The Art of Training Injured

Injury is a part of jiu jitsu, as it is of any sport. If you train seriously, you will often have to train through minor (and not-so-minor) injuries in the neck, back, knees, shoulders, wrists, elbows, ribs, hips, groin, fingers, toes, etc. I believe that  it’s possible to train in jiu jitsu at nearly 100% while some part of your body is injured. The range of possible techniques is so vast in BJJ that you can construct a whole game around the injury that:

  1. Protects the injured area
  2. Allows you to attack without using the injured body part
  3. Does not violate basic jiu jitsu fundamentals (posture, balance, pressure, base, etc)

As I’m injured now, the question often arises in my head whether I should tell my training partners that I’m injured. In my experience, that provides very little benefit, in that the training partner often starts flow rolling with me like I’m an 8 year old white belt who is trying jiu jitsu for the first time. Of course, they are often not used to rolling like that and thus move awkwardly. This ends up increasing the chance of aggravating the injury, instead of decreasing it like they expect.

The approach that has worked for me is I change my game to avoid certain positions which increase the likelihood of affecting the injured area. For example, for me right now, that position is inside a tight half guard. So I adjust my passing game so that I don’t end up in half guard, or if I do I attack it immediately to switch to reverse half guard to avoid the kind of position that will put too much pressure on my injury.

In a way, training injured is a selfish act, because it’s much harder for the non-injured training partner to have to adjust. Some people choose to sit out all together. That doesn’t work for me. I always put a lot of emphasis on drilling, but live training is essential, and I find that if I come at it with no ego, it’s possible to train hard without aggravating the injury.

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