Injury Prevention


“Find a space and work on your grading kata.”

Working independently was a good way of making us work harder and on what we needed most.  It also gave sensei a good method of getting around to each of us and giving individual feedback and advice on what techniques we needed concentrate.

“Oh Jeeez!”   Crash!  Rosie hit the floor like a sack of spuds.  We all looked around wondering what had happened as we were working on our own it was the last thing we expected.

“My knee’s just gone.” Rosie was lying on the floor clutching her knee.  Sensei went straight over to his bag, broke open a chemical ice pack sat Rosie into a chair, elevated her knee onto another chair and on top of his bag and placed the pack on her knee.  She held the pack on tightly and had gone into mild shock, her face was pale and she was sweaty.

“Keeps yer fit this karate Rosie…” joked one wag.

“Get on with your training” said sensei and we all returned to practising our kata with half an eye on Rosie grimacing with pain and holding on to the ice pack as if it were her saviour.

“He’s right though, sensei isn’t he?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well….  this karate lark is supposed to keep you fit isn’t it?”

“It does, yes.”

“So how come I’m laid up here, in agony, probably going to have to be off sick from work and unable to train for ages, because of karate?”

“It’s not karate that has caused your injury though is it?”

Rosie looks around…  “Erm….  what else could it have been?”


“How do you make that out then?”

“Think back to what you’ve been taught as the ‘basics’ of the art.”

“Remind me.”

“That the knee and ankle are NOT load bearing joints, but load transmitting.”

“So how come my knee has just ‘gone’ then?”

“Because you have not paid attention to what you’ve been taught and are paying the price for impatience and lack of technique.

Think of the constant instruction you’ve had about joint safety; the hours of instruction that I’ve given you on stance work and technique.  Instructions like ‘fix the knee, soften the psoas and quadriceps muscles, relax the waist, how to put your attention into your feet to feel your bodyweight going down into the root. In kicking we have focused on body alignment, not fully extending the knee joint and the power lines of the technique.  Although I admire your enthusiasm, Rosie, it is misplaced.”

Tears welled up in Rosie’s eyes, “I just wanted to do my best….”

Sensei looked on with compassion.  Wanting to give her a hug but knowing that it would be considered ‘inappropriate’ in a class nowadays.  “And you did.  Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.  You now have to use this injury to ensure that you don’t repeat the mistake.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Recovery from injury is a painstaking (excuse the pun) process. Many people make the mistake of becoming emotional about their injury, negative emotions slow down the recovery process.  They then ‘strap the injury up’ and try to ignore it, training as if they are not in recovery but fully fit.  They inevitably injure it again and again until they have to stop training permanently.”

“You were reading my mind there weren’t you sensei….”

“Yes I was.  It’s your high enthusiasm that caused the injury in the first place and it’s also likely to exacerbate it afterwards.”

“I’ll try to be patient sensei.  It feels a bit better now…  shall I join in?”

The look from sensei said it all.

“Rosie, go home, keep icing the knee to stop it from swelling, if it’s not too bad take some over the counter anti inflammatory tablets over the next 3 weeks.  Take extreme care of the joint – and only train when it’s better and even then only in a way that causes no discomfort.

Take your time with the injury, let it repair fully and properly.”

“But I don’t want this to happen again.”

“Then listen to the instructions on technique, everything we do incorporates joint safety.  You know my golden rule with technique….”

“If you want to do it right, simply don’t do it wrong!”

“That’s right.  Follow that code and you can’t go wrong.  Remember that the knee is a weight transmission joint and should NEVER be ‘forced’ or ‘pushed’ in any direction, it should always be ‘loose’ and fixed over the foot in stance work.  If you find that you are pushing it forwards at the end of a technique or to get extra power – you’re in trouble!

Go home Rosie, rest and learn.”

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