injury prevention

Whether your martial art has you rolling on the ground and grappling, striking and sparring, or working with weapons (hopefully the unsharpened variety!), there are five common types of injuries martial artists tend to see. It is nearly impossible to avoid all injuries, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury that everyone who practices any martial art should be aware of.

Stress Fractures

One of the most common martial arts injuries, stress fractures occur when bones are struck with repetitive force -- think checking kicks in muay thai, or repeatedly hitting a heavy bag with inadequate wrist support. Stress fractures are also very common in runners' feet and legs, so if you've recently upped your cardio to get in better shape for your art, be on the lookout!

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To say that Bruce Lee was ahead of his time in terms of martial arts techniques and physical training would be an understatement, yet it's worth examining how much of his work was on the cutting edge.

In all the Bruce Lee biographies that have been written, one theme stands out: He was ahead of his time in terms of both martial arts and physical training. The list of professional athletes, media icons and everyday martial artists who have been inspired by his teachings is impressive — for good reason. When Lee moved, he embodied the perfect combination of efficiency, effectiveness and aesthetics. What made all that possible was his approach to physical development and health sustainment. With respect to that, a couple of aspects have always stood out. The August/September 2015 issue of Black Belt, on sale until September 20. First up is Bruce Lee’s scientific approach to martial arts training, which is well-documented in Tao of Jeet Kune Do, his comprehensive treatise on the art of fighting. By combining teachings from the East and the West, he laid the groundwork for a martial arts curriculum that addresses all aspects of the pursuit, including the spiritual/philosophical foundation, warm-up routine, psychology, and offense and defense. Bruce Lee could do this because he was an academic at heart. He researched, analyzed, synthesized and documented his thought processes and findings. And he applied physics to his theories before he made them his conclusions. By being scientific, he was able to arrive at indisputable conclusions about what worked and what didn’t.

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Scott Bolan and Mike Gillette contend that many martial artists do not pay enough attention to the neck as a vital target. This may be due to its status as a forbidden zone in traditional martial arts training and martial arts competitions. However, if one considers how the neck is constructed and what it houses, it certainly becomes an attractive target in real-world street-fighting situations. Therefore, Mike Gillette practices neck-strengthening exercises to build up the musculature supporting his head. He suggests that neck-strengthening exercises increase structural integrity during self-defense moves and help increase resistance to choke pressure.

NECK-STRENGTHENING EXERCISES VIDEO Mike Gillette Explains the Neck's Structure and Its Susceptibility to Injury in Martial Arts and Self-Defense Training

"The neck is an interesting piece of architecture because it is the pathway for some of the most aspects of the body: the central nervous system, all of your airway, your internal plumbing as far as your circulatory system is concerned," Mike Gillette says. "But interestingly, it is all built around one of the most structurally weak parts of the body." Gillette's breakdown of why neck-strengthening exercises are an important part of martial arts injury prevention and street-fighting preparation considers:
  • impact injuries from falling to -- or being thrown to -- the ground
  • tissue compression during a choke attack
The neck-strengthening exercises that Gillette recommends include flexion, extension and rotation. He says that these movement patterns need to be addressed together to ensure balanced development.

NECK-STRENGTHENING EXERCISES VIDEO Mike Gillette Demonstrates Neck Exercises for Strengthening Its Structure and Preventing Injury During Martial Arts Training or Self-Defense Techniques

"The nice thing about working on neck strength," Gillette says, "is you develop strength in this area pretty quickly. You'll experience pretty immediate feedback, which is [good for motivation]." The martial arts conditioning expert warns against movements during neck-strengthening exercises that are too fast or jerky, as this would be in stark contrast to the goal of injury prevention. "Notice that I'm not going quickly, I'm not snapping," he says during a demonstration of lateral flexion. "These movements are all very smooth. They have to be smooth, they have to be controlled because [the neck] is a very easy area to injure." Gillette's final word regarding this workout routine? "All of these [moves] are very simple," he says. "Don't over-think them. Don't try to make them more complicated than they are. You need to work on all [the] planes of motion to have a sufficient balance of musculature. ... If you're not building up the flexion muscles, if you're not building both sides of your neck, you're setting yourself up for injury -- and that's the opposite of what we want to accomplish here." For more information about Scott Bolan and Mike Gillette's training programs and products, visit martialpowersecrets.com and devastatingfighting.com.

Even if you're using martial power through dynamic breathing to bend steel, you've gotta be careful! Martial arts strongman and conditioning expert Mike Gillette explains the risks and the protocols for injury prevention during his feats of martial strength in this exclusive video from Black Belt magazine!

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Jack Hoban—a former Marine Corps captain and one of the acknowledged "founding fathers" of ninjutsu in America—reveals the core physical techniques of this mysterious and often misunderstood martial art. Trained by Masaaki Hatsumi in Japan, shidoshi (senior instructor) Jack Hoban is an ideal instructor to teach ninjutsu to new and experienced practitioners. Volume 1 covers junan taiso (stretching and conditioning exercises), san shin no kata (fundamental "body-spirit" exercises) and kihon happo (fundamental techniques). Also features weapons coverage. Volume 2 covers taisabaki (basic body movement), ukemi (injury prevention), taihenjutsu (movement to avoid danger), rolling, breakfalls, cartwheels and leaping techniques. Also includes instruction for ninja walking and advice on how to avoid sword cuts. Volume 3 covers kamae (body attitudes, stances), uchi waza (striking) and keri waza (kicking). Volume 4 covers introductions to basic weapons training and philosophy of the new warrior. Also includes stick techniques (hanbo, three feet; jo, four feet; rokushaku, six feet), a review of hand strikes, kamae with and without weapons, combinations and ways of immobilizing an armed assailant.

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Free Bruce Lee Guide
Have you ever wondered how Bruce Lee’s boxing influenced his jeet kune do techniques? Read all about it in this free guide.
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