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Like many of you, I have heard every excuse under the sun for why someone can't make it to train.  One of the most annoying and unbelievable, that seems to be on the rise, is for a wife to forbid her husband from training, "because you get hurt." 

Am I alone in hearing this excuse?  When did it become acceptable in our society for this to occur?

I can name off ten guys in the last year alone that quit training a few classes in because their wives didn't like them getting bruised and sore...


A lot of good feedback, but as is apt to happen, the focus has shifted. The original posting had to do with being sore and having insignificant bruising being used as an excuse to not train. The circumstances mentioned do not involve broken or dislocated bones/joints, injuries that affect movement or the ability to function, or even psychological stressors that damage the psyche.

The individuals I am discussing, who trained under a variety of instructors, received expected soreness from using muscles they do not normally use and minor bruises from their bodies being contacted in manners they were unaccustomed.

These individuals represent data I am collecting for research studies. For example, a male, age 28, developed a solitary blister approximately 1/4" in diameter on his palm from using a stick for 15 minutes in a two hour class. That was enough for him to use his wife's "concern for his well-being" to end his training after one month of training.

Again, we are not discussing 'injuries' above and beyond minor bruising and soreness. My research is concerned with the phenomenon of spouses advocating quitting or their concern being used as a reason to stop.

Thanks for all of the feedback so far! :)

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Hello GM Malmo!

I have a couple of points to add.

First, I've been party to when a wife became and issue in working out and running an ISP.  Yep, you read that right.  She held meetings with the teams that I assembled for my own business, against me.  These are things that people need to work out when they are dating.  In case you're wondering, I'm not married to that individual any longer.

Second, coming from a hockey family, I don't think many people who were not hard core athletes know that they can apply massage therapy to a bruise, ice, warmth, and re-ice.  It is something you learn in full contact sports and you may have to teach them the first day so that they pick up on it.  If you see a bruise on their arm, leg, then ask them when the last time they massaged the pooled blood under their skin.  There is no excuse for not massaging that pooled blood and trying to open the damaged tissue up to the circulatory system so that white blood cells can carry damaged tissue away, and healing can progress.

Miss all of you!  Take care.



Tommy, I agree with your approach. Remember one branch of FMA dealt with healing.

When a student gives an excuse for stopping training, I'm just saying don't brush it off, don't call him a wimp, think about what you are doing.

There may be a person who is being bullied who really needs the Art but is feeling afraid because the class looks too brutal. There may be people who need their hands (piano players, for one) who need and want FMA. There should be something available for them.

Look at people who ARE being bullied. Isn't this thread title a type of bullying?

Of course it's also about the spouse seeing the relationship as part of a team, and if this is really what's happening, that's a different issue. She's subverting and controlling. It's not about some guy being a wuss.

Sorry John, though I won't say you are 'wrong', I will say that actually getting injured is NOT an essential part of martial arts training.

I have a very tight armbar and a very good guillotine choke, and I have never been injured or injured a student when using or applying these.

I have good stick work and have only injured a student once, and that was when he refused to wear safety glasses.

Consider the people we need to train the most, the elderly, females and perhaps children. Are you going to say they can NOT learn effective MA or effective weapons used because they have low pain tolerance or low durability? NOT AT ALL. That's why I say the most effective MA must be based on low attribute methods (primarily).

If your MA requires that you be an acrobat, have high pain tolerance or must first be Bruce Lee, then you are not adapting the methods to the people who need it most.

Let students have their excuses, but listen to them, understand that getting injured in training is ironic, because they are, in fact, training so they are not injured by an assailant.

For serious self defense needs, get a firearm. Train at the range and take up jogging and swimming to improve your energy (big engine/smaller body).

I win most of my engagements because of my superior footwork and endurance and burst energy, NOT because I hurt people and make them afraid of me.

FWIW. Good discussion, despite differing views.

Inherent risk - not necessary outcome.  Quite the difference.  ;)

Also, when the occasional injury does occur, it provides opportunity to work on the healing aspects.  :)

I have trained with you, and you are an amazing teacher. I truly can't wait to come back and work with you again, John :)
Whoever this is giving you an excuse that they are allowing their mate to put panties on them, needs to get their priorities, and Fruit of the Looms in order.
We are human, in physical bodies, that go through pain in order to grow and adapt to things. There is no positive physical change without pain. You can change for the worse with no ill effect, other than huge doctor bills later, and a shortened life. It's easy to get out of shape, and you remain in a constant state of comfort. You cannot achieve anything in this life without the will, focus, and PAIN, during the adaptation process. With Martial Arts, that is the whole point anyway. Train hard, and feel the pain during training, so that you can share the pain when you need to.
"Martial"....."To be warlike"
"Art"....."The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination"
How can one decide to practice Martial Arts and expect to not get hurt here and there with a definition like this?

I had a bit of insight that I think might be helpful.

Are we actually talking, not about injury, but about "pain". I think dealing with pain, suffering, and learning to redefine pain are very important concepts in training.

