Risk Assessment and Safety Practises

Johannes Liechtenauer:

"Note the above: blow, thrust, guard - weak or strong. 'In des' and 'Vor', 'Nach' without rushing. Let your methods not be rash. He whose fight is confined to the high line will be shamed below."

Risk Assessment and Safety Practices

This is always a contentious issue and not one that can be pinned down specifically as no two individuals are the same and so cannot be addressed by one rule if they are to develop efficiently.  However, here are some general rules and humorous scenarios.

1) Environmental Considerations:

a) All physical obstructions to a height of 11' are removed. Where this is impractical or impossible, they are managed as appropriate for the practice undertaken.

i.e. ".....and don't wave that 8' staff about underneath that low hanging stage light. I know you want to be in the ‘spot light’ for this evening's activities but I would hope you didn’t mean that literally."

b) Ensure floor surface is suitable for the purpose of the activity undertaken and that slippage underfoot is reduced to a minimum; this includes not only the surface of the floor but also that the footwear being used by the student/participant is appropriate for that surface. Check for risk of possible injuries that could occur as a consequence of an unmaintained floor medium.

i.e."....and you are a responsible adult (apparently) so if you DO insist on training in bare feet on a parquet wooden floor DON'T blame me if you get a splinter."

c) Be aware of any wall-related dangers or potential risks that could result in either injury to an individual or structural damage to the building being used,

i.e.".....and stop the exercise BEFORE you get to the window and not after you've gone through it. You may feel it desirable to smash through the constraints of social expectations, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for you to literally do that here!"

d) Ensure a suitable flow of fresh air is maintained through the training area and an appropriate climatic environment is sustainable.

i.e." Why do we have the window open? Have you ever suffered asphyxiation as a consequence of excessive body odour? If you're cold try putting some clothes on or moving around a bit rather than just sitting there stagnating with your phone. Surely this is obvious? Don't they teach common sense anymore? What the {insert expletive} is wrong with people today?!"

e) Ensure all attending participants are aware of Fire Safety precautions and procedures concerning the evacuation of the training venue in case of fire, making sure all are familiar with the fire assembly point outside.

i.e.".....and in case of a fire that cannot be instantly managed with a fire extinguisher (see that one over there as an example) DO NOT run at it with a highly flammable synthetic crash mat in an attempt to put it out while the others film your inevitable hospitalisation on their phones for the benefit of YouTube. Instead evacuate in a orderly fashion through the exits clearly marked (not your bowels, the building), triggering any fire alarm that may be available en route, and congregate outside in the car park by the assembly point, remembering to call the emergency services whilst doing so (via a phone call to 999 and not 'twitter', 'facebook' or 'snapchat')..........and I don't mean congregate in the local pub car park either! "

2) Training Medium Considerations:

a) Ensure all training media are well-maintained and in good order so that no sharp edges or damaged areas are likely to cause injury during their normal use,

i.e."...and after you hit your opponent incorrectly and consequently broke the training weapon causing it to fracture, leaving you with a rather dangerous pointy end, at what juncture did you not realise that it might not be acceptable to continue using said weapon? If you want a kebab, go and buy one at a kebab shop AFTER the lesson."

b) Where appropriate, ensure suitable protection is worn/used by students/participants and also that the protection used is well-maintained and an appropriate fit for the user.

i.e."....and when you put the mask on and realised that your head span around inside it independent of the mask moving with you, when did you realise the technique you were failing to execute was as a consequence of the mask? When your vision went blank and you were reading the manufacturer's 'instruction of care' label in pigeon English on the inside perhaps, or was it when stars appeared in the darkness as a consequence of being repeatedly bashed over the head by your 'invisible' opponent?"

3) Student/Participant Management:

a) Ask all persons involved (or their consenting adults/carers if considered a child or vulnerable adult) of any past or ongoing injuries or physical/mental concerns that may cause them further injury or place their fellow participants in danger during the progress of a normal class. Assess suitability on an individual basis and manage appropriately, excluding only if inclusion in activities is beyond reasonable risk management.

i.e.”....as much as I appreciate your enthusiasm, and really I do, the crutches, as a consequence of your leg being in plaster due to prancing about as the Fairy Goblin at your weekend's roleplay event, isn’t an encumbrance to your participation in this evening's training because.......?”

b) Ensure that any activity run by an assistant is checked for historical authenticity and that safety within the training environment is at the forefront of any activity. Also ensure that the activities involved are within the physical and/or mental capability of those teaching/participating.

i.e.".....and I know I said you could run this evening's lesson but I'm curious to know how, exactly, you believe that the inconvenience of the gimp mask, ball gag and nothing but the leather mankini you are wearing is not going to cause me, or your fellow students, any distress? I'm also concerned that the giant phallus you propose your fellow students use as a training weapon against you may not be wholly appropriate nor, more importantly, historically accurate, even though it's made of English oak. Being a rather overweight, over-hairy and over middle-aged man, I'm worried that you may become the subject of continued abuse.....and I'm more concerned that may be part of your lesson plan!"