SAFETY: The AJA Responsible Instructor Program

The American Jujitsu Association takes very seriously the safety of both its students and their instructors. You don’t have to read the news very much to realize that concussions and their terrible consequences have become extremely significant in the medical and sports world. The AJA is very much a leader in this ongoing safety paradigm shift. We especially want to protect the kids who train with us.

One of the challenges is making sure all AJA instructors are properly trained to deal with emergencies in our individual schools and provide our students with a safe environment. The latest scientific understanding about traumatic brain injuries can be found on the CDC web site

There are four things you need to be aware of with respect to concussions:

  1. Beginning in 2013, the AJA insurer wanted to make sure we had a “risk management” program in place, and we sent all instructors a sample “risk management” checklist for your use. It has been updated. You can download a copy of the Risk Management Checklist for your own periodic use and evaluation. Keep a copy for future reference in case it’s requested by the insurance company if/when you file a claim. If you think additional criteria should be added please contact the AJA president or your regional director.
  2. Our insurance company has given us a required new challenge: Concussion Awareness.
    As part of your coverage requirements, you will need to provide instructors, students and parents with information about concussion awareness on a periodic basis, either through handouts & discussion or via email, sending them the appropriate link[s] below:
    For school leaders and students click here: [www.cdc.gov/headsup/schools/index.html].
    For parents click here: [www.cdc.gov/headsup/parents/index.html].
    For general information on brain injury click here: [https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/symptoms.html].
  3. All instructors are also strongly encouraged to become “concussion awareness” certified, either through the Centers for Disease Control or other reputable agency. To take the free and easy 30-minute CDC Heads-Up training program, pass the quiz, and receive your free certificate from the CDC just click here: [https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/highschoolsports/training/index.html].
  4. Also, all instructors should have had First-Aid/CPR training, either through the Red Cross, Heart Saver, or some other recognized program. This is required by the AJA for anyone being promoted to shodan as well as all instructors. Some instructors conduct programs through community agencies that have their own policies regarding injuries. Please be aware that nothing here overrides those policies, which you should also follow. However, sometimes First-Aid/CPR and concussion awareness training may allow you to be more effective within those agency policies — and that knowledge certainly can’t hurt you — plus, your students will be more comfortable knowing that you have had some training to protect them.

Meeting all these requirements does NOT take a lot of time. However, you as the head instructor of your school need to protect yourself, other instructors in your program, and your students. To help assure that you will be adequately covered by insurance you must bring yourself and your school into compliance as expeditiously as possible (if you’re not already there).

To make “compliance” even more rewarding the AJA is offering you the opportunity for recognition for voluntarily complying with our Responsible Instructor Program [RIP]. If you meet all the conditions on the RIP certificate you can just sign it, date it and post it for your students and the public to see. Keep in mind that you are responsible for maintaining the documentation required for liability reasons, and it is to your advantage to do so.

To make sure you’re covered, you MUST have a proactive program in place when you register your school with the AJA each new year, when the AJA insurance policy is annually renewed.

Please be aware that the concussion awareness compliance program is an insurance policy requirement, not an AJA decision. It’s also a good idea for you to do this as a competent and responsible martial arts instructor – especially if you have teens participating in your school, as they are at greatest risk. Also, you should do this to protect your own liability coverage as an instructor. Plus, if you meet all the criteria of the Responsible Instructor Program you will be able to publicly post your own certificate from the Responsible Instructor Program for all to see.

Please contact the AJA president or your regional director if you have any questions or concerns about this matter.