Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a very ‘real’ combat sport and 100% practical and effective self defense, But it’s often called, “The Gentle Art” due to its emphasis on skill & technique as opposed to pure strength. It’s truly one of the safest contact sports you can do. Unlike MMA, BJJ utilizes solely chokes and joint locks and does not include strikes. The person on the receiving end of the submission actually CONTROLS the amount of time they spend in the submission. With a simple tap, one partner tells the other that the submission can no longer be defended and the match is over. Then, you stand up, fist bump, and start again.
Due to the nature of our classes and the environment in our academy, injuries are rare. The occasional bumps and bruises are more common, typically from two people moving toward the same thing at the same time. The majority of injuries we see people walk in with are sustained OUTSIDE of the academy. (After work softball and basketball teams are definitely the highest.. Especially when alcohol is involved..)
In my 15+ years on the mats, I’ve seen the occasional training injury, typically from someone utilizing strength over control. Regardless of how often black belt professors emphasize technique and control over strength, beginners almost ALWAYS start their training with these priorities in the wrong order. For that reason, white belts tend to sustain injuries more often than upper ranks who have matured in the sport and have truly subscribed to the belief that technique and control come first.
When students come in with an injury, whether it was sustained inside or outside of the academy, the first question they ask me is if they have to be done training. First and foremost, your actual treatment plan is something that should by your doctor. Feel free to make sure to educate your doctor on exactly what we do. Many doctors have no idea what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is, and if they have ever heard of it, they might have it confused with MMA. So, make sure they understand what you do, and work with you to create a reasonable & realistic recovery plan. (Except in the MOST EXTREME circumstances, the order to “never train again” is unreasonable.) Just like I’m not a doctor, your doctor is not a jiu jitsu practitioner. If your goal is to continue, let’s work together, along with any physical therapists, or recovery professionals, to help you achieve your goals.
Now, the REAL question to me is not, “Can I keep training during an injury?” The real question is “Should I keep coming in to the academy during an injury.” And while I’m not qualified to answer the first one, the answer to the second question is, “YES!”
As soon as you can physically make it into the academy, I want you there. Not only present, I want you gi’d up and on the mats with me. Your body may be injured, but your mind is not. I want to work with you to challenge your mind and think about jiu jitsu in a way that you CANNOT when you are actually physically practicing the sport. When you are watching and listening, you are LEARNING. You are seeing details that others miss and you’ll be helping your teammates learn.
Anyone who has ever taught anything will tell you that their own knowledge of their subject grew exponentially when they had to explain it to someone else. When you are injured, but participating in class like this, you will inevitably answer a question or two. Your brain will be challenged to understand the technique in an even more in depth way than you would if you were training.
Then, when you are physically able to start repping technique or training again, you will be SURPRISED that there is no rust to knock off. Your brain will be further ahead than you were before. Your conditioning will need to come back, but you won’t have taken any steps backwards, you won’t have fallen off the wagon, and your routine will have stayed the same. You are primed for a comeback during a time that MOST people quit. Coming into the academy while you’re injured is the KEY to continuing on the long journey and earning your black belt.
Despite the fact that this may seem like the obvious choice, your physical health is NOT the number one factor that will determine whether you achieve a black belt. Your MIND and your ROUTINE are far more important. Injuries slow the body but there is no reason why they should slow the growth of your mind or interrupt your routine. If you allow them to, that’s YOUR CHOICE alone.
If progressing and succeeding in jiu jitsu is important to you, protect your training routine as if it were a physical object. Don’t let people, injuries, outside influences mess with it. Don’t abandon it, don’t neglect it. Protect it, maintain it, and KEEP it.
Stability of routine is comforting and relieves stress. Coming into the academy is therapeutic. Your mind is occupied and you’re surrounded by people who care about you and support you. What more can you ask for when you are healing?
We have had students come into the academy during injuries and say how they just “Need” to be here. They feel better after just being present. The academy is a place of strength and collectively, your teammates can help bring you up and carry you through in a way that is much harder to do on your own.
At URSA Academy, we have had more than a handful of students going through cancer treatments while training. The treatment may stop the training temporarily, but that doesn’t stop them from coming in. They get strength from the teammates on the mat, and those on the mat have a beacon of inspiration sitting on the sidelines. It’s a pretty incredible transfer of energy and a powerful testament to the power of the TEAM.
So, if you’re injured, if you’re having a rough day, not feeling up to training full strength.. COME IN. Can’t do the Intermediate/Advanced class? Come to the first level BJJ class. Can’t do either? Gi up and come on the mats. I want you there. Let’s work together to make sure that the day you’re ready to train again, you’re further ahead than you were before.
See you on the mats.