I've been concerned for some time about concussions. I've never had one, but came very close in the Toughman Contest in 1991, when a fighter who was bigger and a lot younger hit me upside the head and caused me to go numb for a few seconds. My brain was vibrating like a tuning fork, but it cleared quickly and I was able to win the match. The top photo here shows the punch that nearly rang my bell. The bottom photo shows me snapping his head back a few seconds later after my head cleared. I hit him hard in the head a few times during the match.
I did not want to do that again.
I've always believed that you don't have to get hurt or hurt someone else to learn martial arts and be a good fighter. I have proven over the years that I can take a punch. I just don't like to take a punch, and have nothing to prove by taking another one at my age.
An article in my local paper today talks about the damage teens suffer when they have concussions in sports. Football contributes most to this problem, but the implications are clear for fighting arts that involve hard hits to the head. The study offers some scary information about the damage teens suffer from getting in fights.
Click this link and read the article about the damage done by concussions.
A year or so ago, I kept seeing a young MMA fighter at the gym. He was a nice kid, maybe in his early 20s, and one night I asked if he had ever had a concussion.
"Three of them," he said proudly. I was horrified.
"Man, you have to stop this," I said, but he just grinned. He was training for his next fight.
He will pay a terrible price. It's a shame he too young to realize it. If you are a martial arts teacher, you need to watch out for your students. If you are a student, understand that your body will pay a price for every cement block you try to break, for every block of ice, for every stack of boards, and for every hard punch you take to the head.