In my free time, outside of my martial arts community, I recently watched the skateboarding competition in the Tokyo Olympics. Later I learned that the street competition bronze medalist, Jagger Eaton, was skating on a broken ankle.
On the one hand, it seems obvious that he should probably take some time away from skateboarding to heal. Yet, I also understand loving what you’re doing and not wanting to take a break from it (skateboarding is really fun. I mean Martial arts are fun, but catch me in my free time, I’ve been having a blast learning to skate).
It can be hard to take the time you need to heal. It’s especially challenging when it means taking a break from the things that you enjoy. It’s difficult to prioritize taking the time you need to heal before returning to martial arts or any physical activity.
However, it’s important to take the time you need to heal. If you have a martial arts community that supports you through that healing process, it is an easier thing to do.
Martial Artists Get Hurt
Even with adequate safety guidelines and equipment, sometimes martial artists still get hurt in drill or sparring.
The most common injuries we see at Polaris Fellowship are scrapes and bruises. Occasionally we’ll see a sprained finger, wrist, or ankle.
Almost as common as injuries that occur during sparring can be repetitive stress injuries. Potential repetitive stress injuries that martial artists get include tendonitis, pain in the wrist or hands, plantar fasciitis.
In addition to getting hurt doing martial arts, sometimes martial artists can get injured outside of their martial art. Chronic health conditions or face physical limitations that make it difficult for students to participate.
The challenges presented by each physical barrier can be unique, and require different solutions. It’s important for martial arts communities to support their members as they heal and recover.
Martial Arts Community – A Place For Support
What sort of support can a martial arts community offer to people who are injured and need to rest?
At Polaris, we work to keep space for people who can’t be physically involved in class.
If you’re at class, but you can’t spar or do drill you can still watch and discuss sparring. The instructor can partner the injured students up with those doing drill to facilitate discussion. We encourage students to watch, analyze, and discuss sparring as part the normal class. Injured students can smoothly switch to a greater focus on learning this way as they recover.
Polaris has some lessons that are based on personal reflection or aren’t physical skills. At Polaris we work to engage our students when they’re injured on these lessons and skills.
When injured students come to class and participate gives them a continued sense of investment in the community. It’s not just a place they come to hit people for fun.
When martial arts communities create a space for students to learn, even when they can’t spar, it allows them to take care of themselves. Students will also feel like valued members of the community.
When people can still feel connected, they can take the time they need to heal and not injure themselves anew.