Throughout my career on the mat I've had to deal with a handful of "rolling" related injuries. I'll give you a guess as to what the keyword was in that last sentence...……
….."Rolling" ,"Sparring" whatever you want to call it. I think of it as the sweet peace we find in simulating the murder of one another. The excitement of victory and the problem solving from defeat. "Rolling," is why (dare I say) MOST of us were drawn to this sport in the first place....and it's also the number one in the "causes of injury" department.
Let's breakdown my experience....broken toes, two knee surgeries, cracked ribs, fractured forearm, broken fingers, and a laundry list of pulled muscles and stiff joints...that should be enough medical history to keep me out of jiu-jitsu wouldn't you say? Not a chance....
Every major injury revealed two things....
.1.) I can recover as long as I take the necessary steps to do so
2.) I can prevent it from happening again...as long as I learn from it.
Of course, there are occasions where someone may injure themselves beyond repair. Obviously, there's always a wild card chance something happens during a sparring match. But those circumstances represent a very small percentage of practitioners. The reality is there are concrete ways of drastically reducing your chances of injury/reinjury if we're willing to work for them. Here are three....
1. Be pro-active....
No better substitute for injury prevention. Properly warming up, stretching before and after class, having a balanced diet, self-massage, getting proper rest, prioritize drilling...…….
2. Limiting competitive/ intense sparring
Not every match is to the death and not every roll is for a gold medal. That should go without saying but do we practice it? I'll admit, I'm guilty of it as well. We can better control this by choosing our training partners wisely and communicating with our partners. Also, changing our perspective on what we can accomplish during a roll. "Flow-Rolling" or "controlled-sparring"...will challenge what knowledge you actually hold in this sport. Or as opposed to trying to defeat an aggressive training partner...instead focusing on survival .
3. Not sparring at all
Jiu-jitsu can serve us in so many ways that don't involve live-training. The solo bodyweight movements alone (shrimping, bridging, technical standups, etc....) will keep most humans physically functional through old age. Drilling, learning from instructionals, coaching, and supporting events. Learn to embrace the community and inquisitive side of this martial art!
Jeff Spain Jr
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brown Belt