Unsure about learning grappling

Ronin74

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I've always wanted to learn grappling and submissions, even if it was just relegated to the basics of high school wrestling and BJJ. However, I've had quite a few shoulder operations, and my shoulders aren't quite as sturdy or flexible as they used to be.

Would it be advisable for me to stay away from grappling and submissions all together, or is it possible to become proficient enough- despite my setbacks- to possibly even compete?
 

jarrod

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try it & see.

for the most part, grappling tends to be harder on the knees than the shoulders. most of my shoulder aggrevation has come from striking. always let your partner know of any surgeries/injuries & just ask them to take it easy on the affected area. & don't be afraid to tap, & tap early.

i had a new student who was shaking visibly while we were training. i asked if he was okay & he said "oh i always do this. i broke my back several years ago while working on an oil rig. i wasn't supposed to walk again." that's the kind of stuff you should let the instructor & fellow students know.

just go try it, & let them know you're concerned about your shoulders. try to stay away from any bruisers that might be in the class.

jf
 
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Ronin74

Ronin74

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just go try it, & let them know you're concerned about your shoulders. try to stay away from any bruisers that might be in the class.

jf
I'll give it a shot. Admittedly, it's those bruisers that really worrry me. One pop, and I'm out for months.
 

Steve

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Honestly, if your shoulders are fragile, you're taking a risk with any kind of contact sport/activity. Grappling is no more or less dangerous, although you should be more careful with shoulder cranks like Keylocks and such.

As you've already said, your biggest danger are bonehead training partners. We have a blue belt who has a gimpy shoulder. For the most part, he's careful who he rolls with and is mindful of what he's doing and hasn't had any problems.

Good luck.
 
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Ronin74

Ronin74

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I'll probably watch a class first, and depending on the intensity, I might opt for doing private lessons if it looks like there's a few too many "boneheads".

I know it's definitely a risk, but it's also an aspect of martial arts that won't go away if I ignore it... lol.
 

LuckyKBoxer

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I think I would still recommend trying it, but I recommend you talk to a few instructors in your area if you have that many and discuss your limitations at the moment. Make sure you tell training partners every single time you pair up that you have shoulder problems, so they have it in their head and don't accidently pop it. I might also recommend talking to a physical therapist in the meantime and see if there are any strngthening exercises you can do for the surrounding muscles to stabilize it more.
We have some people who train at our school with a range of physical issues, including shoulder issues, old age frailities, neck issues, etc. They obviously do not practice, or freeroll at a pace equal to those of fully healthy people, but they have been able to find a pace, and partners to train with that they feel comfortable with, and seem to be picking up either valuable skills, good training, friends, fun, or a combination of all.
I would say do not let your handicaps ever hold you back from doing something you want, just approach it smartly.
 

teekin

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Ronin, BJJ is about control, not control over you but control over oneself. Some of the biggest guys have the best control, they can move both themselves and you in such a way that you will learn the technique safely with minimum danger to your shoulder.
An example I can give you is this; I am an epileptic, I got "lost" during turn in throws in Judo and landed oh so very very wrong, twice. ( Because I wasn't really all there I didn't understand what was going on so I kept getting up saying I was "fine") The next day I was very spooked about being thrown again. I asked Jason, my Shadan to help me. Jason, a very big guy with fantastic control, was able to control the throw to such an extent that the moment I would stiffen he would freeze us, stop the throw and talk me into relaxing, resume the throw and set me down. He would NOT let me land wrong. Over and over we did this until I was laughing and he was trying to throw me down. I know that had I started to tense or fall wrong his control would keep me safe.
lori
 
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Ronin74

Ronin74

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Thanks guys. I'll definitely voice my concerns to the instructor, and whoever else I get partnered up with. I do have a series of PT exercises to help strengthen them, and I do try to get in a little swimming when time permits, just for the sake of strengthening the joints, but I guess I'm just extremely worried about getting sidelined from training again.
 

lklawson

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You don't even need a boneheaded training partner, all you need is bad luck. I half separated my shoulder a few years back randori-ing with a young buck. He did a pick-up/scoop throw and things just went wonky and he ended up falling on top of me as I landed on my shoulder.

I was out for a month or so and it took over a year to recover enough that I felt confident of my shoulder. To this day, I still have less flexibility in that shoulder.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

jarrod

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oh yeah, injuries happen, but i think that's true of any art. i was rolling with a guy 30lbs lighter than me once, all i did was sit up & turn (he was in my guard, i was going for a sweep i've done thousands of times) & i heard a loud pop followed by agonizing pain. the cartilage in my ribs tore. injuries suck.

jf
 

Gordon Nore

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Honestly, if your shoulders are fragile, you're taking a risk with any kind of contact sport/activity. Grappling is no more or less dangerous, although you should be more careful with shoulder cranks like Keylocks and such.

