Many people wonder: is BJJ a safe sport?
The answer is yes, BJJ can be considered a safe sport when practiced with proper training, supervision, and adherence to safety guidelines.
However, while BJJ is a relatively safe sport, injuries can still occur, especially during training.
Fortunately, research indicates that BJJ is one of the safest martial arts and combat sports to participate in.
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Table of Contents
A Brief Overview Of BJJ
BJJ is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.
It is a popular sport and self-defense technique that has gained a lot of attention in recent years.
BJJ is known for its effective techniques and emphasis on leverage and technique over brute strength.
Injury Rates In BJJ
One of the most common concerns about BJJ is whether or not it is safe.
According to several studies, BJJ has a relatively low risk of injury compared to other combat sports such as MMA, boxing, and muay thai.
A study conducted at the University of Hawaii found that BJJ had fewer injuries in competition than wrestling, judo, MMA, or Taekwondo.
The study showed there were only 46 injuries out of 5022 total match participations.
Another study conducted in 2019 found that BJJ is one of the least dangerous combat sports to participate in.
The most frequent injuries were elbow sprains and knee sprains, with arm bars being responsible for the most damage to fighters.
Elbow strains were by far the most prevalent ailment in the study.
BJJ also has a lower injury rate than soccer, which is often considered a safe sport.
The techniques in BJJ have been designed to be performed safely, and there is a strong culture in BJJ of protecting your training partners.
Basically, the risk of serious injury in BJJ is relatively low, especially if proper safety precautions are taken.
Most Common Injuries In BJJ
Injuries in BJJ can occur due to the intense physical nature of the sport, the aggressive nature of opponents, and the complexity of the techniques involved.
In this section, I will discuss some of the most common injuries that can occur during BJJ training and competition.
Knee injuries are one of the most common injuries in BJJ.
These injuries can occur due to the high frequency of takedowns, leg locks and throws in the sport.
Knee injuries can range from minor sprains and strains to more serious injuries such as ligament tears and meniscus injuries.
Back injuries are another common injury in BJJ and it can range from minor strains to more serious injuries such as herniated discs.
To be honest, if you want to train BJJ, you might as well be ready to deal with back pain on a daily basis.
I always tell new white belts that realistically speaking, they will have to learn how to make peace with back pain once they are committed to master the martial art.
Elbow, arm and shoulder injuries
Elbow, arm and shoulder injuries are also common in BJJ.
They can occur due to submission holds such as arm bars, americana and kimura.
Arm-related injuries can also occur because of the inability to do a proper break fall or framing the wrong way using the arm.
Finger and toe injuries
BJJ requires you to do a lot of grip fighting and using your toes as an anchor point for leverage.
Amid the intensity of a roll, your finger and toes will be put under a lot of stress and pressure.
This can cause them to bend the wrong way or getting twisted.
Head and neck injuries
Head and neck injuries are the scariest in BJJ or any other form of sports.
These injuries can range from minor concussions to more serious injuries such as brain damage.
They can occur in BJJ due to accidental strikes to the head or neck, as well as chokes that are not properly executed and become more of neck cranks.
Skin infections can occur in BJJ due to the close contact involved in the sport.
These infections can range from minor skin irritations to more serious infections such as staph and ringworm.
To prevent skin infections, it is important to shower immediately after training, wear rashguards, and avoid training when you have an open wound or infection.
How To Prevent Injuries In BJJ
By now, you should have learned that injuries will happen if you train BJJ.
However, there are several steps that you, as a practitioner, can take to reduce the risk of injury while training.
Tap early, tap often
The easiest thing that BJJ practitioners can do to prevent injuries is to tap out early and tap out often.
Tapping out is a way of signaling to your training partner that you are in a vulnerable position and that you do not want to risk injury.
Many injuries in BJJ occur when practitioners do not tap out early enough and try to tough it out.
It is important to remember that there is no shame in tapping out and that it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Do not overtrain
Overtraining is a common problem in BJJ and can lead to a variety of injuries, including muscle strains, sprains, and tears.
It can also lead to burnout and can make it more difficult to improve your skills.
Remember; more is not always better.
Remember to stretch before and after class
Stretching is an important part of injury prevention in BJJ.
Before class, it is important to do a thorough warm-up that includes stretching and mobility exercises.
This will help to prepare your body for the physical demands of training.
After class, it is important also to do a cool-down that includes stretching and foam rolling.
This will prevent muscle soreness and stiffness.
Make the most of your rest days
Rest days are just as important as training days in BJJ.
Rest days allow your body to recover and repair from the physical demands of training.
It is important to take at least one or two rest days per week and to listen to your body.
Make the most of your rest days; eat good, have a good sleep, watch your favorite movies, etc.
I personally like to book a sports massage appointment during my rest days to help my muscles recover.
Recovering From Injuries
Even if you have tried your best to prevent injuries, they will get to you eventually.
Recovering from an injury can be a challenging and frustrating process, but there are steps that can be taken to speed up recovery and get back to training as soon as possible.
Consult with a sports doctor/physio
The first step in recovering from a BJJ injury is to consult with a sports doctor or physiotherapist.
They can provide an accurate diagnosis of the injury, recommend appropriate treatment, and help develop a rehabilitation plan.
Take a complete break from training
Taking a break from training is essential to allow the body to heal.
Continuing to train with an injury can lead to further damage and prolong the recovery process.
It is important to listen to the body and not push too hard too soon.
People who continue to train with injuries are not tough nor brave. They are stupid.
Use supplements to help with recovery
Pain reliever supplements can be used to help speed up the recovery process.
Here are some other supplements that can help:
It is important to note that supplements should only be used as a complement to your doctor's medication and should not be relied on as the sole means of recovery.
To wrap it up....
So, is BJJ a safe sport?
Overall, BJJ is relatively a safe sport for people of all ages and skill levels.
While there is always a risk of injury in any physical activity, BJJ has a lower incidence of serious injuries compared to other combat sports.
One of the reasons why BJJ is considered safe is because it is a non-striking martial art.
This means that there is less risk of head injuries or concussions compared to sports like boxing or kickboxing.
Additionally, BJJ is a sport that emphasizes control and technique over brute strength, which further reduces the risk of injury.
Another reason why BJJ is considered safe is because of the culture and community that surrounds the sport.
BJJ practitioners respect and care about their training partners, and there is a strong emphasis on safety and injury prevention in BJJ academies.
This means that students are taught proper technique and safety protocols from the very beginning, which helps to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
By training with care and following proper safety protocols, students can enjoy all the benefits of BJJ while minimizing the risk of injury.
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