About 15 years ago I was running a dojo in the next town up the road from my current location. Pretty small, rural location, but due to the generosity of the folks in our aikido organization I was able to get several big-name teachers to come do seminars at my little dojo. These usually drew pretty good attendance from all over the region.
For one of these seminars, the teacher brought one of his brown belt students who was all fired up about judo competition. Well, it seems that he'd heard that there was to be a tournament in Jackson MS the same weekend as our seminar, so the brown belt talked a handful of my students into ditching the seminar and going to compete in the tournament instead (I know, right?).
You can probably see it coming. One of my yellow belt students managed to get his leg broken at the tournament, and the whole group of them came back to the dojo that afternoon, looking sorta sheepish. That yellow belt missed a bunch of practice in the subsequent months, but he eventually healed up, like teens usually do. A couple of years later he wanted to get into the Marines and I had to write them a letter telling them that he'd completely healed from that injury. He finished his stint with the military and now he's in college and doing some boxing and grappling.
A couple of months ago I got to thinking about that student so I wrote him a note asking if he remembered any lessons or wisdom that he'd learned from ditching the seminar in favor of the tournament that he'd be willing to share with my blog audience - since we're all about learning from each other's stupid mistakes ;-)
I guess if I learned anything, it was to pay closer attention to detail. Specifically in form, as it was my own bad form that broke my ankle (when I was throwing the guy, my foot was planted on my heel rather than the ball of my foot). I've always been pretty careful with things like that, but that really drove the nail in that coffin. I also came out with a clear understanding of my own vincibility. Before that, I was pretty sure I was untouchable, and often prided myself on how I'd never broken any bones.
Since then, I've been extremely careful with precision regarding form, especially as it correlates to the preservation of my body, since as you well know, we pretty much only get the one. When I am striking or throwing someone or something or even playing a sport, I go out of my way to analyze the impact my movements are having on my body. I feel like I've been able to avoid many more injuries just by paying closer attention to detail.
So, there you have it. The voice of experience.