Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Safe? Protect Yourself With These Tips
One of the fastest-growing sports in the world is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Competitions are popping up everywhere now, kids are getting into it, and the best challengers can even get sponsored.
Because of this many parents and people interested in BJJ may wonder in Jiu Jitsu is safe. Even with all this upside, though, is there a dangerous aspect to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu safe? Compared to other high impact martial arts styles, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is typically much safer. There is no striking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so there is a much smaller chance for serious injuries like head trauma, broken noses, and more. This makes the injury rate lower than mixed martial arts, boxing, judo, and more.
Even though Jiu Jitsu is much safer than many other forms of martial arts doesn’t mean that people don’t get injured.
In this post, we’ll teach you many different ways to protect yourself while learning and engaging in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
This will hopefully help you make a decision to begin or continue down the BJJ journey.
What Makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Different?
If you’ve never sat back and watched any kind of fighting or wrestling, you would think it’s all the same.
Most people don’t know that every style of fighting has different rules and regulations that go into it and affects everything from the training, the competitions, and even the way a certain fighter thinks.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu focuses on grappling and ground fighting instead of punching or kicking opponents.
You focus more on controlling your opponent and their actions instead of punishing them until they give up.
This is why BJJ is known as the gentle art because it allows smaller and weaker fighters to face challengers and defend themselves better than any other style.
People enjoy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because of the fact that you can be any age, size, or shape, and you can engage in hand to hand combat without dealing blows to each other or dealing with head trauma.
Jiu Jitsu is safe enough that children as young as four years can start learning how to defend themselves with this martial art.
When it comes to any form of martial arts but especially BJJ, it’s all about your mindset going onto the mat. If you’re looking to let out aggression, hurt people, and not follow your training, you’re more likely to get hurt and hurt others.
If you do what you’re supposed to and listen to your teachers, the likelihood of injury falls way down for yourself and others around you.
Now let’s get into some practical tips that can help you and your loved ones prevent injuries and practice safe Jiu Jitsu.
No matter what kind of sport or physical activity you’re doing, you should never jump into it without warming up first. Never roll on the mat without breaking a little sweat first.
If you’re doing any organized class or one-on-one teaching, then your instructor should run you through some kind of stretching and calisthenics to get the blood pumping through your body.
When you’re doing effortless things like at work or school or driving in a car on the way to the gym, your body starts to get into a routine where you don’t need as much oxygenated blood to perform these tasks because they’re so normal to you.
Also, always make sure to take the warm-ups your instructor gives you seriously. Just because you look like your stretching doesn’t mean you are.
Lots of times, people think stretching is just going through the motions when it really should involve you pushing your body to its peak of flexibility to warm your muscles up.
One of the fastest ways to injury is getting on the mat while your body is completely cold.
This keeps your muscles tight, which makes things like pulled hamstrings and calves much more likely in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Here’s a great video with a ton of solo drills you can do alone to warm up.
Control Your Movements
When newcomers come into BJJ, and they don’t know much about technique yet, they usually try to compensate by just using their strength and flying around the mat.
This is a good way to get yourself or your training partner injured.
Just like in bodybuilding, the technique is more important than strength when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
When lifting weights, you’d rather do ten good repetitions of a curl than three bad reps with higher weight.
If you don’t control your movements, a couple of things could happen.
You won’t learn anything because you won’t focus on the techniques that you should be learning from your instructor.
You’ll disregard the fundamentals and just jump around, which doesn’t help your learning process at all.
You’ll also be known for being crazy on the mat and you’re not going to get many training partners that way.
Nobody wants to train with the guy who doesn’t perform the right steps the right way.
They understand that it’s not helping anyone because they’ll never see those moves in competition, and they’re more likely to get hurt because of it.
Instead of relying on strength when you’re in a tough situation or stuck on the ground, learn the proper technical way to get out of it and move forward from there.
