Recommended reading: “Constant Alertness needed to Avoid Dojo Injuries” by Stanley Pranin

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

It’s been my experience that this type of injury could have occurred almost anywhere in the aikido world. It is amazing to me that otherwise intelligent and prudent people will abandon their normal attitude of alertness when immersed in the warmth of the “family atmosphere” of an aikido dojo. I have practiced and observed aikido in numerous countries and it is not uncommon to see classes conducted under crowded conditions where injuries can easily happen. The danger is especially great during ki no nagare practice where big, flowing movements are used. Apart from a few words of admonition from the teacher in charge to be careful, I have seldom seen a systematic approach to insure a safe training environment. Students tend to throw freely into any open space.

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  1. A salient feature of the Daito Ryu videos is the care and awareness exercised between techniques.

  2. I would use these words in the title instead of “Avoid Dojo Injuries:” “Maintain Dojo Safety.” The first has negative connotations and evokes bad feelings, while the second does the opposite.

  3. If anyone reading this hasn’t read the whole article, here are a couple of its points. Throw parallel toward the outside of the mat. If it’s still too crowded, work in groups: one person throws each person in the group, then the next in line takes their place. Working parallel is still smart. Not mentioned is that pinning techniques are relatively low energy. There is also the possibility of suwari waza. There’s less kinetic energy involved and the techniques are inherently more compact. Another option Saito sensei used was to omit the throw. Take the technique to a stretch.

    There is a skill in avoiding other falling bodies. That sort of spacial awareness is probably also good for multiple person attack. But if you don’t preserve and enhance the strength of the tool you use, your body, all the knowledge in the world won’t allow you to do good technique.

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