Rowan’s Law was given Royal Assent on March 7, 2018. The law was named in memory of Rowan Stringer, who was a young rugby player from Ottawa. She died in 2013 from brain swelling, after possibly suffering three concussions in six days of rugby playing. The level of concussion awareness in society was very low at that time and her coaches and parents didn’t know how to deal with her concussions.

The purpose of Rowan’s Law is to raise awareness of concussions and concussion safety in amateur sport. This is an Ontario law, meaning it applies to sports organizations in Ontario. I spent some time this morning speaking with a lawyer about whether Rowan’s Law might apply to individual Kendo clubs. The legal opinion I received this morning was that all Kendo clubs in Ontario could be considered “sport organizations” and are therefore subject to this law.

“sport organization” means a person or entity that carries out, for profit or otherwise, a prescribed activity in connection with an amateur competitive sport and that satisfies such other criteria as may be prescribed. (“organisation sportive”)

What does this mean for Ontario Kendo clubs, their members, and instructors? Specifically, if your Kendo club has members under 26 years of age*, you are a “coach”, “team trainer”, or “official”, you need to review the Concussions Awareness Resources before registering or serving with your sport organization, review the sport organization’s Concussion Code of Conduct, and confirm you have reviewed both of these resources every year.

*Sports organizations that are Universities, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology or other Post-Secondary Institutions must advise athletes of any age they need to follow the rules of Rowan’s Law.

Here is a link to the law (statute): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/s18001

Here is a link to the general information from the province about Rowan’s Law: https://www.ontario.ca/page/rowans-law-concussion-safety

Here is a link to the Ontario Government’s concussion awareness resources: https://www.ontario.ca/page/rowans-law-concussion-awareness-resources

In addition, sport organizations shall establish a concussion code of conduct, establish a “removal-from-sport” protocol as well as a “return-to-sport” protocol.

Kendo Ontario has recently released a Concussion Protocol which we will be adopting at the Niagara Kendo Club. While concussions in Kendo are rare, they do happen. Since the club’s inception in 2004 we have had one member who sustained two concussions and another member with a probable concussion. I may have had one myself. To my knowledge, both students and I have recovered well.

Here is the link to the Kendo Ontario Concussion Protocol: https://www.kendoontario.ca/concussion-protocol/

I will be taking steps to bring the Niagara Kendo Club into compliance with Rowan’s Law. Partially because it’s the law, but mostly because it’s just a good idea. You can quibble over whether Kendo is a martial art or a sport all you like. If you get a concussion during Kendo those quibbles are irrelevant. Everyone should know the signs of concussion, know how to deal with one, and know what’s necessary to recover and be able to return to Kendo safely.

I hope you’ve found this information interesting and useful.