So there we were, all the beginners rolling away. Only a few of us knowing a little bit about what we should be doing. We were starting from side control with a ‘winner stays on’ turn-around of bodies. I had held my place on the mat and I was into about my third roll. Started as you would expect. I was pinned to the floor under side control like a wardrobe had landed on me. I kept still for a bit. Arms tucked in, hoping that my opponent would get tired and possibly bored and would attempt a move for a submission. I waited and waited and eventually, I felt the pressure lift and there was my opportunity. I kicked and flailed and attempted to get into a triangle. Just as I was about to pull my opponent down and back towards me, he shouted. An expletive, of course. Obviously, in a great amount of pain. We stopped and I asked was he okay. “I just felt something pop in my chest.”, he said and he staggered off the mat.
“Oh, sorry man” – well, what else do you say?
Turns out I’m familiar with this injury. It happened to me last year sparring in a cage, as you do. I didn’t go to my GP, which I probably should have but instead, I went to the best doctor you can find, Google. The closest diagnosis I could find was a condition known as costochondritis.
Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum (also known as your breastbone or chest bone). Inflammation doesn’t sound too bad but I was struggling with deep breathing. Sneezing, coughing or laughing forced a grimace on my face and I’d clutch my chest until the pain subsided. It took at least 4 weeks to even get close to training again and when I did, I was so nervous about it popping that it took me a while to rebuild my confidence.
I feel sorry for the guy. But BJJ is not far short of a full contact Martial Art and with all the best intentions, training and limited submissions for beginners, there will be injuries.