Potential injuries are a reality of every physical endeavor, and we can usually find a way to work around them depending on their severity. However, martial arts injury prevention is a different story, where even a common low-grade injury can keep your students from attending class. For example, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a form of martial arts that requires the student to be in many different positions, from standing on their feet to lying on their back. If a student has lower back pain, many lessons that begin from standing, like takedown variations, are going to be nearly impossible for this student to tolerate. If a student has a strained hip flexor, many lessons that begin from the back, in closed guard, are likely going to be painful for this student.
The good news is this; you can encourage injury prevention and healthy lifestyles among your students without stepping outside of the scope of your martial art. Here are a few ways to start.
Encourage Proper Nutrition
As you know, every martial art is more than just a curriculum, they are lifestyles and a holistic approach to well-being. With that, you can easily encourage your students to eat and drink healthy without becoming a registered dietician. Do you have a weekly email newsletter? Perfect; find a nutrition resource you trust and share an easy-to-understand blog or video in each week’s newsletter. Do you want to take it to the next level? If so, identify a local nutrition expert and invite them in to do a nutrition seminar. You may even choose to charge an entry fee for this and open it up to the public, now becoming an additional revenue and lead generation source.
Provide Fitness Education
One of the keys to martial arts injury prevention is education. With countless methodologies and schools of thought, fitness can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. Depending on your martial art, there may be a fitness system that aligns with your practice the best. Whatever that exercise mode is, one thing is for sure, a physical fitness regimen decreases the likelihood of injury and other health events. This is another scenario where you can leverage your current communication channels, like an email newsletter, and share helpful fitness tips each week from a reliable source. Once again, you can take this to the next level by bringing in a fitness expert to do a seminar. Fitness can go in many directions beyond “fitness,” like inviting in physical therapists and other healthcare professionals who will have direct expertise on injury and disease prevention.
More Class Options
For some martial arts who can’t deviate from their art’s tradition, this will not be an option. However, a great way to make students feel more comfortable and prevent injury is to offer an adaptive or slower-paced class option. For students rehabbing an injury, this will get them back earlier. For older students concerned about getting injured, this will make them feel more comfortable, more likely to join your school and attend regularly. Using Brazilian jiu-jitsu as an example again, some schools offer a class type called “Flow Roll.” Flow Roll is all about movement and begins with a long dynamic warm-up specifically designed for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The goal of this warm-up is to increase flexibility and mobility, especially around the hips. The last half of class is usually training but at a much different pace. Flow Roll training takes place at half speed, and the goal is to slowly practice your moves, allow your partner to practice their moves if they have the advantage and never stop moving. In addition to this example of Flow Roll, some martial arts instructors are certified fitness specialists and actually teach flexibility, mobility and conditioning classes at their schools.
Connecting the Dots
Whatever your strategy is for improving student retention by keeping your students healthy, the most important thing for a school owner is to connect the dots between martial arts, nutrition and fitness. Everyone benefits when the focus is on total well-being.
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