In fact, at least once a month you should be upping your training level or going into the area right above the V02max zone, such that you feel the beginnings of having to throw up.

I go into the V02max zone or 98% of the HRmax (maximum heart rate (adjusted by age)) such that even at my age, I get HR that many 20 and 30 year olds do not get, and I do this about once a week in sprinting on my road bike.

I also go into the max zone in underwater swimming and breath hold swimming and at my age I can still swim two laps (50 yards+) underwater, however I do it with short flippers and no arm stroke (dolphin kick).

I'm now training to swim the entire length of the over-size Olympic pool where I live which is, I think about 75 yards. Yesterday with minimal training I got about 3/4 of that length.

Back to pain, if you can use pain in your workouts, mainly internal pain, pushing past thresholds, learning to actively recover and breath restrict on recovery (i.e. breathing through your nose which restricts flow), and deal with lactate clearance (muscle pain) you will find rapid improvement. Is there pain in FMA without 'injury'? Perhaps. I would rather send my student through the gauntlet (fighting multiple opponents) who push them, but the bruising, the smashed knuckles is minimal. Every time you have an injury it sets back your training and this is a prime rule. Training builds like a pyramid, and we must maximize our training time and our training 'dollar'. (Training dollar means training the right things at the right time).

So I would say if you find you can enter new training zones and reinterpret pain such that you can tolerate more suffering then you are improving. If you are going to class but having to sit out because of a wrenched arm or a strained back and can only participate at 50% then you are training futilely and the slope of your improvement, the steepness of your 'pyramid' is flatter. You're essentially losing time.

Train hard, train smart, learn to self-coach, avoid injuries at all costs.

Also remember that of the people that start MA about 90% of them drop out before reaching black belt. Thus, giving an excuse to quit training is the norm. Why do so many MA drop out? They are training wrong, or I should say 'being trained' wrong. The right training should bring you through to at least age 70. (there are guys in my area still riding criterions and group rides at age 68). The fault may be in the way MA focuses and that means too caught up on the Macho BS. Bikers are tough, tough people. Most of you could not keep up with your average national class 55 yo female triathlon rider. Give me a month with someone like that, with some minimal stick work and she's beating most of your advanced guys on guts and lungs alone.

How many of you can go 6 minutes with bursts doing fast double stick flow? Try it and report back.

You make some fair points. But there are inherent differences between grappling and striking arts. As for most effective FMA being low attribute methods? I think this misses the point, attributes enhance (or don't) technical skill that is already had. Being bigger faster stronger will always be an advantage. Being weak, slow, old, will never be considered an advantage. But I think what you are getting at is an emphasis on technical skill. If you have technical skill as you age muscle may fail but technical ability will still remain. But bigger younger skilled guys will have an advantage. The old warrior sage archetype is not reality, old skilled men may have an advantage over old unskilled men and even weak unskilled youth, thee are a few video around if old guys kicking ass. IMO the most effective ma are the ones that are pressure tested. In many cases these are sport systems. In your bjj example, bjj is effective because every class you roll with resisting opponents, even at lower intensities you get feedback from an uncooperative opponent. But bjj is fundamentally different from a striking art like FMA. To get the same quality resistance training in FMA you risk bumps and bruises.


Not at all, ask any MA who has been around which art/sport causes the most injuries, almost without fail. That's Judo. Judo guys are almost always missing fingernails (grip fighting), have taped fingers, sprains, knee surgeries.

Again, WHO do we really need to teach MA to? Big TOUGH GUYS? NO, no, no. We need to teach our children, females and the elderly. If your MA is inaccessible to the weaker, the disadvantaged, the females then it's pretty much worthless, because some day all you guys will be old. Some day your wife may need to defend herself and if she is only learning 'injurious FMA' and has no stick and is, in fact, nursing a sprained ankle, she may end up in the hospital or worse.

We really need to eliminate the machismo from martial arts. Back in the day we had a guy who used to cut his knuckles with razor blades and then heal them in salt water. He practiced hitting stuff and had big calloused knuckles. But he never did any bag work, rarely sparred. But he strutted around. Could he fight? Nope. But he looked tough.

I think very few of the current FMA players could withstand the kind of training they had in the Phillipines back in the day where they used to aim for the hand, not the stick. Many people dropped out. Now we know via the Dog Brothers that you must use gear, and you must, slowly, over time, reduce the gear to a minimum. We must use eye protection.

So should I call for all you guys to spar someone 30lbs heavier and 3" taller and not use any protection? It's what your female students face. How are their injuries helping them now? But train your females to use a firearm, to learn ground grappling in addition to FMA, teach them how to conserve energy and let the BG get tired, NOW, you've got a pretty good system.

