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This article details a trend of serious, unrecognized injuries and a surprising number of deaths in Japanese youth Judo programs. I found this story to be of particular interest, since Judo is often advertised as a very safe martial arts activity for kids.

The take-home message:

”First of all, many judo instructors at Japanese schools are too ignorant about what to do when a serious incident occurs…”

The activity itself isn’t necessarily unsafe, but the environment and attitude in which it is trained can be. We’ve beaten this particular dead horse for a while, but it bears repeating. Instructors have a responsibility to know:

  • their students’ limitations and health considerations
  • the risks inherent in their activity
  • what constitutes a serious injury
  • how to avoid serious injuries
  • what to do in the event of a serious injury
  • what not to do in the event of a serious injury

The quote at the end of the article brings to mind the mindless culture of obedience, subservience and physical abuse that was encouraged/required in early Japanese University karate clubs (and still is, in some cases):

Mr Murakawa said: ”Children, afraid of getting beaten up, must obey the coach and cannot ask for a rest for no matter what.”

This attitude has absolutely no place in any training hall of any art anywhere. It’s not worth emulating, it’s not honorable, and it is not “traditional.” The sooner it’s discarded, the better. Getting tougher and finding out what you can take is valuable and worth pursuing; sacrificing your safety and health for macho posturing is not.

Overtraining syndrome

Published on the Sports Injury Bulletin Web Site

by Heidi Meehan


At some point during their career, a number of endurance athletes report experiencing a suppressed athletic performance, often in conjunction with one or more other physiological and/or psychological symptoms. Among others, these symptoms may include chronic fatigue, disturbed mood states, increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections, changes in resting heart rate and disturbances in sleep patterns. Athletes experiencing such symptoms may be suffering from, or are at increased risk of developing, the overtraining syndrome.

Perfect Peaking Part 1: Overtraining and Its Prevention In Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning

Published on Grapple Arts web site

By Stephan Kesting


Many fighters find that they always come down with a cold or injury before a competition. This is often attributed to bad luck, but luck actually has very little to do with it. Most of the time these setbacks are due to overtraining, which is defined as a systemic deficit resulting from the stress of excessive training. In plain English this means that training is breaking your body down faster than you can recover from it. The pernicious pre-competition flu, therefore, is due to overly severe training and/or insufficient recovery, reducing the body’s ability to repel infections.

The purpose of this article is to investigate and summarize the phenomenon of overtraining, particularly with regard to combat athletics. One important goal is to alert you to some important signs and symptoms of overtraining, allowing you to cut back on your training before it is too late.

How to Prevent the Negative Effects of Overreaching and Overtraining in Athletes

Published on SIRC web site

By Craig Angle ME.d ME.d ATC, CSCS


A major sports challenge for coaches today involves helping their athletes develop an effective balance, between their training, competition, recovery, rest cycles. The balance challenge consists of determining the amount and type of training stress, competition stress, recovery, and rest away from a sport, an athlete experiences. An imbalance in the cycles described above, in combination with non-athletic stress, such as that experienced at home, work and/or school life, can lead to overreaching and eventually overtraining.

Click on the titles for the remainder of the articles.

A few years ago I found myself cooling my heels in the cardiac unit of a local hospital after a training session/workout. I was fairly young at the time (early forties), I did not smoke, drank only on rare social outings, as a lifelong vegetarian I had avoided the pitfalls of the American fast food dietary time bomb, and I led an active life. How I ended up in that hospital had a lot to do with my attitude toward health and training.

My family has a very rare, almost unique health condition, we develop rheumatic symptoms in reaction to a host of triggers, the most common one is cold. The cold does not have to be very severe either, just working in an air conditioned office can result in high fevers, swollen joints, uncontrolled shaking, lose of fine motor control, and all sorts of other nastiness. Other triggers include exercise, and trauma (think ude tanren, or even the joint locks of aikido).  Because our condition is so rare it is only now starting to get the kind of systemic investigation that allows our doctors and us to begin to understand the disease. Treatments are finally  being developed and we are gaining important information about how the disease works which helps us manage it.

I used to be ashamed of the welts that would raise over my skin as a reaction developed, I would go to great lengths to hide them. I felt weak willed when, in the course of a developing reaction I could no longer stand in a front stance because of the pain in my ankles and knees. I often felt humiliated when I would begin to shake and loose fine motor control during winter training. I would gut it out, feeling incredibly frustrated, and go home to collapse while my fever would shoot up, often to 103f for hours.

Read the rest of this entry »

Combat Sports Special Issue 2, JSSM – 2007, Vol.6, 62 – 64.

A 33 year old male karate practitioner presented himself for a full-contact national karate competition. This individual competed for approximately 2 minutes and received a kick to the head. He collapsed in the competitive arena, and suffered a tonic-clonic seizure, lasting for 3 minutes 25 seconds. Examination in the competitive arena revealed an individual who was unconscious. First aid, and paramedic support was provided immediately.

Excerpted from the Monash University website:

July 2008

There were 941 Emergency Department (ED) presentations and 371 hospital admissions related to martial arts injury among person 0-59 years, recorded in the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset (VEMD) and the Victorian Admitted Episodes (VAED) over the 5-year period 2002-2006.

Frequency: Table 1 shows the annual frequency of ED presentations and hospital admissions by year. The increase in martial arts–related injury over the 5-year period is probably due to better reporting

To read the rest of the article click Here.

Here are a few articles on children and sport related injuries. All but the last couple on the list are devoted to growth plate injuries. This suggests issues regarding the appropriateness of some sorts of high impact (such as heavy bag and makiwara use as well as some tanren) training for younger karateka. Although I do not teach children, when asked I usually recommend the use of lighter target pads with students younger than about sixteen years old. At the very least instructors should be aware of the possibility of these types of injuries.

Have a look:

Growth Plate Injuries in Young Athletes.

Excerpt From Growth Plate (Physeal) Fractures

Coaching Young Athletes

Increase in Adult-Type Injuries in Children and Adolescents

Epidemiology of Children’s Individual Sports Injuries

"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


November 2020

Flickr Photos


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