You’re rolling. It’s pretty controlled and whatever. You’re going to resist if there’s a sub attempt, but when it’s locked in you tap. You find yourself defending a straight ankle lock by posturing up and he’s switching to the heel hook. You’re still safe with your foot on the ground so you keep the pressure. He sweeps you and immediately cranks on the heel. Before your hand can reach his leg to tap there’s a loud popping noise. He keeps going past the pop until you successfully tap. You look at him and just say “never crank on those.”

The next day you’re in your doctor’s office. An avulsion fracture seems ruled out by the xrays, but based on where the pain is there’s definitely some kind of injury on the ligament. You’ll follow up in four weeks if it’s not progressively improving. You should do some rehab after it heals – draw the alphabet with your foot, use the band you have from last time. You don’t need crutches or a brace, but only because you already have them at home. You can’t walk without external support.

That was my last night and this morning.

If you’re following along at home you know this is the second time in less than a year someone has decided to not just sink in the heel hook, but finish it. Last time my doctor really wanted me to consider quitting jiu-jitsu if these kinds of injuries were a common occurrence. I dismissed it back then. Most of my injuries came from competition and at some point I just stopped competing. Now it’s looking like quitting BJJ is a reality I might have to face. If I’m getting serious injuries in regular practice I really need to consider if I can continue with jiu-jitsu.

I have at least the next six weeks to think about it.

EDIT: After I posted this I realized there’s an important distinction I want to make. This doesn’t reflect on my opinion of FightPrime. Both incidents of injury were with guys I do not normally see and do not normally roll with. FightPrime has been great about addressing these incidences when they arise. This isn’t about FightPrime not being safe – it is. In my time there I have one ever seen two individuals get hurt, and one was me. Matt and Thales do a great job trying to prevent injuries and following up when they happen.

What this is about is me getting too old to continue to risk injuries. It’s not okay to be a 25-year-old with arthritic changes in most of your joints. It’s not okay to have debilitating phantom pains that shoot up your hand and forearm. It’s not okay to have to miss work to have an ankle or finger or wrist looked at because stuff got a little cray-cray with someone who isn’t one of my regular half-dozen training partners who after years of rolling with I know I can trust completely.

It’s also about me not wanting to be the guy who only rolls with the same 5 or 6 people because I can’t trust others. Trusting people with delicate parts of your anatomy is part of jiu-jitsu. When you feel like you can’t trust people with your anatomy, can you really still do jiu-jitsu?


4 thoughts on “Pop

  1. Sorry to hear about your leg man. I’d hate to see a fellow mat rat quit training something they are so passionate about. You might consider training gi only (in which heel hooks are illegal) if those are a problem for you. Or just straight up tell your partner “no heel hooks” (if you don’t mind being that guy), because in the long run its what’s going to keep you on the mats. I would also like to extend the invitation to come to one of the Chosen Few open mats (first sunday of every month). I consider myself one of the only leg lock specialists in the state and have some pretty bulletproof defenses for leglocks I’d be happy to share with you. I run it and am always there, and its totally free 😀

  2. Ugh! I think about training but at 47 I have zero interest to roll with idiots, and your post confirms my thoughts a bit

    • Most training injuries will be honest accidents not caused by negligence, but sheer unfortunate incidence. At the end of the day, I can still roll with any of the guys in my judo class and know that they’re going to be responsible partners. It’s unfortunate that it happens.

      Honest tips if you’re looking to start and injuries are a concern:
      1. Go with gi classes instead of nogi. I love nogi, but seriously, people are just way more apt to go hard in nogi and that raises the injury risk, especially if everyone’s not on the same page.
      2. Talk to your partners about going light.
      3. In general, a white belt is more dangerous than a black belt. Most guys don’t get to dark belt colors without taking good care of their training partners. A lot of them have been injured and know it sucks and don’t want to see it happen to anyone else. Try to go with darker belts (and relax because spazzing is like a guaranteed injury for someone involved).

  3. Pingback: No Jacket | Grappling In Wisconsin

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