Today, we’ll talk about how to avoid injuries in BJJ.
BJJ is a combat sport. Even though it’s considered safer than other martial arts, injuries are still common.
I always had the perception that injuries are just bad luck. Something that happens to you. While there is some truth to it, it’s wrong to think that way.
John Danaher once said: “50-70% of the worst injuries in BJJ are entirely avoidable.”
And I think that holds true. I spoke to many people about that topic and got many different perspectives that I’m gonna share with you in this post.
What Are The Common BJJ Injuries?
In BJJ, we have less severe injuries, such as broken bones, but we have more chronic long-term injuries, such as lower back pain.
The most common BJJ injuries in BJJ are:
- 1. Lower Back Injuries
- 2. Neck Injuries
- 3. Knee Injuries
- 4. Shoulder Injuries
- 5. Wrist, Hand, And Finger Injuries
- 6. Elbow Injuries
- 7. Cauliflower Ear
- 8. Skin Infections
- 9. Concussions
Personally, I have dealt with dislocated fingers, wrist issues, tennis elbows, and skin infections. I’m young, so my body is able to recover fast. But when you speak to the older BJJ folks, you’ll notice that some of them have severe issues.
It’s inevitable that you get injured – but there are some things you can do to minimize the risk. If you’re the person who has had a lot of these injuries, you need to start asking yourself this question: Am I responsible for those?
How To Avoid Injuries in BJJ
1. Strength Training
You need to work out. The number one protection against injuries is to strengthen your body. I dodged many injuries because I built a strong and resilient body. Don’t underestimate this.
You need to start thinking like an athlete. You’ll be less injured and your BJJ will improve.
Skin infections are real in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I sweat so much during BJJ class. Do me a favor and take care of your hygiene. I had staph infections before, and it’s not fun.
Of course, you cannot control other people’s hygiene, but you can control your own. It’s a nasty injury and will keep you out of the mats for a long time if you are not careful.
3. Choose who you roll with
Now, this one is huge. Usually, you’ll know really quickly with whom the roll will be a war and with whom you can have a chill one. In every gym, there are guys with big egos.
That’s why I’m a fan of approaching the people I wanna roll with. Be initiative. If you wait until you get chosen, you won’t have any control over who’ll choose you. Of course, you can also say no, but it’s best if you go forward and approach people.
Take control over who you train with.
This one is for me. I skip warm-ups a lot. Somehow, the higher the belt, the fewer warm-ups people do…:D Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is somehow the only combat sport where warm-ups are forgotten.
I’m still young, so I can get away with it (most times…), but the older you get, the more important warm-ups become. You need to make it a point to warm up. If your gym doesn’t warm up, come 5 minutes earlier and warm yourself up.
5. Good communication
I need to get better at this. I used not to have any conversations whatsoever before a roll. I’d just roll with anybody without hesitation. But it’s good to communicate with your training partners what kind of roll you want to have.
Communicate if you have an injury. And tell them – do you want to have a war? Do you want to go slow? Do you want to work on something specific?
Communication is key. You’ll avoid injuries, and your fellow BJJ practitioners will appreciate it.
6. No slamming
This one is huge!! Don’t slam, don’t jump into guard, don’t drop your weight on somebody. I believe every BJJ Gym needs to establish these rules to make it safer for everybody.
“90% of the worst injuries in BJJ come from falling bodyweight. It’s not heel hooks, it’s not the armbars that hurt you. It’s people landing on you.”John Danaher
Read this quote again. 90% is nuts. So we can actually proactively avoid injuries in BJJ. Just leave out falling onto each other. Communicate that!
7. Tap Early
Now, you still need to tap early. If you’re in a position you cannot get out of, just tap. After a while, you’ll know when you can tough it out and when it’s time to tap.
I had some bad experiences with tapping out too late when I got armbared. I had problems with my elbows for weeks. So don’t be like me. I know it can get competitive, and that’s okay. Just know, life will go on, even if you tap…
8. Train light if injured
I’m a fan of going to practice even if you have a small injury (except if it’s a skin infection, stay home!!). When I have small injuries, I go for the drilling and maybe do some positional sparring. And If I feel good I do 1-2 light rolls.
But I see too many training full blast with injuries. It’s good to think like a warrior. But be a smart one. Overtraining is real. Give your body the rest it needs.
I was training with a sprained finger for weeks. What could’ve healed within 2 weeks took 3 months to heal completely.
9. Control your Ego
Ego in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is common. Even though I think there’s less ego in BJJ than in other martial arts, there’s still a lot of Ego in the training room. It’s just how it is.
But you need to control yours. Many BJJ injuries happen because of Ego, Maybe you didn’t tap where you should’ve tapped, you went too aggressive on someone, you wanted to win at all costs, etc…
Don’t be that guy or girl. In the end, it’s just Jiu-Jitsu…
10. Use Protective Gear
When I started to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I went to practice with my regular Gym clothes. And I paid for it with rashes. I’d advise you to invest in a couple of Rash Guards. They keep your skin safe.
Also, it’d be smart to invest in a mouthguard too. They not only protect your teeth and tongue, but also help against concussions. Even though you don’t throw punches in BJJ, accidental blows do happen.
Which BJJ Techniques Should Be Banned?
I heard John Danaher talking about BJJ techniques that should be banned in BJJ training. You can do them in competition or in an MMA fight, but not during practice. And I thought they made a lot of sense. So here are the techniques he wants to ban:
By jumping into Guard, you are throwing body weight onto your opponent uncontrollably. Uncontrolled movements lead to injuries. That, combined with falling body weights, and you are destined for a disaster.
So pull Guard, don’t jump Guard.
Here, as well, you’ll fall with your whole body weight onto your opponent’s body. That, combined with a submission attempt, can end pretty badly. Again, do them in competition, not in practice.
Don’t jump onto your training partners!!
So, to round up the post, please take care of yourself. Avoiding Injuries are a huge part of how to get better. If you’re constantly injured, you won’t get better.
Even though there are some things out of our control, there are many things we can do to avoid injuries.
So please, for your and your training partners’ sake – do everything in your control to stay safe.