Newspaper articles of judo injuries resulting in death: 1984 – 2010 [47]

Judo teacher told students to make him pass out; first year junior high school student falls unconscious; mother had told teacher her son was weak
The Asahi Shimbun
August 7, 2009
Koji Murakawa (12), a first year student of Hatasho Junior High School, fell unconscious after he collapsed during judo practice with a judo club teacher (27). The school indicated that some members of the judo club had been told to continue using choking technique until Koji passed out. Since Koji has asthma, his mother had repeatedly told the teacher not to involve him in intense activities. She said she did not understand why he was taking part in hard training. On July 30, the day after Koji fell unconscious, the school interviewed 13 judo club members who had attended the practice the previous day. The interview record showed that “Koji passed out after randori (free sparring) with the coach,” “He was exhausted,” “Towards the end he could hardly move and had difficulty getting up.” The school explained that practice on July 29 started at 1:00 pm. After newaza (ground techniques training), a first year student and a senior student paired up and alternately applied techniques in two-minute-matches. From the 17th match the teacher kept only three students including Koji to continue practicing by telling them their voice was not loud enough. From the 21st match, only Koji remained to practice with the teacher, while other members rested. At around 4:20 pm, after he had been thrown another 2 or 3 more times he fell on his back and stopped moving. He was diagnosed as having acute subdural hematoma in hospital. He remains unconscious with severe damage to the right side of his brain.
The teacher, interviewed by the school, said that he had returned techniques used by Koji in such a way as to not hit his head. Koji’s mother said he had joined the judo club in May as a beginner. From early June he was absent from training because of injury and poor physical condition. He resumed practice in early July. She has met the teacher at school four times to tell him that since Koji could not do sports like other children he needed to practice at his own pace and that he needed to rest when he was unwell. She said the teacher responded that he understood. “I thought he was training under a different plan because I’ve requested this to the teacher many times. If he had considered Koji’s health, Koji would not be like this,” she said. Hatasho Junior High School Judo Club took second place at the Shiga Prefecture Championship and was training for the Kinki Championship from Aug. 5. Principal Kitamura said that the school had no comment because the police were investigating the case.

First year junior high school student and judo club member dies after judo practice; teacher had thrown him
The Asahi Shimbun
August 24, 2009
Koji Murakawa (12), a first year student and judo club member of Hatasho Junior High School, who fell unconscious after being thrown by a teacher during judo practice in July, died on Aug.24 in hospital. Higashi Ohmi Police are investigating the teacher on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death.

Family of student charge former judo club teacher and principal on suspicion of inflicting injury resulting in death; Shiga
The Asahi Shimbun
February 26, 2010
The family of Koji Murakawa (12 at the time), a first year student of Hatasho Junior High School, who died after being thrown by a judo club teacher (27) during practice in July, 2009, filed criminal charges on Feb. 25 against the former teacher on suspicion of inflicting bodily injury resulting in death and the school principal (55) on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death. Koji died in hospital of acute subdural hematoma due to head trauma, one month after being thrown by the teacher.
Koji was a beginner who could not break falls properly. On July 29, he had two-minute-matches with a senior student. From the 26th match the teacher became his opponent and he lost consciousness after the teacher threw him. Koji’s family stated in the complaint that he was already in an exhausted condition, unable to endure further training, when the teacher became his opponent; therefore, additional practice by the teacher was ‘violence’ only to further damage him. They stated that the principal lacked professional duty to prevent injury by failing to instruct the teacher to teach appropriately.
Koji, who had had asthma since childhood, joined the judo club to develop physical strength. Since Hatasho Junior High School is one of the strongest judo clubs in the prefecture, practice was hard. Koji had lost 8 kg since joining the club. His mother (42) had repeatedly requested to the club teacher to allow him to practice slowly at his own pace. According to some club members, on July 29, first year students, who had done poorly in competition, were told to have randori (free sparring) with senior students. With a significant gap in skills, first year students continued to be thrown by senior members. The complaint indicated that Koji had walked unsteadily in the opposite direction to get his water bottle after the 15th match. He fell down on his back and fell unconscious after he was thrown by the teacher in the 26th match.
The board of education of the local government issued a report in January, indicating that judo instruction by the former teacher was rigorous for Koji Murakawa, but that the causal relationship between practice and his death could not be proven.

Judo teachers must be aware of brain concussion; report on judo death in Shiga
The Asahi Shimbun
July 14, 2010
The third-party committee of the local government, which was investigating the death of a first year junior high school student after judo training in Shiga, issued a report. It proposed that judo instructors must learn correct information on head concussion. The medical community has reported that repeated concussions may result in death; however, according to the All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF), the issue has almost never been discussed in the judo community.
Research by Dr. Ryo Uchida of Aichi University of Education indicated that over 27 years between 1982 and 2009, 109 junior and senior high school students had died due to judo, while under school management. Over the 10 years between 1997 and 2007 about 70 % of the students who died due to judo died of head trauma, including acute subdural hematoma. In response to repeated injuries AJJF included a brain surgeon on the medical committee from May, which discusses safety measures from a medical viewpoint, and started the Safety Instruction Project in June.

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