Dislocated shoulders, high blood sugar and a black belt…

Last Saturday was an important day for some of my students…

It was grading day.

It was a tough test for many of my brown belts. I pushed them all close to their physical limits, but not without incident.

During the toughest part of the test (the ju kumite or dojo fighting part):

– One student dislocated her shoulder when another blocked her ridgehand strike. Yikes!

– And another student who is diabetic was having issues keeping his blood sugar in check. Since my Grandpa was diabetic and I’d witnessed his seizures first hand, I knew how important it was to keep an eye on the situation.

There have been countless incidents reported over the years of martial arts schools beating on their students to within an inch of their lives, even death. And while I believe that black belts must be earned and not given away, there is a difference between pushing someone to THEIR physical and mental limits, and continuously beating on someone because “that’s how you earn your belt”. A new black belt isn’t going to mean much to a grieving family.

With both situations on Saturday, I assessed where each person was relative to THEIR physical limit and wellbeing. I’m not a doctor, but it doesn’t take much insight to realize that when someone dislocates their shoulder that the fighting should stop.

(I popped her shoulder back in place but since we couldn’t be sure of additional damage, she was excused from the remainder of the test and went to Urgent Care for assessment).

Equally as important – when someone’s blood sugar might be moving towards an unsafe level, fighting should stop.

(In this case we took a couple of minutes to manage his blood sugar and I’m pleased to say that he continued the test and earned his black belt).

To me it doesn’t make much sense for a student to “tough it out” on the verge of a seizure or with a dislocated shoulder. The risks of serious injury and death are real.

Yet some schools continue to smash and bash because that’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done. And that’s how in some weird frame of mind, makes you stronger.

Most of us realize that’s an ignorant point of view.

My point to all this here is BE SMART. Yes, absolutely push your students out of their comfort zones as that’s where they grow. But also realize that each person has a different physical limit, and you’ll need to manage each person a little differently.

– Jason

P.S. If you thought that life threatening beat downs don’t happen check out this post I found where one student recalls his situation that left him temporarily paralyzed in the ER…


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