In any endeavor, particularly one that involves putting breaking forces on an opponents joints, injuries are an inevitable factor. The implications following a serious injury are fairly obvious but there are a few main distinctions when it comes to the types of injuries you can sustain and how to respond thereafter.
The first scenario is one where an injury occurs during a match and the athlete is forced to give up. Unfortunately this is simply a consequence of competing in Jiu a Jitsu at the highest level. What should follow is an immediate focus on returning to full health, by full health I mean “able to practice”. Additionally you and your coach should review your match, take note of the mistakes and look to make the necessary adjustments in training.
Another scenario is where an injury occurs during a match but the athlete is able to continue and possibly win. Athletes are capable of displaying tremendous ability to overcome all odds to reach their goals. One of the first things to come to terms with is whether or not you believe you can win. There will come times that in order to preserve your career, a forfeit is in order. This is 100% the athletes decision, Ronaldo Jacaré Souza displayed remarkable toughness and intelligence as he triumphed over legendary Roger Gracie via decision to win the World Championships in the Absolute category. In this match, Jacaré had his arm broken only minutes into the fight after securing a takedown. While this is the least desirable circumstance, so long as you compete the day will come where an injury occurs (even minor) and you will be faced with the decision to continue or to forfeit. If you don’t believe you can win that match, you must forfeit and learn from your mistakes with the hopes of returning stronger and more improved. Don’t be a tough guy just to prove something. If you think you have a shot at winning, go for it!
The last scenario I will cover is one where an injury is sustained that severely limits the athlete in training. While rest and recovery is important, as a competitor, it is of greater importance to continue improving your skills each and every day. Even if it means watching. If you look towards the sports of wrestling, boxing, judo you will find that these athletes rarely allow injuries to prevent them from improving in some way. When your legs are injured you can always do something more upper body specific or simply attend and watch sparring rounds to develop your mind but you should never lose your mentality of daily improvement if you wish to reach your highest capability in Jiu Jitsu. Injuries also have a way of forcing you to adapt and work with a limitation a skill that can suddenly be crucial in a match.
Nature is defined by balance. The world would not be what it was without having lush rainforests and deserts to contrast it. Without sun we would be a frozen wasteland and without night the world would turn into another furnace. So too within, as much as there is a warm side to humans, there is a cold and dark side. This side of us is not to be revered nor feared, it simply is. By acknowledging that we are all meant to do good all the time we detach ourselves from the reality that we like our ancestors have to fight and kill to survive. While “killing” nowadays can have little to do with drawing actual blood, our intentions to provide and excel above others and their tribes still exist. As far removed from the days of charging with swords as we are, the battlefield now is only different. A group of housewives might use their words and actions with the same intentions as a King who chooses to torture and behead his fallen opponent. Understand that even the most brutal of killers have performed acts of kindness and mercy so too have those with high moral ground engaged in ruthless and vicious acts against others, whether emotional or psychological. Accept that man is imperfect and there is a time for us to embrace our cold dark side as much as our warm fuzzy side. Balance is the only way.
Recently I have been struggling to maintain any semblance of consistency with my blog. My goal is simple, one post a day with the only rule being that it must be done outside of my working hours. Plainly put, running a business in California, particularly a gym, during the pandemic has been an absolute nightmare emotionally, physically and financially. Allow me to say this, I’m not here to whine about my situation (there is opportunity in every dire circumstance) but merely to point out what many Americans are feeling. Something COVID-19 has certainly taught us is the value of our family and not just our blood but our tribe. If not for the many sensational souls at Hargett and Six Blades Jiu Jitsu La Quinta I would lack the accountability they provide. While it’s easy to tell someone to toughen up and be consistent (oftentimes this is needed), sometimes this has much to do with the circle of friends and family who surround and influence them. Some of you are truly sorry and need a hard kick in the pants to stop wasting your life. The rest of us, should understand that consistency comes not only from internal sources (self drive, motivation, inspiration) but external sources (family, culture, respect from your tribe) and can be greatly affected by selecting quality individuals to impact your decision making.
