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Gordon Ryan’s Injury
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Gordon Ryan’s Injury

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In February, grappling fans received some bad news. 

Master entertainer Gordon Ryan injured his knee -- reputured his LCL and strained his biceps femoris tendon -- in his match against Joao Gabriel Rocha during the KASAI Super Series.

Ryan won the match, but reported hearing 5 or 6 pops in his knee while entering the saddle.

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The position, and particularly the way Ryan performs it, can be dangerous, as Australian grappler and physiotherapist Lachlan Giles explains below.

Giles explains that an LCL rupture is especially to be avoided versus injuries to other ligaments like the MCL. This is because complete tearing of the LCL often requires open knee surgery. 

Tears in ligaments like the MCL or in the meniscus can sometimes be repaired by the body or with arthroscopic surgery, which involves much smaller incisions and a faster recovery time.

Giles also explains that since the LCL is a skinnier ligament than the MCL, it’s especially important to protect it (since the LCL is more easily torn completely).

That’s done by limiting pressure applied to the inside of the knee, that would force the knee resist outward rotation.

But, Giles explains that the entry Ryan performed depends on exerting a lot of outward pressure with his knee against a large weight -- exactly the wrong thing for the LCL.

This can be modified, though. Giles shows when you’re opponent’s leg is over your bottom leg, it’s a bad idea to have your free leg in between your opponent’s leg as Ryan did.

This leaves your knee open to injury, even if you don’t try to push your opponent with your knee. And at the very least, this position will result in a pass for your opponent.

So instead, Giles suggests getting a butterfly hook in, and using that to elevate your opponent. This applies upward force, rather than sideways force that can endanger your knee.

Once your opponent is elevated, the leg lock entry is there.

Also, from the leg lock, a rocking motion should be used to move your opponent, rather than outward twisting force with your knee (again, to avoid straining the LCL). 

Now, in the competitive situation Ryan was in, his two options from that starting position were probably to give up the pass or push to the outside like he did.

But for the casual practitioner, it is good to keep in mind that you shouldn’t rely on the outward force of your knee to push your opponent anywhere.

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As of June 19, Ryan is back on the mats, but making sure to protect his knee and nurse it back to strength.

It’s still unclear whether Ryan will be able to fight in the ADCC World Championships in September.

We wish Ryan a speedy recovery, and hope to see him back on the competition scene soon.

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