Friday night, an hour into class and a few rolls into sparring, I catch a knee to the ribs. It was enough to knock the wind out of me so I stopped right there but, given a few seconds to recover, I decided to jump back in and everything was ok. Next morning, I thought it was a little tender but nothing to worry about.
So I show up at Wednesday’s class and chose a partner to run through some drills. This guy was heavy. Not the fat round type, this is a guy who plays the pressure game and, through superb technique, can have you shrimping or hip bumping but going nowhere until you either tap out or pass out. Side control was the starting position for the drill and as soon as weight was placed upon my chest I heard, and felt, a “crumph” from inside my chest cavity. It was painful but I only had an hour class and I had driven all the way and I pay my fees, blah blah, so I was going to continue. Bad idea. I got home and with ice, heat and Ibuprofen I still struggled to move. Breathing was laboured and I didn’t have full movement on that side of my upper body. Sneezing felt like an axe to the ribs.
There are some tips to avoid common injuries. Properly warming up is essential. Run through rolls, hip escapes, backwards rollovers and so on and, even when the sparring starts, ease into it slowly. There is a lot to be said for building stamina and conditioning. Resistance training and yoga are great ways to ensure you have a stronger more flexible body. As four times Jiu-Jitsu world champion Bernardo Faria said, “It’s better to train for 12 months at 90% effort than 3 months at 100 or 110%!”.
I have no idea what happened to me. Maybe it was a fracture or maybe some intercostal muscles or ligaments were torn. Either way, I’m out of BJJ for few days or maybe weeks. I’m not a young man and it will take me longer than the younger dudes at the club to recover. So the lesson here is not to train when you are injured. What seems like a small thing will become a big thing the more you ignore it. Rest up and look forward, patiently, to your next class.