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Dan Rather has written an excellent piece about the dangers of traumatic brain injury amongst primary school-aged participants of sports activities. Highlighted is the data that the NFL itself recently released about the incidence of long-term impairment amongst it’s players, with a discussion of what the information means to coaches and athletes.  The information is just as applicable to teachers and students of martial arts.

The article ends with a bit of advice that any martial arts instructors and students should follow when it comes to a possible concussion:

“When in doubt, sit it out.”

Kids, Head Injuries and the NFL

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Contestant Dies After Toughman Contest

We have posted several pieces about the dangers of Traumatic Brain Injury, and the fact that participation in a fighting art or sport inherently carries an increased risk of sustaining brain injuries. As MMA events continue to grow in popularity, the fact that repeated blows to the head are almost guaranteed seems to be an afterthought to many. Pro-level MMA competition is not a good model for amateur training. As I pointed out in a post on TBI:

…for a pro competitor in the ring, brain injury is a risk that he or she is taking in exchange for payment; but this is not the same thing as an amateur student or weekend warrior who trains without monetary compensation or medical care…. a very large grey area has emerged when it comes to the long-term effects of repeatedly being elbowed, kneed and kicked in the head in a UFC style match. And when one considers that droves of people are attracted to amateur practice of MMA because it is touted as being “superior” to all other martial arts, one must also wonder how much of the accepting attitude of professionals towards the contact that causes brain injury goes along with it.

If you are interested in competing in full-contact events, do not ignore the realities of being repeatedly hit and kicked in the head- there will be consequences. These might be relatively minor, or they might take some time to show up- but they can also drastically alter your quality of life or end it in seconds.

I know I sound like a broken record on this topic, but it’s worth repeating:

Do not confuse the abuse that pro competitors elect to take with something you should accept in your training, or as being “just part of the game.” The complexity of the brain is directly proportional to it’s fragility.

Interesting article posted on the Journal of Neurosurgery website.
Excerpt:

Object. Females comprise an increasing percentage of the athlete population across all age groups, and analysis of recent literature reveals that they sustain more concussions in collegiate sports. Results of human and animal studies indicate that females may have poorer outcomes after traumatic brain injury; however, no return-to-play guideline takes sex or other individual differences into account. In the present study the authors evaluated the influence of patient sex on objective neurocognitive performance and subjective reporting of symptoms following sports-related concussion.

Read the rest here:

The article linked below complements the BBC report that Gill posted this morning. In a nutshell, 6 out of 6 NFL player’s donated brains have shown signs of traumatic degeneration that is normally associated with career boxers.

New Signs of Brain Damage in the NFL


"Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing less than his best ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad."
Funakoshi Gichin

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