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Teaching children’s martial arts class today I had one youngster ask me whether I had hurt anyone in sparring or in competition. Two instances that spring to mind are when my axe kick popped my opponent's shoulder and another time when someone fractured their wrist trying to block my roundhouse. I have also suffered injuries with the most serious being a broken arm in a state tournament. Injuries I guess are inevitable, however, Taekwondo is a fairly safe sport considering the objective is to score points with full contact kicks to the body and head. In Taekwondo most of the time if one gets hurt it is normally the result of an accident.
Unfortunately, in any sports injuries are a part of life. However many injuries that I have seen in martial arts come about just from training and practising stunts and tricks. I have seen one youngster break his arm after falling when performing a flying side kick. I still wince when remembering the time when my toe stuck out at right angles attempting to break a board with a jumping spinning roundhouse kick or the time when someone snapped my finger trying to break a piece of wood.
Club training should bring about relief from the hectic striving of the conscious rat race and free one into a state of aesthetic bliss. In sparring we are playing a sport we are not fighting. Fighting is something that is done outside the training hall when the need to defend arises. If I see anyone going in too hard or trying to hurt or injure their partner in sparring I impose myself on that person with power. Being a martial artist is about developing balance. Having style is a unique human quality when I observe a student using a technique; it is almost like a characteristic signature of that person. Relaxing and enjoying the sparring experience enables one to develop their style and avoid hurting themselves or their partner.
In the sport of Taekwondo, the targets are very well defined by the chest protector and head guard. Being able to visualize the sport fighting targets makes the sparring and kicking drills much more effective and realistic. Kicking to the low section and punching to the face is not allowed. Those who want to train specifically for self-defence I recommend my Krav Maga classes where I cover techniques against every possible target area in detail. Knowledge is power rings very true in martial arts but most importantly is the experience to keep that knowledge alive. When the instinct is vivid there is a much better chance of being able to survive and win.