Every year, Ikazuchi Dojo compiles operating metrics to get a numerical snapshot of the dojo. We are fortunate to have enough aikido students and infrastructure to collect a meaningful amount of data.
There are many important things in a dojo that can’t be measured with numbers. But many can.
One thing that can, and should be measured, is injury rates. We think it’s important because with high injury rates, a dojo will face massive attrition or will be forced to water down its training. We don’t like either option.
Ikazuchi Dojo students have fun and train in a lighthearted way. However, almost all of them take their development pretty seriously. Our average age is 37 and we have a number of students in their 50’s and 60’s. These people can really move and they can really throw.
If our injury rates were high, these students would never be able to develop in this manner. Recovery time from injuries is a major training setback and the perception of a high risk of injury inhibits trust and committed training.
Injuries do happen at Ikazuchi Dojo, but how risky is our training really? For years after our founding, we had no clue. Now we track injury rates and quantify them using the standard metric employed in professional sports – number of injuries per 1,000 hours of training.
As a benefit of using this metric, we can not only compare against our own historical data, but we can see how we compare against other activities.
We’ve been able to get our injury rates down to around 1.5 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. Riding a stationary bike at the gym has an average injury rate of 2 per 1,000 hours. Basketball is 14.
Since we started tracking these metrics, we’ve been able to test different training methods and instructional strategies and objectively see if they improve safety without compromising the integrity of the practice. We also get insight into any correlations between injuries and specific students, instructors, techniques, or practice formats.
Additionally, we now have the benefit of being able to quantify risk to dojo members and prospective students. Training in the martial arts does have inherent risk, but that risk can vary greatly from art to art and school to school.
Those with a dream of becoming a marital artist often hesitate to begin training due to preconceived ideas about how much and how often they’ll get hurt. This is especially true for doctors, professional athletes, musicians, and other individuals whose livelihood depends on optimal use of their bodies. Now we can offer objective metrics to everyone so they can make informed training decisions.
We’d love it if you share this post with other martial arts schools. We seek to learn more about what others are doing to track injury rates and reduce training risk without removing the martial effectiveness of their training methods.
Our systems and metrics are far from perfect. We know there are things we can do to improve our success in this area.
Also, please let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we’ve implemented our injury tracking system. If there’s interest, we’d be happy to share how we track, analyze, and respond to our metrics.