Last post, we discussed how to avoid injuries in jiu jitsu; however, when we live active lives, injuries are bound to find us in some form or another. Injuries come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the injury and severity, we can get side lined from jiu jitsu.
Achieving a black belt in jiu jitsu requires many years of consistent practice, and injuries can feel like major roadblocks on our path to mastery. This can be incredibly frustrating; not only do we all want to make progress growing into the best versions of ourselves, but we also don't want to miss out on all the fun of training.
A few years ago, I broke my hand falling off my bike. This was less than a week out from a tournament I had planned to travel to compete in. I was devastated that instead of getting to compete, I got to have surgery to pin my thumb back to my wrist. While in a cast, I had metal nails sticking out of hand, so sweating posed risk of serious infection that could literally penatrate to the bone. For weeks, I sat on the side of the mats and watched class. I was there to get mental reps; visualize the movements so my brain could get the practice that my body couldn't. This may seem simple, but it can actually be very challenging. This kind of mental practice takes a ton of focus, and I found myself mentally wandering off constantly, and the further removed I was from training, the harder it became to concentrate. Just staying focused in this way is it's own practice, but visualization can help us make huge strides in developing our jiu jitsu whether we're injured or not.
Six weeks after the surgery, the cast came off and the nails were pulled out of my hand, but I still needed to wear a splint for another 5 months. My thumb could barely move at all and still constantly ached, but at least at this point I could get on the mats without risking infection. I would drill what I could, avoid movements that could put myself at risk of hurting my hand worse, and completely skipped any live training.
I was extremely diligent with my rehab, and by the time my thumb had full range of motion, I felt it was safe for me to start some live training. I chose my training partners carefully, and continued to wear my splint to do my best to avoid any setbacks. It is super important to be picky about who you train with when you're hurt and to only roll with people you trust to move with precision and control. It is also important—especially when you're hurt—to move with control and without ego. Uncontrolled movements, a.k.a. spazzing out, puts both players at risk of getting hurt.
There can be lots of ways to work around an injury depending on what is injured. Splinting or reinforcing a limb can sometimes be an option, but also positional sparring from specific spots can limit the action in ways that can help restrict the use of the injured limb.