Let’s face it, Jiu jitsu is a contact sport and if you train long enough there’s a good chance that at some point in grappling journey you will suffer an injury. Now dont get me wrong, when I talk about training long and hard enough, I dont mean training to win every fight like an MMA fighter or training recklessly. Sometimes you just have a long, tough week at work, you lose focus for a second and bang you post awkwardly on your wrist or ankle and end up with a light sprain. Or even worse you really do a good job of spraining a wrist or ankle that gets caught in the gi or trapped underneath your opponent! Unfortunately for most people, contact sports and injuries go hand in hand but it is how you deal with them that will make or break your career! I’ll start with a waiver, I am NOT a Doctor or Medical Professional. If you are in any doubt or serious pain, please seek immediate professional medical attention!!!
Let’s start with the basics, if something feels painful or you hurt yourself on the mat then STOP training immediately! Tap, scream, do whatever you have to do to get yourself out of danger. Take a couple of minutes to assess, did you just hurt yourself, for example tweak an ankle or stub a toe? Or have you injured yourself? I generally define something that just hurt or hurts a little as a minor type hurt. Where as something that is instantly painful, pops, cracks, snaps or just doesnt feel right is probably a more serious injury. If you hurt yourself, take a few minutes to check that you have pain-free range of motion, that there is no obvious swelling or anything out of the ordinary and alert your instructor immediately! If after the initial assessment you feel ok and it was just a scare, make sure that if you choose to continue training, that you take greater care of the affected area just to be safe and err on the side of caution! If however you feel you have injured yourself more seriously it is important to forget about your ego, stop training immediately and follow the R.I.C.E.D. principle which stands for:
Rest the injured body part immediately
Ice the injury 10 minutes on 10 minutes off until you can seek professional medical attention
Compression if the injury allows it to reduce swelling and inflammation and speed recovery
Elevation of the injured body part if possible also to reduce swelling and inflammation
Doctor! Most importantly, seek immediate professional medical attention!!!
Rhadi Ferguson overcame major knee surgery nine months before the Olympic trials in 2003 to become a 2004 Olympian in the sport of Judo! And in doing so he showed the grit and determination to overcome adversity and become a champion!
Now that being said, if you are training smart with a good group of training partners that you trust and respect and under the supervision of an experienced coach injuries should be a rare event! Most injuries occur because people either get to competitive or are reckless when they are training. If you train under the supervision of a good coach they should recognise this immediately and put a stop to it. It’s okay to train hard as long as you are going about it with control, technique, in a safe environment and devoid of ego! If a student injures others and does not take care with their training partners, they will have no one left to train with or may be asked to leave the gym! It is the duty of care and responsibility of the coach to look after the group’s safety !
Okay you are injured. Think about the injury, does it require time off training? Or can you come into the gym and work lightly on your technique while avoiding using the injured area. If you are able to do this, you will probably find that you will heal quicker due to the increased blood supply through your body brought about by exercise. Also it will help you keep your mind fresh, skills sharp and help to avoid complacency, resentment and even possibly depression. Another thing you will be doing is building your skills, increasing muscle memory and putting yourself in a positive training environment both mentally and physically!
However if the injury is severe and you just cant train then I recommend that you still to attend class and watch. It will probably be difficult at first but it really does help if you can watch, study and learn from your coach. Observe how your team mates move when rolling, find out how they set up their attacks, become familiar with their strongest positions and try to dissect their games as if they were opponents that you were planning to compete against. How would you tackle their strengths, what moves would you use against them? Another thing that you can do to keep your head in the game is watch instructional dvds and competitions, study the top Jiu jitsu players, learn from them and keep your mind sharp! Read books, magazines, watch you tube clips etc and stay focused.
We in the Jiu jitsu community have lost too many talented fighters, instructors and students to injuries who never returned to the mats! Keep your head in the game, be smart and ease back into it while developing and strengthening the injury until it becomes a strength! Believe me, it is possible. I tore my pec tendon completely off the bone a couple of years requiring major surgery and was told that I would never play sports again! Since then I have gone on to earn my brown belt and open my own school so I really believe we can overcome almost any injury if we stay positive and keep our head in the game!
Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!
Jiu jitsu Kingdom
P.S. For information about Rhadi Ferguson please check out his website at www.rhadi.com