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Liability of martial arts teachers

Liability of martial arts teachers
Part 2 The liability of martial arts teachers during hapkido training
From Dr. Jörg-Michael Günther and GM Gerhard E. Hermanski

Editor's note: The legal texts made available to our magazine by the authors in this article have been carefully researched by the authors, but do not constitute legal advice! This article is for our readers only for guidance! Since our magazine is published worldwide, different laws may apply in your country of origin. This article highlighted the legal situation in Germany in the HAPKIDO magazine flipbook. No liability can be derived either from our publisher or from the authors . If in doubt, contact the legal advice you trust in your region! (uw)
Martial arts teachers at Technikv Law determining a high level of responsibility for your students. As a trainer, you should always be aware of this responsibility from a legal perspective. However, martial arts are not one of the most injury-intensive sports. Classic budo disciplines such as hapkido, karate or judo are statistically harmless compared to football, handball or tennis. However, sports injuries can of course occur in case of falling exercises, throws, grip and strangling techniques, punches and kicks, which are part of the repertoire of hapkido. The causes are often carelessness, attack and defense techniques that are not optimally executed, insufficient training or lack of fitness / speed of reaction. Bruises, strains, swellings and slight overstretching caused by the combat partner can be "normal" and accepted circumstances of intensive martial arts training. After all, it is sometimes also a question of “hardening”. Since the well-being of the injured person is only affected for a short time and not significantly, the legal de minimis limit is hardly reached , Liability of the trainer and the combat partner is then ruled out from the outset. According to the self-image of those involved, normal combat injuries are accepted with ease at Hapkido. Technical errors when applying and performing certain gripping and throwing techniques can hardly be avoided, so that avoiding them as such is not already one of the traffic obligations to be observed by the fighters. Unfortunately, in rare cases, serious sports accidents can occur between martial artists. Regardless of the severity of the injury, case law assumes that there is no liability if you have followed the sporting rules of hapkido. For example, when using levers, one should not go beyond the recognizable pain point and always strictly observe knocking. Arrangements for an exercise must be adhered to, a trainer must point out particular dangers and always keep an eye on the level of training and the individual skills of those involved. The aspect of consent is of central legal importance. Anyone who practices martial arts agrees to be in constant risk of injury and cannot be held liable for any injury. Nobody can take away the normal life risk from practicing martial arts. There is a relatively large amount of liability in this regard if everyone adheres to the rules and principles of fairness and, unfortunately, a more serious sports accident occurs with Hapkido , In the language of the highest German civil court: the injured and the injured expose themselves to the same extent in martial arts, which is only coincidentally realized in the eventual injured. It would be unreasonable if the injured party had to stick , In practice, such cases should be differentiated from cases where a martial arts teacher clearly violated duties of care.

Martial arts teachers naturally have special duties of care, which also include, for example, the proper condition of training objects such as sticks. The burden of proof for their fault is regularly on the injured person. In practice, a lack of clarification or misleading explanation and training instructions often lead to an exercise leading to injury. Sometimes martial arts teachers also do not take into account possible wrong reactions of a student and, for example, their lack of fitness and flexibility or their (low) level of training. The legal principles will be explained using a few example cases from the case law. They come from related duel sports such as judo, jiu-jitsu, taekwondo and karate, since published liability cases from hapkido are not known, which can be seen as a good sign. The following liability principles from other budo areas are legally transferable to Hapkido, however.

In a tragic case at the Cologne Higher Regional Court, a karate instructor's throwing technique caused his pupil to suffer a fracture of the sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae when he fell headfirst onto the training mat. The self-defense exercise should show how to free yourself from a headlock. During the trial, the martial arts student had described how the martial arts master (7th Dan Karate) called him and asked him to put his arm around his neck without further explanation. Then the martial arts teacher threw him up, which ultimately resulted in paraplegia. The court rightly ruled that the martial arts teacher sued for damages and compensation for pain and suffering had violated his duty of care. If the exercise is not explained and the pupil's sudden reaction to incorrect reactions does not count, this leads to liability. The martial arts expert had criticized the lack of security measures in the process, for example the choice of the variant of going down with the student. The martial arts teacher was sentenced to pay pain and suffering ,

In another case, a student had suffered a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament and a meniscus injury during a "martial art taster training" by the martial arts teacher. He had suddenly carried out the so-called "large outside sickle" during a demonstration at the damaged beginner judo. The student's lack of knowledge of fall techniques led to an accident. The martial arts teacher claimed that because of the student's "stable position", he believed that he had judo skills. The court ruled that he had to be clear of beginner status. The aspect of the disclaimer, as it can intervene with peers of the same rank, should not be considered in the relationship between martial arts teachers and martial arts students , The court sentenced the martial arts teacher to liability for acting lightly and violating the principle of fairness. This case clearly shows how important a reasonable communication between martial arts teacher and student is. When in doubt, the martial arts teacher should always clarify the level of training and physical condition of a student during exercises with a high potential for injury.

