ways to alter your training to compensate for certain types of injuries, like removing takedowns/breakfalls, training one-sided, etc. Obviously, some more serious injuries require long-term breaks, but sometimes minor ones can be worked around, while being mindful of your physician’s professional advice of course.

Honesty is definitely the best policy when it comes to dealing with injuries, for you, your fellow students, and your instructor. Have you any martial arts injury stories that would help illustrate the importance of being upfront about them? Please share them in the comments. 🙂

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