This isn't any easy thread to write, but I'll do the best I can with it. Understand that I write it with the best of intentions in mind.
In all the years I have taught, I've taken an injury in one of my classes as an opportunity to learn something. The most pressing matter of course was immediately to deal with the injury and get the individual better as soon as possible. But I've always insisted in a debriefing afterwards. And I've taken what was learned from the debriefing and treated it as an opportunity for others not to make such a mistake.
For now I'll keep this relatively brief.
The person involved is a fairly highly-ranked martial artist who came to me years ago as a raw talent and a product of someone else's effort to teach Uechi Ryu. In the past when I got such a person, I tried to over-teach them and mold them to what I thought was right. But in this case I discovered someone who had both raw talent and some unusual ways of performing our techniques. This person "got" the martial principles. I was dealing with a diamond in the rough, but it was precious material for sure. So over time my approach to teaching was not to show what should be done, but instead remove what shouldn't be there. I knew there would be enough spontaneous learning without me suggesting a lot. My job was just to clean it up and see what remained.
At some point the individual came to me and remarked that George was having this "world tournament" and did I think it might be cool to enter. Well, I thought, this is an opportunity to treat a public event like a practice nidan test. So I said "Sure, why not?" Much to my surprise, the student came back with a first place kata trophy in hand. I didn't realize we had progressed that much, but we had.
Now this individual is one of my instructors, and teaches where I can't be.
Well... I encourage my students to explore. I encourage them to go off on their own paths and do new things. And all my students understand that I walk a fine line between being safe and being realistic. There is a right place to be in your practice.
I teach Okinawan kobudo and I teach some Filipino knife and stick. I have a nice bo, sai, and tonfa kata that I teach, I'm learning an eiku form, and I teach "flash nunchaku" strictly for hand coordination.
I do not teach kama.
My student decided to learn a kama form from tape. So the student purchases live, sharpened blades and tries to learn a first-ever kama form from scratch off a tape.
The student almost completely cut hand off. The blade cut cleanly through all tendons, arteries, nerves, and veins, and ligaments that attached ulna and radius to the hand bones. There was just a bit of flesh left holding it all together. This was done while practicing the form alone, in the kitchen, out in a country home away from everyone. Fortunately the ambulance that came took the student straight to The Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, which is a Level I trauma center. The head of plastic surgery and a chief resident took the case on. There were/are issues with financing, but we're talking about a teaching hospital. All the good things that needed to happen did happen. Hand was reattached.
It's 5 days later, and I finally got the story first-hand from the victim. Thankfully I didn't need to preach. The gravity and sheer stupidity of it all was understood. I came up with the phrase "martial moron", and it was received with a hearty laugh.
This is far from over and there are many issues ahead. But for now... we all can learn. Something..