As practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we all at some point deal with an injury. Whether its as simple as a slight soreness, or a torn ligament, we all go through it.
Injury is something that any athlete must deal with. When we put our bodies through demanding activity such as jiu jitsu, it can eventually take a toll on the entire human composition.
As someone who is recovering from a jiu jitsu related injury, I can tell you from personal experience that getting injured can affect you in many ways. Sure, there is the physical pain and frustration, but there is also a level of mental difficulty when dealing with an injury.
When the doctor told me that it could take up to an entire month for my sprained MCL to heal, I was pretty disappointed. Then again, there are injuries that can affect you for much longer, so I had to look at it in the most positive way possible.
After a few weeks of not training, I felt much different. I didn’t have as much energy and wasn’t as hungry throughout the day, due to less energy exertion and a slowed metabolism. I definitely was going through what some people might refer to as “BJJ withdrawals”.
I really missed being on the mats with my friends and training partners, and at a great gym like Black Diamond MMA, it was really difficult to deal with (If you live in New England, come train with us for a day or two!)
Even though I was injured, I still was able to find a way to train off of the mats. Of course when you cannot physically be on the mats, your training cannot reach anywhere near its full potential, but there are several things that I personally did to train off of the mats and help keep my mind sharp as a dagger.
Here are some things that can help you stay sharp and help you train while off the mats:
Being with the team
As frustrating as it can be to watch when you’re injured on the sidelines, attending practices when possible great for keeping the mind sharp and focused on training. The sense of involvement with the team is there, and it’s almost impossible not to coach your own team mates during the live sparring sessions. (I am totally guilty of this lol)
While attending training sessions injured, I would bring my notebook, which helped me stay up to date with what the coaches were teaching, as I would write down the days’ techniques and lessons. This way I would not lose anything, and I could refer back to my notes once I was capable of the physicality.
This is actually an extremely effective training technique performed by many uninjured athletes, BJJ or non BJJ. The mind becomes strong when you visualize your techniques in great detail. If you think about every little detail and nuance of your techniques and you continuously and consciously visualize them, you will see improvement.
This can help greatly when you cannot physically perform the techniques!
Studying the Game
If you are unable to train because of an injury, what better way to stay in touch with the sport than to study it rigorously? For the past month I have been watching all sorts of live matches between some of the worlds top black belts, ranging from galo/pluma weight all the way to heavy weight. I’ve been studying everything from the best sweeps to the most common gi chokes seen in competition. I must say, doing this has definitely helped me in a cerebral sense, and I feel like I am more of a BJJ nerd than ever.
If you are dealing with an injury whether serious or minor, try these 3 things out. I guarantee they will keep your mind sharp and as my coach would say, keep you “on the path”.
One last word of advice to anyone who is injured:
Have patience. Healing takes time, and there is no point in getting frustrated about it. It is a situation where you have little to no control over how long it takes to recover, so just do what the doc says a rest up!