Your instructor will teach you many different ways to handle situations during a fight. All you have to do is take the instructions and implement them. This way you’ll be more controlled and much safer to train Jiu Jitsu with.
Train Your Hips
Probably the most used part of your body when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (besides your brain) is your hips.
Upper-body actions use your hips as a hinge, and lower-body actions move based on your hips range of motion.
Many lower-body injuries stem from tightness in your hips.
If your groin, knees, or ankles are giving you problems, not only should you focus on rehabilitating those areas, you should also focus on your hip’s flexibility.
Most people don’t think of the hip as a flexible muscle, but when you’re wrapping your legs around your opponent, the flexibility of your hip determines a lot.
The less your hip is flexible, the more you have to rely on your ankles and knees to get the work done.
The best BJJ guys can move their feet to lock whoever they want, and this is all because their hips are so flexible.
This not only helps with your movement but allows for fewer muscle strains in areas like your quads and hamstrings along with your hip flexors, abductors, and adductors.
There are hip mobility exercises that you can do as warm-ups along with machines at the gym to help with flexibility and strength.
Add these into your daily warm-ups and weekly programs to help release tightness from your hips.
Choose Who You Practice With Wisely
Remember earlier when we talked about the guy who doesn’t move with control and how his training partners don’t want to train with him.
There will come a time where you are starting to understand some techniques and knowledge in BJJ, and you’ll be able to spot these guys.
You obviously don’t want to roll with this guy because the more sporadic and unpredictable he is, the more likely you can get injured.
There will also be other people at your gym that are known for taking things too far and hurting their training partners. It’s basically common sense that you wouldn’t want to train with them either.
Especially when you’re a beginner and don’t know many defenses and escapes, you don’t want to be rolling with these types.
Some people think that they must win every spar and just use all their strength and power no matter who they’re up against.
Don’t be afraid to say no if someone like this comes up to you and ask you to roll with them.
You’re better off learning from afar than being injured on the mat.
Tap Out Early
Most experienced BJJ fighters will tell you, most of the injuries that do happen on the mat is because they thought they could muscle through it instead of tapping out.
Sometimes your pride might get the best of you, and you know you’re right on the edge of getting hurt but you don’t want to be a quitter.
You can’t think this way.
Tapping isn’t quitting. Tapping is understanding you made a mistake that put you in that situation and fixing it the next time you roll.
If you don’t tap, there is a minimal chance that you somehow get out of the tight submission, but you’ll most likely get injured and miss time on the mat.
When it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you can be safe and you don’t have to get hurt to train and learn new techniques.
In other styles of fighting like boxing, any learning above just sparring involves someone taking some hits to learn a lesson.
Tapping out exists so you can have that next opportunity without hurting yourself on the current one.
Learn to not feel shame in tapping out. Most newbies think of tapping out like quitting and that’s a mindset that needs to be lost right at day one.
Check out this article for more tips on getting the most out of you’re sparring.
When you overtrain your muscles, your muscles start having less mobility and range of motion without you even realizing it.
This can prevent your body from staying in safe positions that help you avoid injuries.
In almost all sports, and especially weightlifting, people overwork their muscles, and it actually prevents them from progressing.
When your muscles get tired and sore, you’re more susceptible to injuries and you also are not able to do 100 percent of the techniques that you would be able to do on other days when you’re rested.
When it comes to training days, know your limits, and try not to do too much especially when you went too hard on the last training session and your muscles haven’t recuperated yet.
Visit Physicians or Athletic Trainer Regularly
Many times you can have a small pain or injury that can be treated early if you take the time to discover it.
You’re going to get muscle soreness and slight pain doing any sport, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Visiting a physician regularly will help you in learning how to take a small soreness or injury and not let it escalate to a big one.
Sometimes a massage or some medicine can remove the issue. Sometimes the doctor will tell you to stay off of it for a little, and it could save lots of time compared to if you injured yourself badly.