For those still unconvinced, check out this list:

Top fighters who won frequently by not being hit:
1. Willie Pep
2. M. Ueshiba
3. John LaCoste
4. 10th Degree BB Judo Mifune (
5. Angel Cabales

Are some injuries inevitable. Probably. But they should be infrequent. What would you say if your firearm instructor said 'you guys are not getting injured enough, line up for a pistol whipping!'. Silly, huh?

Now, understand I'm arguing counterpoint, sort of Devil's Advocate. Look up the idea of 'non-attribute based training'. It emphasizes using skill, leverage and other things available to people who are not inherently gifted or strong or fast. Strong, fast people don't need a martial art.


I'll explain myself a little more, I'm not sure you picked up on my points. First, judo may have injury risks, but do you think it is useless for small people? No, small people will become stronger if they train, and also risk getting injured. I don't advocate a tough guy attitude and reckless training. Yes weaker people should learn martial arts. I don't know of any systems where size and strength are a prerequisite, even sumo has "smaller" guys. If I'm training with a smaller person km not advocating use of size or strength to beat them. Such an insinuation is ridiculous. But smaller people who train properly will become stronger, and strength is advantageous. Intensity can be a gradual process and can be scaled to the student, but it must be increased over time. The body will adjust to intensity and perform better with repetition. I'm not saying let's throw old lady's and children into a live rattan match at day one, or ever. I personally wouldn't spar live rattan without head gear either. As for top fighters who won without being hit? With the exception of #4 and #1 (I don't know that name) all we have are anecdotes, we didn't see these fights so I don't think they present much evidence.

I think what you are saying is from a stance of Martial Arts training for the sake of training and having a cool little program or something. I'm talking about for real life self defense in a real life situation, where there are multiple attackers who probably also have weapons. I'm not laying down on the ground with one, when there are many. Also, if you never feel what a hit can do, then you are not prepared for one......period.
You can have the prettiest form around, when applying your techniques, but that won't guarantee that you won't get hit. In fact, if you approach a fight with the expectation to be hit, and know what that feels like, and have your timing down to move with it, because that is the essence of your training (reality), chances are greater that you won't be knocked out.
Not saying there isn't a place for "perfect" technique training, because there is. And obviously you "pressure test" your techniques to make them tighter, etc.....But after that comes chaos be prepared for actual chaos.

Mike Tyson — "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."

"Old school Martial Artists trained this way. Basics, basics under pressure, then Randori, etc.....Chaos......You can't do the first two, ignore the third, and call yourself "ready".

Not really sure what is meant by ---
"But there are inherent differences between grappling and striking arts. As for most effective FMA being low attribute methods? I think this misses the point, attributes enhance (or don't) technical skill that is already had."-----pretty much any of that. ---------"But bjj is fundamentally different from a striking art like FMA. To get the same quality resistance training in FMA you risk bumps and bruises."------or that....

Getting hit to learn how not to get hit, is how the Gracies themselves learned to be ready. It's how every Aikido practitioner learns (supposed to anyway). Traditional Judo trains against strikes and they work up to real time with it later on.

The essence of any worthy training, includes some risk of "danger" or injury. The human brain is designed to keep us from harm.....once it understands what the harm is. It makes us faster, and creates REAL attributes and experience, as opposed to "do it this way, because 80 years ago for some reason they did it like that....not sure why, but yeah :P "

It's funny watching new boxers get hit for the first time in sparring, then immediately start swinging more wildly, and footwork goes to crap. Suddenly they start getting hit even more, as all they "learned" goes straight out the window. Over time, they get used to getting hit, and it becomes just another part of what they are doing. They learn to stay more and more focused with every match, until eventually, they turn into boxers. The knowledge training and application training have now become one. Same holds true with any art. Pain makes you better. You obviously don't need it every session, and you may even avoid it all together for a while....but it is going to happen some time, if you are training to actually use an art, and not just say you can :P

Not sure who you're addressing here, you seemed to agree with me but you quoted me so i'll explain. First, one must take a punch and actually fight to learn how to apply it to reality. Compliant drills and training offer a certain level of benefit and some people may not want to take it any high than that, but it will never be better than higher intensity sparring. Since everyone loves Bruce Lee, I believe he mentioned something about learning how to swim on dry land as a parallel to training martial arts without fighting. Being the hipster elitist that I am :) , I'm tired of Bruce Lee quotes so I'll leave it at that.

As for my quote ---"But there are inherent differences between grappling and striking arts. As for most effective FMA being low attribute methods? I think this misses the point, attributes enhance (or don't) technical skill that is already had."----- Are you really sure you don't see what I'm getting at? Watch a boxing match, a judo match, a bjj match, and a WEKAF match, make a list of noteable differences and get back to me....

In a street fight, I see no difference, since there is the threat of bodily harm regardless. You can be punched, kicked, choked, stabbed or shot. Studying various fighting methods for over 37 years affords me the option to not watch any matches and get back to you. You typed the can address your own meaning behind them.
Actually, it seems that we agree for the most part, so responding to me to begin with was a waste of my time. I can only assume you wanted to see yourself type.


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