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1Martial Arts Action



Basic Risk Management By Damien Martin

Risk will always be part of our existence and is certainly an integral part of martial arts training. Most martial arts involve activities where strength, speed or skill is involved and will increase the level of risk to participants. Generally, participants willingly accept this increased risk.

Although there are these inherent physical risks that will remain as long as the martial arts are pursued, there are often other risks, such as business risks, or exercise related risks, which can be reduced or avoided with good risk management.

As individuals, instructors, business owners and even as a society we continually manage risk – usually unconsciously, but rarely systematically.

People think that risk management is a modern concept but the 15th century samurai Senjo (battlefield strategy) principles are a form of risk management process. Originally the management of risk was self-preservation, or prompted by a moral duty of care for others. In today's economic climate, legal and economic imperatives now provide a more powerful incentive.

The systematic management of risk is relatively new and the process has undergone considerable refinement as a modern management tool in order to cope with a more complex business environment, increased community expectations, and an increasingly litigious society.

Risk management is common sense. The complexity for the martial arts instructor lies in the diversity of styles, systems and types of martial arts available, the fact that each school is different as are the training activities to which it may be applied, and the human factors associated with interpretation and implementation.

Australian Standards
The Australian Standard for Risk Management is AS/NZS 4360: 1999 Risk Management. There is also a document from Standards Australia titled HB246 -2002 Guidelines for Managing Risk in Sport & Recreation which is also relevant to the martial arts industry.

What is Risk Management?
The culture, processes and structures that are directed towards the effective management of potential opportunities and adverse effects .
What is Risk?
The chance of something happening that will have an impact upon objectives. It is measured in terms of likelihood and consequences
Risk Reduction
A selective application of appropriate techniques and management principles to reduce either likelihood of an occurrence or its consequence or both.
Risk Transfer
Shifting responsibility or burden for loss to another party through legislation, contract, insurance or other means.
Risk Acceptance
An informed decision not to become involved in a risk situation

There are a variety of reasons we need to manage risk. These include:
• Clearly define insurance needs
• Compliance with laws
• Assist in audit process
• Encourage participation
• Better results
• More information to make decisions
• Balancing opportunity and risk

Risk management needs to be continuous and ongoing. It should become second nature.

Risk management is a five stage process:
1. Establishing the context
2. Identify the risk
3. Assess risks
4. Treat risks
5. Ongoing monitoring & review

Establishing the Context
• Scope of plan
• Aims & objectives
• Who, what, when, how and with what $
• Determine treatment criteria
• Define extent and comprehensiveness of activities
• Define the project or activity for which you are going to identify risks
• Define risk acceptance criteria

Risk Identification
• Experience & records
• Brainstorming
• System analysis
• Personal reports
• Audit & recommendations
• What can happen - list
• How and why it can happen - possible causes & scenarios

Risk Assessment
• Likelihood
• Consequence
• Adequacy
• Treat or Accept

Risk Treatment & Control
• Reduce Likelihood
• Reduce the Consequences

Transfer the Risk
• Accept the Risk
• Avoid the Risk

Monitoring & review
• Risk reviews
• Audits
• Progress of treatment plan implementation

Risk management must be an important part of any strategic planning process. Those risks associated with the broad plans and goals of the organisation, its objectives and strategies need to be addressed. These strategic risks are most relevant to associations or larger martial arts organisations but are also relevant to the individual school operator who plans their business activities as a matter of course.

Those risks associated with the functions of the school which are performed on a daily basis need to be considered. Things like finances, decision making, marketing and promotion and the administrative areas of your school need constant attention.

Additionally, the risks associated with a specific project, such as a special event (grading, ‘buddy day' or a tournament) will need to have the principles of risk management applied to all phases of the event. You will need to consider the additional requirements for safety, public liability, property loss/damage, competition/competitor services, students failing and so on.

Finally, when establishing the context of the risk review you will need to define the extent of the review. You will need to establish whether you want to limit it to certain aspects such as safety, security or public liability, or conducting the review looking at the entire project, organisation or business.

Damien Martin is a 6th degree black belt with almost 25 years of martial arts experience. He is a court recognised expert in use-of-force and related training issues.