by T.K. Chiba
Excerpted from Sansho Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 1998
… One might wonder about or get scared at how dangerous Aikido training could be. A head injury could happen in Aikido training just like any other martial arts training or sports activity. As far as I can remember from my own experience of 38 years in Aikido training, it has happened four times.
The first incident was at Hombu Dojo 35 years ago during futaridori (two persons grabbing). The two ukes went down in a pile on top of each other and banged their heads together.
The second incident was 25 years ago during a demonstration in England; I was using someone from a different school. (I did not have any choice as I didn’t have my own students then.)
The third incident was also in a demonstration, on the occasion of Doshu’s visit to the U.K. The uke became self-blind due to the pressure and mental tension of the occasion, and went down on their head.
The fourth incident was last year at my own dojo. A kenshusei landed on her head taking ikkyo ukemi. This particular student had been warned and advised on many occasions about a tendency toward upper body orientation when in motion, but somehow never understood what it meant to be in a serious encounter. The accident happened when a senior kenshusei member, who had just returned from a European tour, carried back with him high energy toward training at his home dojo.
None of the above incidents resulted in serious consequences except for the first example. Although they were taken to the hospital right after the incident, one of the students lost his eyesight in the left eye.
The rate of injury is, I believe, nothing more than in any other physical activity. But keeping in mind the potential seriousness of the consequences, students and instructors should gain more first-hand knowledge of how to handle the injuries that occur. This is why [we] have been presenting information about head injuries. As far as preventative measures are concerned, they should include awareness training as well as basic conditioning exercises to develop the muscles of the abdomen which help control the weight of the head when one is falling down. I am planning to give instruction about this more precisely in the future.