Every sport contains an element of risk, but some martial arts are particularly high risk due to the techniques they involve.
Martial arts instructors therefore have a duty of care to their students, to prevent them from sustaining serious injuries.
Here are 5 key steps you can take to ensure your martial arts classes are as safe as possible.
Make sure your students have the right protective equipment
Your students will already own some protective martial arts gear – but have they got everything they need to be safe in your martial arts classes?
Although the equipment they need depends on the martial art you’re instructing, there are a few essentials.
They’ll need headgear to help prevent concussion and brain injuries, mouth guards to protect the teeth and minimise the risk of concussions and wraps to help prevent hand and wrist fractures.
If they wear glasses, they need safety glasses or glass guards to protect the eyes, and if they’re sparring, they need reversible body armour and specialist gloves.
Shin guards and cups are also important if they’re practising such disciplines as karate, Muay Thai and kickboxing. Some less essential (but still important) items include ear guards and knee pads.
Carry out a risk assessment before each class
As a specialist martial arts insurance provider, we know just how crucial risk assessments are. You’d be surprised how many claims we get relating to incidents that could have been eradicated or accounted for by conducting a risk assessment.
Your risk assessment should include key information such as:
- Potential hazards that may cause slips, trips and falls
- The risk factors of potential hazards, i.e. on the scale of 1 to 10, how likely are these hazards to materialise?
- Who is at risk, their physical abilities and level of experience
- The control measures you’ve put in place to minimise these hazards
It may also be useful to create a questionnaire for participants so that you can assess the risk to them (e.g. pre-existing injuries, medical conditions, etc).
You should also regularly review your risk assessments to consider any new equipment you may use or any new environments in which you’re likely to train.
Conduct a thorough warm-up routine to help prevent injuries
A good warm-up is essential when you’re teaching students how to punch, grapple and kick.
Research has shown that cold muscles do not stretch to a full range of motion and that a light warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles, which increases strength and flexibility.
Conducting a thorough warm-up routine therefore enables your students to practise techniques at high speed, without sustaining serious injuries and potentially making a claim against you.
Your warm-up routine should last at least five minutes and should incorporate splits, knee pulls, static and dynamic stretches, jumping jacks, jogging and potentially more.
Here’s an example of a full-body martial arts warm-up routine, which includes striking, grappling and wrestling-specific exercises.
Have safeguarding procedures in place if teaching children
Thousands of children, some of whom are as young as four, visit martial arts gyms on a weekly basis.
Therefore, if you teach children, you need to have safeguarding measures in place. This enables them to practise martial arts in a secure environment (and reassures potentially concerned parents!)
These are some of the questions you need to consider:
- What steps will be taken to safeguard the children in your care?
- Will regular reviews be put in place?
- Do you ensure that children are always supervised when you provide activities?
- Are there clear safeguarding procedures on what do if there are concerns about a child?
- Are there clear ways to raise concerns about unacceptable behaviour by staff/volunteers?
Check out this video for more information on the recommended safeguarding procedures employed by martial arts instructors.
Get first aid and CPR training
While getting trained in first aid and CPR isn’t essential for becoming a martial arts instructor, being qualified in these areas helps you respond quickly and effectively to different accidents.
These accidents could be serious but not life-threatening injuries like broken bones, or could be potentially fatal.
For example, if one of your students suffers a cardiac arrest, their chances of survival drop by up to 10% for every minute that passes without CPR. This example alone highlights just what a difference first aid and CPR training could make in one of your classes.
You can either study for a first aid qualification at one of the UK’s top training centres – such as St John’s Ambulance, Discovery Learning or YMCA Fit – or you can take an e-course which is tailored to martial arts instructors.
Once you’re first aid qualified, you should always have a personal first aid kit to hand at your classes. This kit should contain the relevant medications and ointments – and keep a note of their expiry dates!
Taking these precautions will reassure your students that their safety is your number one priority. However, even by being as cautious as possible, accidents can still happen in your martial arts classes.
If you’re held responsible and a claim is made against you, it’s crucial to have the right cover. After all, reputation is so important in the coaching industry and the last thing you want is to come across as negligent.
That’s why you need martial arts instructor insurance. At Insure4Sport, we provide martial arts insurance which is easy-to-buy, jargon-free and offers the best possible value.
Don’t just take our word for it. Get an instant online quote with us today and discover the value of peace of mind.