Often I have joked with my friends who have difficulty sleeping about their “superpower” of having more time throughout the day. 8 hours of sleep cut out of a 24 hour day leaves one with 16 hours, where the restless mind may have 20. While in jest, there is a truth to the idea and most importantly a revelation in the value of time and it’s management (something I struggle with). 4 extra hours a day comes out to 1,424 hours a year, coming out to almost 60 days a year! Imagine competing in any field against someone who held 60 days of practice over you! While sleep might be the most beneficial form of regeneration for us, there’s no secret to why many of the successful are routinely early risers (Tony Robbins, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Johnson etc).
It’s 4:30AM as I cruise along the California I-10 freeway en route to the Santa Ana River trail to fish. Despite running on less than 4 hours of sleep the road has a desirable effect. One can only wonder how a sleep deprived state on a cold morning can offer more joy than than the comfort of a warm bed. Is it any surprise the lengths that people will go for the sake of achieving peace? The wars that are fought, dangerous peaks climbed, laws of nature defied for that moment of nothingness where one is simply content just to be. Resist the urge to avoid “the uncomfortable” you never know where you will find your peace.
There comes a point where one realizes that life is about colorful experiences. Many of these experiences are not found in the comfort zone but rather they require sacrifice. Sometimes you have to trade sleep to find a beautiful sunrise, or get over your fear of starting up a conversation with an attractive woman, even trek for days to find a glorious view. Less dramatic examples might include deciding to spend time with family members you don’t always make the time for or going to a new place for dinner rather than the “go to”. Without seeking new adventures like this I might not have tried Jiu Jitsu or find out that I would come to love the United States of America and what it represents. So next time you’re about to go on autopilot mode and do what you always do, remind yourself that better memories are always possible.
We are surrounded by heroes every day. From the likes of Connor McGregor or Amanda Ribas who struggle and fail valiantly before millions to your mom or dad who displayed such qualities you could only wish for. Without heroes, the day would never come where it was our turn to spread hope as some others once did for us.
If Covid 19 has taught us gym goers anything it is that we are far less capable than we think. At the same time, it has taught some of us how much more capable we are. Those of us who experienced the luxury of public gyms were suddenly thrown into chaos due to shut downs. While some of us used this as an opportunity to redefine and rediscover what health and fitness meant to us, others quickly fell victim to excuses, paving the way for poor habits and lack of activity. For those who adapted and evolved, they were rewarded with the freedom that comes with having full control of your health and fitness regardless of the circumstances.
Regardless of who you are when you begin your Jiu Jitsu journey, one thing is certain. The person who emerges after years of hard training, dedication, blood sweat and tears is undoubtedly your better self, so long as you maintain the mindset of daily improvement.
If your goal is to be a gym-hero, smashing every student that crosses your path, it’s not to say that you will not achieve a high level of BJJ but rather that you will fail to learn many of the valuable lessons that occur through struggle and hardship.
When you seek to improve, you will be tested far more than those who stay in their comfort zone. A great example of this is students who use practice to develop their weakest positions as opposed to their strongest. While you will no doubt endure significantly more difficulty than in your most trying positions, you will also receive much faster and greater improvement.
How many times has a great idea come upon you only to be lost until it resurfaces years later? Resist the need to ignore your inspirations and procrastinate, no matter how big your idea, you must start. Starting can mean many things but usually the most important is to avoid your idea becoming a fleeting thought, only to be found when it is too late. A great tool I have found is to write it down. It doesn’t have to make sense, it has to exist. In competitive sports, we analyze tape to gain insight and examine strengths and weaknesses. As you can imagine, there is no tape for our thoughts which is why we must resort to writing. If our “cave ancestors” were able to discover the significance of recording our ideas, we too can harness the power of technology and document our ideas via dictation apps, etc. Don’t wait, just do it!