Category Archives: injuries

Motivated!

A week ago on a rainy day, I sprained my ankle on my way to work. I should have gone home because I almost broke my other foot that same day. X-rays and CT scans later, I have a few small longitudinal lesions on my tendons which is disabling my ability to bend my toes. I decided to tough it out last Friday and head with R to the gym to start training again.

I think I lasted all of 10 minutes into the warm up when I jammed my toes horribly and had to get a bag of ice to calm down the re-aggravated injury. Needless to say, I didn’t start training that day. I stayed to watch the class but it made me even more frustrated knowing that it’s difficult for me to learn without actually putting my body through the paces. Class was attacking from the turtle position and the resulting clock choke. R promised to drill this with me at home when the foot starts to behave itself.

Saturday was a local BJJ tournament hosted by our gym. R spent the day refereeing on one of the mats and I brought the pup along to watch the competitions. It was exciting to see old friends and teammates compete and do extremely well on the mats! It just made me realize how much I seem to have fallen behind in my own training.

So.

I have just under one month to get back into it and hopefully register for my very first tournament! I would have been officially training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for eight months at that point and want to get used to that ‘OhmygodI’msonervousIneedtothrowup’ feeling. I’m told you don’t really get used to it per-say. It’s more that your body is accustomed to the adrenaline and doesn’t think it’s nausea. Superb.

I’m on a goal to drop weight and train hard for the next 5 weeks.

Here we go, wish me luck!


Training for Longevity

R trains at a different gym than I do, and I have much respect for his head instructor. I was listening to the Fightworks Podcast (It’s free! Go download it!) the other day on an interview with him and he was talking about ‘training for longevity.’

I knew it wasn’t the first time I had heard that expression. When a visiting black belt came to give a seminar at our school a few weeks back. I know that I plan on training for a long time and being riddled with little injuries here and there makes me frustrated. I’m sitting here blogging with a tweaked knee and sore ribs.

Even before I began to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I was a bit of a klutz. Now, little things on the mat seem to get the better of me. For example, I was rolling with T in class earlier this week when he did a simple sweep and I landed at an awkward angle on my right knee. I felt a jarring pain instantly and grimaced with disappointment. I was looking forward to staying after class for open mat and working on the test requirements, and I knew this would force me to sit out for the rest of the day. I left right after class to avoid being asked to roll and explain my cause.

However, I’m sitting here blogging after a second class earlier today where I wore my knee brace and grumbled under my breath as settling into mount brought discomfort to my knees. Of course, we’re working on mount escapes this week.

I can’t help but think that in the long run, I won’t be worried about all these little tweaks as they tend to be inevitable in a sport that’s so physical. Keeping my eye on training for the long-term, I’m learning to sit out when it’s appropriate and take a break when my body needs it. It also means that my training and progress might be a little slower than I want  since I tend to go full tilt when I commit to learning something new. If I want to avoid more injuries, it means being more deliberate with my movements and more aware of my body. Especially when I’m injured.


That familiar feeling.

Finally headed back to the gym this morning after taking almost an entire week off due to my back injury. I’m probably 90% fully recovered, but since it’s a sensitive issue like my back I’m not taking any chances.

It was great to get started and see the regulars at the gym again. We stretched and chatted a bit before class began. It just felt so good to get back into my gi and tumble around. There were a few new kids in class, but nobody I recognized so I stuck with my friends.

Today’s class was a bear hug escape and mount escapes. I tripled up with A and another white belt I’m unfamiliar with, but he looked huge! I hung around A since he’s much closer to my size and I wasn’t going to try to stress my back by lifting anyone heavy. Another blue belt came in late, so once the numbers were even again, A and I paired up for the remainder of the mount escapes. Our general consensus about mount: it’s probably our least favourite advantageous position. Because I’m usually lighter than my opponent, I feel extremely unstable in mount. Whether my opponent is bridging, or attempting a sweep or escape, my instinct is to hop over into side control instead. It’s something I know I need work on, and perhaps might drill it with R later on this week when I have more time to dedicate to it. After the technique drills, I sat out for the positional training as I didn’t want to risk my back on my first day back.

The day was a little nostalgic since I recall this particular class fairly clearly. I think it was the first BJJ class I *ever* attended at the gym, and it was with the same instructor too! It feels like I’ve been at the gym forever, when really it’s only been around 4 months at least consistently. I still tell people I started in January because I think I attended a total of 3 classes in December. In any case, in a short time I’ve made some great friends and worked hard! It’s going to be a good week in class. I can feel it.


When push comes to shove…

Anger.

