Bleeding Disorders and Martial Arts

How kids can train without getting bleeds
Author: Heather Boerner

Do you ever pretend you are a karate master?

Sneaking behind the sofa, you spy your enemy—the cat. And then…

Hiiii-yah!

But you should get training first. You will get to wear one of those white jackets and wrap it up with a white belt. In time you could get a black belt, and know how to deal with bullies and protect yourself.

Karate and other martial arts can give you a place to punch and kick where your mom won’t yell at you and the cat won’t hiss. But you have a bleeding disorder, so is it safe for you?

The good news is that a lot of martial arts, such as karate, kung fu and tae kwon do, are great exercise, great fun and pretty safe—at least to start. Plus, unlike team sports, you can learn at your own pace. If you get a bleed and need to take a break, your new instructor, your friends and the mat will be there for you when you’re back!

Other forms of martial arts, such as judo and jujitsu, are rougher. That means more chances to get punched, kicked or hit in the head. Ouch! That could cause a big bruise or a bleed, and nobody wants that.

Dojo Mojo

Your parents will look for just the right martial arts academy, or dojo, for you. They’ll watch a few classes and see how safe it is. Then they’ll talk to your instructor about your bleeding disorder. After you sign up for classes, you and your parents can meet with your instructor to talk about making some of the moves safer and what to do if you get a bleed.

Earn Your Belts

Now that you’ve got your white jacket and white belt, it’s time to get busy! You will learn all kinds of new things, like blocks, punches and kicks. With some careful planning and hard work, you could have a black belt in just a few years. But it’s not all work. You’ll find friends in your classes, too. Some students become teacher’s assistants. Some join elite performance teams that perform for other people. But just about all students can learn to demonstrate controlled punches, kicks and pivots, known as forms, in class and in public.

The key to keeping it safe and fun is to focus on proper control and form. Actions can be changed if you have problems with your knees or ankles. Just ask your instructor. He or she will be happy to help.

Later, you may even get to learn to twirl and defend yourself with a bo staff—a weapon that looks like a walking stick—or nunchucks, two shorter staffs connected by a chain. There’s no contact, and you get to feel how strong your body is. If Mom and Dad say it’s OK, you might be able to compete.

Board breaking, grappling and sparring are more likely to cause bleeds. It will be up to your mom and dad, and your team at your hemophilia treatment center, to decide if those are safe for you.

So get out there and become that karate master you always knew you could be!