Sensei Toe

A while back, I was working with some of the senior students on multiple person freestyle. Even though we have a pretty large training area, we were working only on two attackers against one, just so we could have some room to move. It was the end of the night, and we were all getting a little tired. I was demonstrating the importance of turning, when one of my ukes lost their balance more than they thought and landed.

On my toe.

I knew from the impact that this was not something I was going to shrug off. Looking down, my eyes confirmed what my nerves had already told me: my toenail had been split, and it was starting to bleed. A lot. So, with as much dignity as I could muster, I hobbled off the mat and taped up my foot. Overall, the injury was minor, if a bit messy. And I knew I was going to need it bandaged up for a while.

Cut to kids class two days later. As I’m leading class, one of my younger students raised her hand. “What happened to your toe?” she asked. “I was training, and someone fell on it by accident,” I replied. “Oh,” she answered, and back we went to working on katate-tori kokyunage.

Not ten minutes later, the same student lets out a yelp. She had asked for permission to get a drink of water and, on the way back, had stubbed her toe. It was just a little bruised, but a bandaid was called for to soothe her feelings. (As many parents already know, bandaids can do wonders even if there isn’t a physical need for one.) Leaving my class under the watchful eye of one of my senior students, I bandaged her up and got her back on the mat, commenting: “Looks like you injured the same toe that I did!” to make her feel better.

She got into a group of students practicing without a problem. As I was watching, one of them asked: “What happened to your toe?”

My student got a huge grin on her face, stuck out her foot, and said proudly: “This… THIS is my SENSEI toe.”

The other instructors and I just about died laughing.

Update: Just so you know, from that day on, any time someone injuries their foot, it’s referred to as “sensei toe.”

3 thoughts on “Sensei Toe

  1. Cute. One of the worst martial injuries I’ve ever had I was teaching kesagatame, the first hold-down you learn in judo. The easiest thing that there is. I was telling the class of kids that if the uke begins moving to try to escape then you just shift your feet and…


    I caught my little toe in a crack in the folding mats and broke it sideways. I yelped and sat up and my toe was hanging off at an angle and half of my foot was already black. That toe hurt for a loooong time.

    Crazy things, toe injuries.

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