This article originally appeared on Bjjstyle.com on 5/12/16
You may see, hear and read a lot about the positive benefits of Jiu-Jitsu. How it changes lives, makes people see life differently, chills people out, is a douchebag filter and much more, but it’s not without its nasty parts. It’s almost so overshadowed by the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle that people seem to forget that it’s still a full contact sport where the aim is to disable your opponent, by taking a limb from them or putting them to sleep. We’re going to have a look at some of the not so nice things you may come across during your time on the mats, and how to avoid some of the nasties of BJJ.
One of the main, most important bits of advice I can give you in my fairly limited BJJ Journey is tap often and tap early. There is no shame in someone catching you in a sub, no matter what level. Rolling is a simulation of competitions and while it’s good to maintain a level of competitiveness against your team-mates if they catch you in something, tap. Don’t let your pride get in the way, there is absolutely zero point in having a broken arm, torn rotator cuff or worse torn ACL just because you didn’t want to get tapped by someone who has fewer stripes than you. Tap Tap Tap. I nearly got choked unconscious with a standing guillotine in a No-Gi competition because I didn’t tap quick enough. What followed was a period of 10-20 seconds where everything was moving in slow motion as my brain was still recovering and when the ref tried to announce the winner I couldn’t stop swinging my arms backward and forwards. So when it came to announcing the winner, rather embarrassingly, my hand was also in the air while my opponents was, so it looked like I was so out of it that I thought I’d won. When in actual fact, I just couldn’t control my arms for a short amount of time. This is also a great way to avoid injuries, there’s kind of a happy medium when tapping, as you don’t want to tap too early, as you have to get used to what’s slightly painful but still escapable, and what’s so tight that you’re never getting out. There’s sometimes a split second between these two moments, like all things in life, timing is everything. Save your arms, save your legs, tap early and avoid injuries. Do not let your ego get in the way.
The counterpart to this, is also, don’t be that guy that nobody wants to roll with because you smash and wrench submissions on like you’re in the Finals at ADCC. When in actual fact you’re in your mates’ garage in Barnsley. Again, there’s always an element of explosiveness and competition when rolling, and some submissions require speed in order to catch them and put them on but don’t mistake this speed for strength. If you start locking in Arm Bars, Kimuras and swinging them on with all of your might, puffing and panting and sweating, you’re going to lose friends fast. Start trying it on higher belts and they might just put you to sleep quicker than you can say, Gracie. Don’t be that guy, nobody wants to roll with that guy.
Leg Locks, in particular, can cause some nasty injuries. With the rise of the Danaher Death Squad, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, and the No-Gi sub only movement, a lot of newer guys introduced to Jiu-Jitsu are starting to look at them as the answer for how to win a Jiu Jitsu match. Heel hooks, in particular, are the In-Vogue submission, mainly due to their brutality. By rotating the heel at the bottom of the leg, you, in turn, twist the knee popping all kinds of ligaments out of place, snapping others and usually ending in your opponent on crutches for a few months, and that’s if you didn’t twist too hard. Now, you don’t have too much to worry about these if you’re a white belt and training in the Gi, as they are illegal. However, if you’re training in No-Gi and someone’s shown you them, as with all leg locks, be very, very careful when applying them. A simple twist and turn in a certain direction can put somebody out of the gym for a good few months. Also, avoid the guy in your gym who has matching rash guards and spats on that look like a rainbow has thrown up all over them.
One of the most common Jiu Jitsu nasties is a skin disorder affectionately named Ringworm. Sounds nasty, doesn’t it. Well, in reality, it’s not that bad, a little itchy, but it’s main sin, is how contagious it is. Ringworm isn’t actually a worm, despite the title. It’s a fungal infection that irritates the skin. Very similar to athletes foot or ‘Jock Itch’. It is recognizable by its form, it raises up in an almost perfect circle, but has little raising inside the circle. Caught early, it can be gone within a couple of weeks using over the counter sprays. The key thing is to keep spraying it after it appears to be gone. Also, to clean everything that can and has come into contact with it, bedsheets, t-shirts, your gym gear, gym bag, the lot. If it is left untreated it can affect your whole body, including your face and hair, which is a slightly different strain of nastiness once it reaches there, and at this point, you’ll have to see a doctor and get some antibiotics. The main thing with ringworm is that it thrives in warm, damp, sweaty areas. Like gym mats and rash guards. It’s very easily transferrable from person to person. If you get it, it sucks, but it sucks worse if you pass it around your gym. You need to take some time off to kill it, and also, let your instructor know so he can make everybody aware. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things that happen sometimes, but prevention is the best form of any cure. Washing your body before and as soon as you can after training, keeping all your training gear in a separate bag and washing it immediately are among the no-brainers that will help keep it at bay. There are also several anti-fungal soaps on the market which claim to help keep the ringer at bay, for the more germ obsessed of you out there.
Hope this helps some of you out, and makes your White Belt Journey a little less bumpy.
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