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How Do You Prevent Injuries In Jiu-Jitsu
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How Do You Prevent Injuries In Jiu-Jitsu

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One of the most frustrating parts of training Jiu Jitsu is when something happens that forces you to take time off.  There are only a few things that truly “force” you to take time off, while some people use other things as excuses to take time off.  The only things that truly force you off of the mats is if you have experienced a serious injury that you can not train around and likely have to have surgery on, or if you have a illness that is contagious or some sort of skin fungus or infection.  Other than that, you can find a way to make just about every other situation work for you if you want it bad enough.  

When we start looking at injuries we have to consider how to prevent the preventable ones and how to handle the ones that are not preventable.  Bernardo Faria has a few thoughts on this topic in his video clip titled “How to Prevent Injuries in BJJ – 5 minutes BJJ Talk”.  Let’s take a look at what he has to say on the topic and see what we can implement immediately to be safer in training and ultimately avoid anything that is going to take us off the mat for any extended period of time.  

There will be some injuries that are out of our control and sometimes these injuries will force you off of the mats for an extended period of time, sometimes a month or more.  If the injury is not a serious injury find a way to train around the injury and train as much as you can like always.  

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When returning to Jiu Jitsu after an injury be sure to ease back into it.  Obviously, there is a desire and a push to train hard, and “make up for lost time” or however you want to look at it, however, the fastest way to get re-injured is to come back too aggressively and over do it in training in your first few days back. Bernardo says he will typically take a week or more to ease back into his training mostly training with lower belts and focusing on his technique. 

Bernardo recommends only training as much as your body physically can.  Training at 110 percent for 12 months and getting hurt to the point you need surgery which will take you off the mats for months to recover typically is not as beneficial as training at 80-90 percent of your capacity forever.  He cautions grapplers to ensure you are pushing yourself enough to continue to improve but not so much that it is putting you in danger.  

Warming up is not just fun torture for the instructor to put everyone through so they can watch us all suffer, it’s actually necessary that you warm up in order to reduce the risk of injury during live training.  Bernardo notes that often times some of the worst injuries occur because people are late to class, they miss the warm up (likely on purpose) and then do not take the time to do a warm up on their own and they jump right into live training and end up getting hurt.  The fact of the matter is your muscles need the warm up to get the blood moving and get your muscles warmed up before you go bending and stretching and exerting them to max capacity. Think about a spaghetti noodle. If you take it out of the box and try to bend it, it breaks very easily, whereas if you boil it in hot water “warming it up” you can bend it however you want and it won’t break.  While your body will still have limitations when it’s warm, unlike the spaghetti noodle, I think you can see where the point – Warming up is important.

If your academy does not have a structured warm up or maybe you are looking for some drills you can do on your own before open mat, or in the garage gym you have built then you need “Solo and Partner Grappling Drills for Rapid Movement” – by Tom DeBlass.  This video instructional breaks down tons of useful drills that are guaranteed to make you faster and more agile on the mats, and will also work as warm ups in any situation.  Like any warm up, start slow and increase the speed as you get comfortable and your muscles start to loosen up.

Beyond this, I think that it’s also important to understand who you are training with and what their capabilities are when we are looking to avoid injury.  If you are a 135 pound white belt, it may not be smart to partner up with the 315 pound white belt. While Jiu Jitsu absolutely teaches us how to handle larger opponent’s it is a skill that we develop over time, additionally the larger opponent likely has not learned how to completely manage their body weight when transitioning and could accidentally slip and fall on you or a number of other accidental things that because of the weight difference could be an issue.  You also need to be aware of the type of person you are training with, the vast majority of Jiu Jitsu practitioners out there do an amazing job at scaling their game in training to match their training partner for the most part However, unfortunately sometimes you will run into the egotistical tough guy that is in need of an ego check. If you aren’t capable of delivering that ego check with ease, then you need to be very careful when training with these types of people because they can get dangerous and frantic when you catch them in a bad spot.  At the end of the day this comes down to the saying, tap early tap often. In the academy, there are no awards for the toughest drilling partner, of the person who tapped the least, I’d actually argue there is a reward for those who tap the most. Those who tap the most in training learn the most in training and therefore are less likely to get submitted when it really counts. 

In summary, avoiding injury is your top priority for a long and healthy Jiu Jitsu career.  Take time to do a proper warm up before every training session and make sure you are partnering with the right people to avoid accidental injury.  Understand that in training it’s your responsibility to not only look out for keeping your body safe, but also to keep your training partner safe when you are training.  If you hurt your training partner in the academy I would argue you have an ego problem that needs addresses. There is no reason to be ripping submissions in training, you know if you have it or not, there is no need to crank it just because the person is stubborn and not tapping right away, let it go and move to another submission.  If you are as good as you think you are this should not be much of a challenge at all. Stay safe, keep your partners safe, train hard and have fun.

Bernardo Faria is one of the most accomplished competitors and AMBASSADORS of Jiu-Jitsu. His instructional Foundations of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will lay the groundwork for you like NO OTHER. Get in early on your Jiu-Jitsu journey to reach your FULL POTENTIAL!!

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