Are You Prepared?

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Apr 14th, 2013

Are You Prepared?

One of our associates reported an injury that occurred in a local Martial Arts studio a few months ago. It was a simple case of a beginner student who had his toenail torn off in an accident on the training floor. The injury was not life threatening but it did bleed profusely. What our observer witnessed next astonished both him and me. The studio had none of the First Aid supplies required to take care of this or any injury. None of the studio’s instructors were currently trained in First Aid / CPR. There was no Antimicrobial cleaning solution to wash and disinfect the blood spill on the training mat. As a Health and Safety professional you can only imagine what was racing through my mind as I pictured the situation unfolding. How can instructors who train with physical contact be unprepared for accidents that can occur during that training? This situation prompted me ask more questions;
How complete is the First Aid Kit at your studio? Are the studio’s instructors trained in First Aid / CPR? Also, you don’t have to work in health care to need some working knowledge of bloodborne pathogens. Exposure to bloodborne pathogens can occur in any industrial, service, or office setting; wherever people are working there’s always the possibility an accident. Any contact with blood to your skin, eyes, and mucous membranes may exposure you to disease carrying microorganisms.
Bloodborne pathogens are bacteria and viruses present in blood or other body fluids which can cause disease. These pathogens include, but are not limited to,
• Hepatitis B virus (HBV),
• Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and
• Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
•Malaria, etc.
Your best defense against infection is not to come into contact with blood or other infectious materials. When blood does get spilled it’s important to be able to clean it up and disinfect the spill area to limit everyone’s possible exposure to disease carrying organisms.
About a year ago, I was teaching a seminar in a Mixed Martial Arts gym, when I, too, was injured. I also damaged one of my toes. Unfortunately, I experienced the same situation as the student in the story above.
None of the required First Aid supplies were in the studio's First Aid Kit.
There was no Antimicrobial cleaning solution to wash and disinfect the blood spill on the training floor.
Luckily, I was trained in First Aid/CPR, but how effective could my training be without the necessary First Aid supplies for my injury or the right cleaner to decontaminate the mat?
I’ve studied the Martial Arts for 40 years, so I’ve seen my share of bleeding toes, as well as, broken noses, cracked ribs, concussions, etc. As a HSE professional whose job is to assure the health and safety of my company’s employees every day, I began to wonder, “Just how many studios are out there operating with this clearly inadequate standard of student care.”
I produced this video,
in an ardent desire to have martial arts instructors and especially, studio owners, consider whether they have the necessary skills and training to properly deal with injuries in their training environment.
Please take the opportunity to view the video and ask yourself, as an instructor, student, concerned parent, etc., “Am I prepared?”
If you have questions concerning:
Controlling exposure to bloodborne pathogens
The studio’s requirement to comply with certain federal laws (OSHA) concerning employee and public safety
Or First Aid and CPR training with a specific focus on Martial Arts studios
Contact me at or
Don’t wait until blood gets spilled. Find out what you can do about it before it happens.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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