The Karlsruhe Regional Court, in turn, emphasized the particularities when sparring was carried out during martial arts training and a student was injured by the martial arts teacher: “Even if it was sparring training that involved full contact under competitive conditions, the defendant was due to him Position as a teacher and the associated superior training experience and practice obligated to take into account the inferior skills of the plaintiff and not to strike with such force that they could cause serious injuries if the plaintiff failed to cover the situation - which was to be expected under the circumstances lead here. ”Here too the martial arts teacher had to be liable.
The liability of martial arts teachers also has clear limits and must have them. The Cologne Higher Regional Court, for example, has ruled that a judo teacher is not liable if he orders a dangerous exercise appropriate to the training structure and level of education of the student. Here, the martial arts teacher must take into account factors such as the student's temporary exhaustion, lack of technique and possible wrong reactions. The judo teacher had ordered the so-called Seoi-Nage throw, which was carried out by an advanced judo student (brown belt) with the plaintiff who was seriously injured. There was no evidence that the plaintiff had not mastered the necessary fall techniques or was too exhausted. Here the normal risk of practicing martial arts, which has to be accepted, has been realized. The OLG Hamm also ruled that, exceptionally, in a beginner's course in Shaolin-Kempo martial arts, an overhead throw does not lead to the instructor's liability to an injured martial arts student if the thrown beginner has already completed sufficient case school. In the case, the applicant had suffered a fracture in the thoracic spine. In one case of the LG Trier, someone in turn did not wear safety shoes (so-called safeties) in the training fight during taekwondo; starting the training partner led to a lower leg fracture. The court ruled that the instructor had the duty to point out specific dangers and to ensure that the clothes were properly worn. The injured plaintiff, however, ascribes the accident to himself as a very experienced Taekwondo fighter because he got involved in the fight without any security measures. From the verdict: "Running a sports school for martial arts created a legal obligation for the defendant, who is also the training manager, to keep harmful events away from the students. However, this does not lead to the defendant having to answer for all possible damages. ”This can be fully agreed. As a martial arts student, you cannot “hand over” your own responsibility to the martial arts teacher.

If you summarize the case law on the liability of martial arts teachers, the following principles result:

1. Anyone who practices martial arts accepts a certain risk of injury and cannot hold the martial arts teacher responsible for every training accident. The personal responsibility of martial arts students is of great importance.

2. Martial arts teachers must explain injuries that are prone to injury very carefully and must always take into account the student's level of training and their possible wrong reactions from the outset.

3. Discernibly unconcentrated and excessively exhausted pupils are to be excluded from the martial arts teacher from exercises that are prone to injury.

4. If in doubt, ask the students exactly and clarify what their level of training and fitness is.

5. Careful "monitoring" of the entire training process is a basic duty of every martial arts teacher.

6. When “sparring” with students, the martial arts teacher has to perform punches and kicks in a controlled manner so that any mistakes in coverage of the student do not lead to serious injuries.

7. If a student has a higher level of education, appropriate "dangerous" exercises may also be carried out according to the level of education, because the associated risks are part of the normal martial arts risk.

BGH NJW 1993.2173 (minor laceration); BGH NJW 1983, 2939 (minor bruising)
OLG Cologne VersR 1983,929; Palandt / Thomas, 66th edition 2007, § 823 BGB Note X

BGHZ 63.144; OLG Celle NJW-RR 2000,559
OLG Cologne VersR 1983,929
OLG Cologne VersR 1983,929
OLG Celle NJW-RR 2000,559
OLG Celle NJW-RR 2000,559

Portrait of JuergGuenther Gr Portrait of Gerhard E Hermanski2 oßmeister Gerhard E. Hermanski
8. Dan Hankido Hapkido
CEO of the Federal Academy of Korean Martial Arts
Teaching trainer for security,
Personal protection and judicial training

Dr. Jörg-Michael Günther
Legal Advisory Board of the Federal Academy of Korean Martial Arts
Author and lecturer in sports and criminal law,
1. Dan Hanguldo / 2. Kup Hankido Hapkido
Gerhard Hermanski
8. Dan Hankido Hapkido, CEO der Bundesakademie koreanischer Kampfkünste, Lehrtrainer für Sicherheits-, Personenschutz- und Justizausbildung