4 Ways You Can Keep Training BJJ or Judo While Injured

Today we have a guest post (inspired by my recent wrist injury) from one of our top contributors, 5th Dan judo instructor, Kelly Palmer. Kelly has been involved in Judo for over 40 years. He and his training partner/ co-instructor, Gord Okamura, are national champions and are ranked top ten internationally in judo kata. The post talks specifically about judo, but is easily applicable to BJJ or any type of grappling! -Jason

If you stay in Judo for any length of time, chances are you’ll pick up the odd bang, bruise, twist or strain (or what we’re now calling “Judo Toe”). After all, Judo is a full contact fighting art. It also is comparatively safe – we spend a good amount of time at the beginning of Judo both learning how to fall, and then practicing it. This is reflected in several studies I have looked at, where Judo injury rates are comparable, or less, than other contact fighting arts – and less than soccer, ice hockey or volleyball!

I’ve also found that just plain being alive can lead to injuries – last year I was wearing a wrist brace due to a sprain from moving boxes at home. A few years ago, I had a severe cut on my hand from a door at home (what is it about my house?). Injuries don’t always come from Judo!

So – what should you do if injured? If it is at practice, of course let your instructors know. It’s always worthwhile to seek medical attention – sometimes the doctors will say the equivalent of “yes, you’re hurt” but can do little (Judo Toe is a good example).

Next, make sure you take time to heal. I know that in the past I have been guilty of pushing my injury too hard, too early – and sometime re-injuring myself because of it. Make sure you take the time to get better.

But – here’s the main point. Does taking time to heal mean that you must stop training completely? Of course, it depends on your injury.

However, often there are still things that you can do

1. Light or medium intensity standing technical practice, with or without throwing

  • Uchikomi (example: since I hurt my right wrist, I've been working on my right ippon seoi nage instead of my right morote seoi)
  • Crash pad throws
  • Solo uchikomi and general movement while standing
  • Innertube uchikomi

2. Working on specific ground techniques

3. Get exercise

  • Hurt something in your upper body? Do squats, sprints, jumps, or weighted vest exercises.
  • Hurt your lower body? Do some bench presses and rows, chins, dips, battle ropes or other upper body lifts.
  • Walk, run, whatever you are able to do without aggravating your injury

4. Learn more about Judo/BJJ by

  • Watch technique videos
  • Watch tournament footage
  • Read a book about Judo/BJJ

The point is to pick and choose things that work around your injury. By doing this, you can still progress. You must rest your injury and allow it to heal. But this may not mean you have to give up all activity.

This leads me to two of my favourite quotes:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

– John Wooden, Basketball Hall of Famer

“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.”

– Jerry Rice, Football Player

Be sensible if an injury arrives. See a doctor. Take time to heal. And don’t let it stop your Judo education.

Have you ever trained while injured? What didi you do and what were the results? Post in the comments below!


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