The human mind is a powerful tool in the advancement of the human race, at the same time it can be the weakest link going into the future of human development . When injuries occur , other than the obvious pain involved with the wound , there can be a barrier that needs to be overcome in order for the affected injury/area to be thought of as a thing of the past. Nobody likes pain, thats completely obvious, and if for any reason pain is the first thing on your mind before training BJJ, you should go see your doctor to get it taken care of as soon as possible.
When a major injury occurs , for instance a ligament tear or broken bone, time and maybe a trip to the emergency room may get it taken care of, in other instances surgery is needed to repair the affected area such as Meniscus tears or ACL reconstructions In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the movements associated with training can put you in awkward positions , it has happened to professional fighters and it can happen to anyone preparing for an event , due to the rigorous training involved many fighters increase their sessions in order to become more familiar with the fighter in question and with more training there is more of an increased risk of injury.
Statistically it is safer to fly than to drive, but because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a relatively new sport ( given the amount of time it has been here in the United States ) there hasn’t been any studies ( as of this article written in 2012 ) to confirm nor deny , Jiu Jitsu is any more dangerous than say Football or Wrestling , so we cannot say becoming injured in BJJ , statistically is a guarantee.
When a BJJ enthusiast becomes injured , many thoughts start to pop up , questions are asked and even close family will question their dedication to the art . Injuries are part of this sport but the severity of the injury depends on the individual playing BJJ at any given time . What we mean is normally white belts or people who are fresh to our sport go in thinking that they need to ” win ” in order to feel undefeated, it is the age old emotion of the human mind to feel relevant . With that being said, any new white belt or person new to BJJ should have a ” trial ” period , meaning they should have their skills evaluated by the coach or person in charge ( normally a black belt or a person with a high rank ), in order to determine if they have any experience wrestling or grappling, this would alleviate some doubts had of new recruits to the school and while it is not a fool proof way to keep everyone safe from injury, it can reduce the risk of having an under trained or a person with previous grappling experience, try and injure the students currently competing or training in the academy.
The mentality of a person who has been training for several years shifts from ” i need to win ” to ” i need to get better ” and they begin to notice changes in their Jiu Jitsu, this can only happen with nothing other than mat time , the daily grind, day in and day out over the course of the long term.
Injuries can happen at any time, anywhere and the chances increase once you introduce rigorous sports like skydiving, skiing, and any sport that involves full contact fighting like mixed martial arts or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are several ways to reduce the chance of serious injury , and while we are not doctors legally we cannot give medical advice , just a general idea of how you can reduce the chances of becoming injured.
1. Learn to tap .
This may be obvious to most people , but in the heat of the moment many grapplers whether training or competing find it necessary to make the attempt to escape futility at some times which can lead to injury . The motto to live by is tap early and tap often, it is easier to tap and save from being injured to grapple another day than to fight through the submission attempt only to be injured and be out of training for an extended period of time.
Prior to participating in BJJ many people find stretching beneficial. The arms, legs, neck and back should always be stretched before being involved in such a high intensity sport. There are several tutorials online that can be studied , we gathered one video used in our very own stretching and warmup workout which can be viewed here
Doing so before every workout can reduce the chance of injury
3. Maintain Health.
Many injuries occur when you become fatigued and are either too tired or worn out to physically tap or shout to your partner he/she got the submission, this usually happens when a persons diet is poor, a person doesn’t sleep well the night before, or a person is in relatively poor physical health ( including but not limited to obesity, high blood pressure , etc. ) and while a person doesn’t have to be fit to participate in BJJ , the more a person trains the better physically they become. It isn’t needed to lose weight BEFORE training, weight will be lost during training.
4. Keep An Open Mind.
When it is said ” check your ego at the door ” it usually means that when you step on the mat you are equal to all except your skill to grapple. No one person is better than any other, when in the gym you can remember you are there to train and NOT to compete. Never think that you are going to your academy to ” win ” , you do not attend to hurt or maim anyone, but to learn and grow as a BJJ enthusiast .
5. Keep An Eye Out .
Meaning keep an eye on your team mates, training partners , your body and your environment. Injuries not only occur physically, but when an injury DOES occur, the mental block that comes with it can be just as bad. The desire to not become injured again can linger well beyond when the injury has healed . Time and great care taken can be good ways to mentally overcome the fear of becoming injured again , either in the same way or in a different area.
Small injuries such as bone or ligament sprains to major injuries like broken bones and injuries needing surgery can happen. You can live by the old saying ” an ounce of prevention is worth more than a ton of repair ” . While no one person can be 100% injury free, taking small steps to insure you keep a long grappling career can be helpful, and while there are other ways to prevent injuries, those 5 steps listed can help you if even in a small way.
And if you do become injured severely , take time off from grappling or training to let your injury heal and consult with your doctor. The mental aspect can be a barrier when returning so be sure you are ready to train and inform your coach and team mates of your intentions of taking it slow or easy and if need be, do some light drilling until you have the confidence back to roll harder in small increments.
And if you have any other ways or advice on how to stay injury free, please post and share with the rest of the BJJ community to help others who may want to stay injury free too.
Happy grappling and take care of yourself and each other.