Your physician could send you to an athletic trainer if you show signs that you need more help with preventing injuries or strengthening certain muscles to help with BJJ.
They offer have the best insight for things like choosing treatments and recovery methods, especially when it comes to sports-related injuries.
Don’t Have An Ego
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the best ways to sharpen your mind and build character on and off the mat.
Your instructors teach you to respect everyone around you and, most importantly to respect yourself.
Each gym will have rules which are mostly implemented to help keep everyone safe.
They expect everyone in there to respect those rules, but there will always be people that come into the gym and think that they’re above everyone else.
Not only can having an ego and not following directions be annoying and insulting to everyone around you, but it can also be a way to get injured.
Fighters who think they’re better than everyone else don’t take warming up seriously or don’t practice techniques correctly.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a history that goes deeper than anyone else in the gym, and it’s just the matter of understanding that you’re there to progress and learn to defend yourself and not to strut your stuff and poke out your chest.
When Injured, Rest, Don’t Train
Rolling when you have injuries that can get worse is a bad idea. You might get something like a sprain or pull in one of your muscles and if you try to train through that, it can escalate to something like a tear pretty easily.
Listen when you go to the physician, as we recommended earlier. Doctors know what they’re talking about and are trying to help you prevent being hurt more.
Now, even if your doctor recommends you don’t train BJJ for a while, that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be active at all.
Ask your doctor what kind of workouts or physical activity you could do.
If you hurt your shoulder or arm, they might tell you that you’re able to run on a treadmill or hop on a bike.
There could be other opportunities where you can do something like swimming or maybe even light lifting and just staying away from the injury.
The point is that you can have an injury that can take you out for a couple of months.
Don’t just spend all that time being lazy and losing all your hard work you’ve done over the years in a small time frame.
You can also still analyze and learn techniques and moves that can help you when you get back. This takes no activity at all and is recommended at all times, even when you’re not injured.
Most Common Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, some injuries are more common than others.
BJJ consists of grappling and controlling your opponent instead of punching and kicking, so certain parts of your body get used more than others.
When it comes to these spots, though, your instructor is going to teach you the best ways to deal with these injuries, along with putting you in position to not have them in the first place.
This can help you learn how to stay safe training Jiu Jitsu.
Here are some of the most common injuries
Whether it’s jammed or broken fingers, everything that you do on your mat is a liability to your fingers getting hurt in some way.
This is part of the fighting style, though, and in most cases, your fingers are less likely to get hurt in BJJ over any other style.
There could be some cases where you’re going to be grappling with someone, and your back can get twisted in a way that it’s not supposed to.
It’s important to have some way to seek medical help when you feel back pain. This could lead to more of a strain on your back and turn into long-term injuries if not handled right away.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known for their leg locks, but if they’re not performed correctly and with the right technique, it could cause some harm on your knees.
When a knee gets hit into the mat, that’s fixable with some ice. But any more serious pain will need to be examined by a doctor to make sure the ligaments are okay.
Shoulders can have some common injuries caused by things like arm attacks, twists from rolling, and active posting.
Your instructor will teach you to keep your elbows closed to your sides to help alleviate a lot of the stress that can be put on your shoulders and hopefully prevent any bad injury.
Probably one of the trademarks of martial arts, in general, is something known as “cauliflower ears”.
This happens when you grapple with training partners and your ears cartilage bends in certain directions causing them to swell up.
The effect of your ears looking like cauliflower is your body’s way of trying to heal them.
Icing your ears can be recommended and physicians can offer some medicine to help with inflammation as well.
Check out our article “These Are The Most Common Injuries In BJJ”, if you’re interested in more on this topic.
Wrapping it up
That’s a lot of information on how to stay safe in Jiu Jitsu, we hope you enjoyed reading this post.
Remember that many things being safe in Jiu Jitsu is up to how you train and who you roll with.
Be careful on the mats and have fun training!
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