The Yomiuri Shimbun
Students are two to three times more likely to suffer an injury if martial art lessons are conducted in school gymnasiums rather than at facilities dedicated to martial arts, according to a recent Education, Science and Technology Ministry survey.
Currently, middle school students can select the martial art they wish to take up.
From academic 2012 onward, martial arts will become a compulsory subject at middle schools.
However, in academic 2007, only 46 percent of schools had dojo, which are purpose-built for martial arts use. (The figure excludes state-run middle schools.)
In response to the latest figures, the ministry has called on schools to pay more attention to students’ safety.
The survey was conducted by the National Agency for the Advancement of Sports and Health, a body affiliated with the ministry.
According to the survey results, in academic 2007 there were 13,141 cases of injuries suffered during either judo club activities or judo lessons in middle schools across the country.
Of them, 4,402 injuries were suffered at dojo.
By contrast, 8,739 students were injured when they practiced judo in multipurpose school halls or school gymnasiums laid with gym mats or tatami mats.
A similar trend was reported for kendo. There were 1,285 cases of injuries suffered during kendo practice at dojo.
In comparison, the number of injuries jumped more than threefold to 4,133 when the students practiced at school gymnasiums.
In particular, there were many cases of students who broke toes after their feet got caught between gym or tatami mats, which tend to slip out of position when judo is practiced on them.
As for kendo, there were many cases of students getting injured when they hit their feet on metal fixtures set in the floor of the gym that support posts used during sports such as volleyball.
The ministry has advised schools to stop martial art lessons and realign mats whenever they slide out of position during martial arts practice and also to make students aware of the presence of metal fixtures in gym floors to prevent them injuring themselves.
Meanwhile, a separate survey carried out by the agency revealed that there were about 275,000 cases of sports injuries suffered by middle school students in the 2006 academic year.
The vast majority of these injuries–210,000, or 76.3 percent–were suffered in ball games, mainly soccer and basketball.
The Yomiuri Shimbun