It’s funny…but not. Especially because it isn’t so much the white belt who ends up hurt, but the training partner.
We all start somewhere, no question about it – accidents ARE going to happen, it’s Martial Arts, for crying out loud. BUT…
It’s absolutely vital that newer students are not only encouraged to slow down, but ASKED to. The first nose fracture I sustained a few months ago wasn’t from a white belt – it was a tough technique, a few parts went awry between us…it happens.
But this time it was more the result of over-excitedness, and lack of body control – common to newer students.
I went slowly. I made a point to say “because this is designed to break the arm and damage the joints, it’s really important to go slowly. It’s easy to go too far before your partner has a chance to tap…”
The message has to come from all of us, though – it has to be engrained from the get-go, because many of our techniques (self defense-based, as much as offensively-based) are designed to injure. Even when a technique is meant only to control, there is room for an accident – mindfulness makes a HUGE difference in lessening the potential for injury on the mat.
After I took a heel to the face, re-fracturing my nose, a fellow student took the time to say (to my distressed training partner) “you really need to go slower. You have a high energy – that’s great -but in here, we really have to go slow…and slower still. We go slow for a LONG time.”
I think there’s a misconception that going slowly is a bad thing – it ISN’T. As the saying goes, slow is fast, fast is slow… Being deliberate in the movements builds – first of all – the proper muscle memory. Bad habits are a NIGHTMARE to fix – you want to be drilling the correct mechanics of the technique so, when it matters, that’s how you respond.
The other part of that is…you actually CAN hurt the person you are working with. It isn’t a stretch because that is precisely what you are learning to do. If you are more senior, you don’t have to be overbearing – but it is partially your responsibility to guide others when you notice they aren’t as in control as they need to be. Sometimes even then…accidents occur. So back up your peers if you need to – my friend stepping in was appreciated because while my partner won’t forget she fractured my nose…she was given extra reinforcement from the messages given to her afterwards.