“You are just going to get hurt and all beaten up why on earth would you want to do that?”
This is a certainty I have had TOLD to me by many people over the last couple of years. Not folk who do train, or people who have been down, not even by folk who really know what BJJ is, just by folk who KNOW.
Well the simple answer to that is NO, you are not going to get hurt and beaten up if you go to the right club which will have the right people, the right setup, the right coach and the correct rules.
Now OK I admit I write this with a bit of a poorly elbow due to an expertly applied arm bar which I was fighting so hard that when it went on it went on. Thus ignoring my own advice about slowing down. J
But let me talk about my tally, from a young age to 30 ish the PBJJ years (pre BJJ) I spent a lot of time, fighting with my brother, playing rugby at a good level, doing various sports, drinking and misbehaving.
I suffered 14 broken, fractured or dislocated bones, including a fractured skull (happened in the bath a story for my latter years J) and a knee injury. The knee injury was skiing and comprised off, a fractured knee cap, torn interior and anterior cruciate and medial ligaments, a snapped patella tendon, a broken femur, a snapped kneecap, double dislocation and break of my ankle, my shin broken in 2 places and couple of operations, some metal, some fibre and 2 years physio.
From the age of 30 to where I am now 33 and a bit, my BJJ years, in BJJ class I have suffered a couple of black eyes, a couple of broken toes, a bloody nose and a few aching joints including my current poorly elbow, which is in all honestly just one of those things and not too bad in fact I trained last night.
So why do people have this perception that you are always injured or you will get hurt if you do BJJ. Well I do have a theory and I think it is a mind set thing with the whole sport. When I played rugby if I strained my groin muscle or broke a bone I took time off, no training and rested. With BJJ a broken toe is just something to be taped to another toe, a strained muscle just means you take it easier when you roll. This is where the issue lies, now I do BJJ it has become something more than a hobby it is really a passion I do not want to miss time. So I could sit at home with my elbow all poorly and ice it some more and just take it easy, but that is never gonna happen. So that night I iced my elbow, stuck some gel on it and last night taped it (for about 10 mins till it annoyed me) and just said “if you get an arm bar on that arm it is yours just take it do not put it on” my team mates were all cool with that and I rolled away merrily.
Thereby lies the problem, it is something I see night in night out and am guilty of it myself, a small injury which is not enough to stop you rolling is never given the chance to heal, so six months down the line the finger is still broken or the muscle still a bit sore. Couple that with the fact that there are still more men than woman doing the sport and most men, myself included would rather wait for a dislocated shoulder/elbow/spine to “get better” than bother the doctor.
From the outside then all people see is the fact that you seem perpetually injured, and if you ever end up with a Gi burn or black eye well shock horror that is further validation of their fears. They forget that unlike in boxing when the KO blow is thrown or in football when the chest high world cup kick comes, we can tap before it gets too painful before it delivers the coup de grace. Also the fact that before we do a general mixed belt roll John reads “the rules” no neck cranks, nothing that goes against the neck, straight back foot locks only, no knee bars, no small joint manipulation take all the fingers or none, no slamming (which is my lament J) , try not to lift your opponent (a blow for BMJ) and remember we all are friends and all a team.
Now do not get me wrong serious injuries do occur of course they do and to anyone who does get hurt my sympathies as I lost a chance to take my rugby further because of my knee. All I am saying is that the occurrence of these injuries and also the minor ones is not really any different and probably less than most sports or even accidents at home.
Put it like this I have never stood on a plug at training but I have at home, and my lord that smarts.