Martial Arts Safety Tips for Students & Instructors

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Martial Arts Safety Tips for Students & Instructors

Martial arts training is inherently risky. There is the risk of sparring accidents, training injuries, fracturing a bone during a breaking technique, etc. Therefore, here are some basic safety tips for martial arts instructors and students.


  • Do warm-up exercises before class in order to increase your circulation, prepare your heart for the more vigorous activity later in the class, increase your oxygen capacity, help warm-up and loosen muscles and tendons, etc.
  • Do not rely just on the stretching in class. You need to stretch every day and do extra work on any problem areas (i.e. hamstrings). This is especially true for adults who are generally less flexible than younger students. This will help to lower the risk of potential over-extension injuries.
  • Hydrate. Drink lots of water before, during and after practice. You will sweat a lot. Severe dehydration can cause mental confusion, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, seizures and even death.
  • If you get hurt during your martial arts training, see a doctor.
  • If you are recovering from an injury, do not rush back to class. Wait until your injury is completely healed before returning. It is easy to reinjure yourself if you come back too early.
  • If you have an existing medical condition (i.e. asthma), let your instructors know so they can best accommodate your needs and/or be prepared if there is a problem.
  • Wear a properly fitting mouthguard if you practice with a partner (i.e. sparring). This will help to reduce potential dental problems and head injuries.


  • Provide adequate stretching and warm-up exercises before a class begins. This will improve student flexibility, warm up muscles & tendons and reduce potential range of motion injuries.
  • Watch for students who may be overheating, nearing physical exhaustion, recovering from an injury, etc. Allow these students to take a break, get some water, etc.
  • Keep a first aid kit and ice packs available in order to deal with cuts, scrapes, bruises, etc.
  • Learn CPR in order to deal with a potential emergency.
  • Develop safety procedures to deal with accidents and injuries. These procedures should be understood and practiced by all instructors (i.e. what to do if a student has a concussion or broken leg).
  • Do not allow any roughhousing or horse play by your students.
  • One size does not fit all. Tailor the physical activity in your class towards its student base (i.e. adults, teens or children).
  • Carefully monitor situations where two students are paired together (i.e. sparring matches or self-defense training). It is easy for a student to accidentally injure another student due to poor technique, being overly aggressive, etc.
  • Carefully monitor and supervise any training with martial arts weapons (i.e. Katana). Students should learn techniques with practice weapons (i.e. Shinai - bamboo sword). Many schools ban the use of non-practice martial arts weapons in order to reduce the potential for injury and possible lawsuits. Also visit our page on martial arts weapons safety.

Poll - Most Serious Martial Arts Injuries

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  1. Mayo Clinic, Dehydration,, Added - 10/23/14
  2. Colorado Kodenkan, Safety in the Dojo/Training Area: Why Live Weapons in Class Are a Bad Idea,, Added - 10/23/14

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