You wouldn’t just walk up and hit one of your friends in the face, would you?
As previously discussed, contact is the cornerstone of the Dutch method. Impact of any kind depresses the nervous system and being able to tolerate a high volume of contact is a major part of being ‘fighting fit’.
You need to be guided by the fact that you are engaging in a contact sport where injury is not incidental to the play; it is the point.
Because of this, there are some non-negotiable elements of preparation that have to be observed.
- Always wear shin guards, hand wraps and sixteen-ounce gloves.
It’s useful to think of your fists, shins, knees and elbows as essentially bladed weapons. This idea is inherent in the nature of a cut, which has to be stitched.
A blow results in a cut because of the blade of the knuckle, the elbow, the processes of the knee (ligament and tendon attachment sites) and the sharp edge of the shin. In order to achieve a high volume of training, which means showing up for drills and sparring day after day, you need to minimise bruising and cutting.
Any glove lighter than 16 ounces is too dangerous for your partner and won’t provide the necessary protection for you. A second set of hand wraps is highly recommended, also.
2. A mouthguard is essential.
Your teeth will chip and break. In addition, biting down on a mouthguard stabilizes your jaw and makes it more difficult to knock you down.
Mouthguards, no matter how comfortable, are difficult to get used to and are, without practice, a distraction on some level. Only a dentist-fitted mouthguard is comfortable and reliable. You fight the way you train so you have to train realistically.
3. A groin guard is essential.
Mistakes happen. If you get kicked in the gonads, it’s your own fault for not wearing a groin guard.
4. All blood spills must be cleaned up immediately.
If you bleed, you clean it up immediately and that means the gym as well as yourself. Cover any wounds.
5. Be polite and respectful
Always use your manners; these are your training partners, not opponents. Without respect there is no trust. Trust is the foundation of safety in an atmosphere of risk.
6. Report your injuries and their circumstances.
This means breaks, bleeds and cuts without exception. The gym is there to serve you and look after you. Let us do our job.
Have a shower, get your hair off your face, make sure your toenails are short (I have seen people’s faces cut with sharp toenails) and pay careful attention to the fact you don’t stink! Contact sports are physically intimate and it is deeply shocking (or it was to me, at least) how much transmission of bodily fluids takes place.
Tinea is a nasty source of staph infections, particularly on your own feet and bacteria cultures on bags in the sweat of others. Coming down with a staph infection is painful and means a trip to hospital, without a doubt. It’s traumatic and inconvenient.
8. Don’t train if you’re sick.
Because of the high degree of physical intimacy, and this means being close to one another and the transmission of fluids (sweat, saliva, snot and blood – gross, but an unfortunate fact of life), don’t weaken other people and detract from their ambitions by making them ill. This sport is an individual sport, but preparation depends on teamwork – without a shadow of a doubt.
9. Look after your gear.
Make sure your wraps dry out after training and put your gloves somewhere they will reach fresh air and sunlight. Sunlight kills bacteria and prevents both bad odour and disease.