Its a hard knock life as an uchi-deshi. I’ve endured numerous injuries, ranging from annoying to those that make training difficult and unenjoyable.

The most common is your run of the mill scratch or bruise usually from someone stepping on your foot or landing on it with their knee. Scratches are most often from people who do not trim their claws.

Next is the split toenail that results from catching it on a crack in the mat or someone kicking your foot at a certain angle.

One of the most annoying of the common injuries is when the skin on the bottom of your feet splits because its dried out and overstretched. This crack commonly occurs between the little toe and the foot, making seiza and most techniques sting.
A good remedy for this is to simply wear socks or slippers all the time when you’re not training. To be a bit more aggressive a deshi might cover the area in petroleum jelly or castor oil and then wear socks over it at night.

There are the muscle pulls and strains that also occur frequently. My advice on these is simply to rest the affected area as much as possible. To prevent such a thing from happening, don’t be lazy, take proper ukemi and remain aware of your surroundings, also stretch before class and drink plenty of water.

Now I will speak of the slightly more serious injuries that one can accrue. In my own experience, my knees were just fine before I got here. Now they pop and click constantly. I cannot sit in seiza for longer than it takes to bow in to class without experiencing pain. I have been told this is because of my height. I have somewhat eased the pain by adjusting my ukemi to be slightly less flexible as in I fall earlier than I used to to avoid hyper flexing my knees.

The next injury I just recovered from is a head injury. I was too slow to move out of the way of a very enthusiastic shomenuchi and the result was a headache for two weeks. I’m fairly sure I had a slight concussion, but I’ll never know for sure because I didn’t find the time to get it checked out. The headache wouldn’t have lasted so long if I had been allowed a day or two off of practicing, but no such luck. The best I could get was an evening off of classes.

My first class ever at New York Aikikai two years ago I separated my shoulder when I took poor ukemi for a koshinage. It went “pop” and then hurt a lot.

I have also seen some grizzly injuries. One member partially tore his ACL in his knee. He was out of practice for a few months. One black belt candidate tore his big toe open to the bone and still tested anyway with the limitation of no knee work allowed.

I’ve heard of elbow and collar bone breaks before but never seen any, so I think those are fairly rare occurances.

All in all Aikido is worth the pain and medical bills. Most injuries can be prevented by watching out for both yourself and your uke.