Some Case Law
A New Jersey court held that a karate instructor is required to exercise the skill and knowledge normally possessed by members of the profession in good standing in similar communities. The court further held that either party may offer expert testimony to establish what the appropriate standard is under the circumstances. For instance, if a student is allowed to spar without adequate training and an injury occurs, the school may be liable if professionally recognized standards for sparring were not met.
A New York court addressed the issue of whether a student should be barred from recovering for an injury received during sparring because he "assumed the risk," meaning that he undertook the activity with knowledge and appreciation of the possible consequences. The court held that because karate is not as common as football or baseball, the dangers are not readily apparent to the average person. Karate claims to teach students how to punch and kick in a manner not presumed to be known to the average person, therefore, the karate school must ensure that students are appropriately trained prior to sparring. The court held that, not only is sparring a dangerous activity, it is more dangerous to spar with a relatively unskilled partner than with an experienced opponent.