Being a rather ‘emotionless’ person – as my familiy would probably describe me as, I don’t frequently experience anger. In fact, I can’t recall a time I’ve ever been truly angry during an athletic pursuit. That being said, most of my past competitive sports have been individual sports. Competitive swimming, dragonboat racing and even rowing are all competitive sports where even though there may be other teams racing against you, your greatest opponent is yourself.

Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has taught me about the human condition, about how people change, and express themselves particularly on the mat, or traditionally – dojo.

I had a rather interesting experience that really threw me into a contemplative mood last Friday.

I was at the afternoon class, one of my favourites, as the instructor doesn’t try to kill us during the warmup. He’s actually a big proponent of active stretching which is great right before a bjj class.

My friend, K was in class and being the only two girls we naturally paired up. I remember my first few classes when I first started training were with K. She taught me some valuable lessons about body positioning and staying active. I loved rolling with her because she was a little more aggressive and wasn’t afraid to bring up the intensity with me.

We were working on escapes from side mount and at one point, she had managed to pin one of my arms between our chests. I made a deliberate effort to pull my arm out, elbow first. Unfortunately I actually managed to pretty strong elbow straight to her jaw. She bit her tongue and although there wasn’t much blood, I could tell from her facial expression that it probably hurt quite a bit. I apologized immediately, as it really was an accident.

We set up for another round and she went at 100% intensity on me. She likely outweighs me by at least 30-40lbs, and is much taller and stronger than I am and I’m still unsure whether or not she took an elbow to my head deliberately or accidentally in that round. I shrugged it off and tried not to let it bother me.

She left right after class, and I didn’t get a chance to apologize again, and I’m unsure when I’ll see her in class again.

Perhaps I’m just reading into it, but was she really angry at me? And why was I so bothered by it?

I had spoken to a few friends about it, but in reality I think there’s something about pain that triggers an emotional response. I’ll admit, I don’t know what it’s like to be in that situation (yet?) It’s frustrating to think that people lash out in anger when training. I mean, that defeats the purpose of training. Learning to express and manage your emotions when you’re upset during training should be fundamental to a physical sport such as submission grappling.

 


On injuries.

As a child, I’ve always been very accident-prone. In fact, I think it was a fairly known fact that my family thought I was a bit of a klutz. Even growing up, I think my propensity towards ‘individual’ sports such as competitive swimming and paddling helped to solidify those theories.

I’ve got poor hand-eye coordination when it comes to spherical objects – seriously. Please don’t throw a ball at me. I’m not sure what I would do. I might duck, but I also might try some sort of heroic dive to catch it (and thus, hurt myself by falling.)

Anyway, training in BJJ is one of those things that I figured it would be fairly difficult for me to injure myself. I mean, I’m surrounded by padded mats all the time, right? :) Naturally, my theory proved me wrong. Aside from the recurring mat burn on my knees, feet and ‘knuckles of my toes’, I’ve managed to re-aggravate some old injuries. I sprained my left ankle as a teenager playing basketball and now I re-sprain the same ankle every single summer – sometimes more than once per summer season. Last week I stumbled during the warmup and tweaked that same ankle.

I’ve also got an old knee injury that hurt after training last week. I’ve been wearing my knee brace when I can, but also working on some leg exercises to strengthen my knees. I’ve got a poor family history of bad knees and knee replacement surgeries. I’d like to keep my biological knees for as long as possible.

I’m trying to be deliberate with my movements, and take things slow during training while I work on the fundamentals. Rolling with R has really helped with this. The goal during our sessions is for me to be aware of body positioning and move with purpose. They tend to be really slow, and when I move too quickly I tend to injure myself.

For example, I asked R to roll with me after a noon class at our gym last week and he patiently obliged. We started off well, and fresh from my class, I was practicing the stack pass with fairly good memory. He started to come forward and attack me with a kimura to my left arm and for some odd reason I panicked and brought my head to my left shoulder to ‘protect’ it. Which would have been fine except that as R leaned back to complete the submission, momentum pulled me forward and I tried to roll forward. I heard this sickening string of cracks and felt my neck pulled in an awkward direction. I rolled out and brought my hands up to protect my neck (R had thankfully let go when I cried out at that point). My neck felt weird, with a twinge of pain but thankfully it was nothing serious. I know he felt horrible since he was visiting my gym, and he thought that he hurt me. I think I was more startled by the sound and the awkward feeling rather than the roll itself. I convinced him I was fine and we kept going. Which ended up being a great segue into how to protect your arm from the kimura.

In the end, I’m learning to protect my body instinctively, but also work harder so that I’m not so prone to injury in the future. This is also why one of my goals this year is to be able to do a handstand (without the assistance of a wall or another person!) I believe that being able to do a handstand will help me with body awareness and balance which then becomes practical when I rely on my body to defend and position itself naturally.

 

 


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