As you've already said, your biggest danger are bonehead training partners. We have a blue belt who has a gimpy shoulder. For the most part, he's careful who he rolls with and is mindful of what he's doing and hasn't had any problems.

Good luck.

Beginning grapplers also try to use more strength than necessary. I'm a terrible grappler, and as soon as someone is on top of me, I'm trying to push them off with shear strength, which is a rookie mistake. I can see where one could re-injure a shoulder through simple exertion.
 
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Ronin74

Ronin74

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I was having this same conversation with a customer at work the other day. He told me that he even knew fighters who avoided BJJ altogether, just because their joints have been injured before.

While I don't have any goals to be a serious competitor, I do consider grappling a very integral part of being a well-rounded martial artist. That said, I think it would benefit me to understand grappling and submissions so I'd at least have some understanding in dealing with them. Ignoring it definitely won't help.
 

Steve

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The secrets to staying safe are simple.

  • Protecting yourself at all times.
  • Work within your limits.
  • Learn technical position/transition skills, defense and survival skills BEFORE focusing on submissions.
  • Until you know your limits, err on the side of tapping early.
  • Have fun and understand that you could be injured doing anything. All you're doing is minimizing the possibility.
Regarding joint health, in my experience (non-medical), the best thing for joints is superdosing fish oil daily. My doctor recommended I get between 6 and 8 grams of fish oil daily.
 

paco99

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I would think that it would all depend on the severity of the injury. With some physical therapy, is it possible to get your shoulder back to normal?

I would ask your doctor or a physical therapist before trying it out.

When you're in class, you never know who you will be matched up against, and if you forget to tell each person to take it easy, or if they ignore your request, then you can end up hurting yourself more.


Paco



I've always wanted to learn grappling and submissions, even if it was just relegated to the basics of high school wrestling and BJJ. However, I've had quite a few shoulder operations, and my shoulders aren't quite as sturdy or flexible as they used to be.

Would it be advisable for me to stay away from grappling and submissions all together, or is it possible to become proficient enough- despite my setbacks- to possibly even compete?
 

lklawson

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I would think that it would all depend on the severity of the injury. With some physical therapy, is it possible to get your shoulder back to normal?
Yes it is. The problem is that after about mid-20s, injuries take longer and longer to heal and require ever greater amounts of careful and thoughtful rehab.

It's been a long time since I saw 25. It's important to minimize injuries.

To take this on a slight tangent, it seems that when we are young, we just assume that all injuries will heal and there will be no long term consequences of "hard training." At ISMAC this last weekend, one of the young bucks there was bragging about the injuries and deformities to his hands he had received in FMA training. Bones broken multiple times, split lengthwise, fingers jutting off at odd directions, one which had pins in it... I told him that I thought he was foolish and that he was fairly guaranteed to have debilitating arthritis in his hands if he lived long enough.

That's OK if you're in a Warrior Cast and don't generally expect to live past your 30's at most and if you did you'd get to be a Pak and have a hareem of women and a passel of students doing for you (such as wiping your butt because you literally can't). But for modern culture this was very foolish training. We have modern methods of protecting the hand from this sort of long term debilitating injuries and, with care and forethought, can avoid many, perhaps most, if not all, of them.

Yes, it's funny when everyone in your FMA class can tell who the new guy is because when he's hit in the hand he yelps and drops the stick, as this young man related to us. Then you all get to laugh at him. He may be the one laughing at you later as you remove all the doorknobs in your house and replace them with lever-type "knobs." My grandfather had CRIPPLING arthritis in his hands and other joints and this is what we had to do for him. To him it was humiliating and emasculating to not be able to open a freaking door.

I told this young man that it is foolish to allow his friends and training partners to deliberately injure him far more and far more often than any bad guy he is likely to have to defend himself against with his sticks in the statistically low chance that such a scenario ever happens.

He and I parted friends but I don't think he grokked. He still thinks he has machismo "Bragging Rights."

The same concept applies to grappling and any other martial pursuit. The one core concept which remains consistent across the range of martial arts regardless of culture of origin is that martial arts are about hurting the other guy and breaking his toys. Not the reverse.

So, yes, injuries WILL happen. Black eyes, split lips, bruises, occasional sprains, strains, pulls, etc. Rarely broken bones, but yes, sometimes accidents do happen. But major or debilitating injuries should be a rare occurrence.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating not training nor am I advocating pantie-waist pillow fighting or non-contact tag. Yes you need to go against fully resisting training partners in order to know your stuff works and to adequately functionalize it. But, for crying out loud, we can do that stuff a lot safer now than we used to (the fact that Judo and BJJ lend themselves more easily to safer yet fully resistant training is one of the things I like about them). Let's do so. PLEASE.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

K831

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I have dislocated both shoulders. Motocross injury, climbing injury and a grappling related injury.

BJJ/wrestling has consistently been the hardest thing on my shoulders. You are defiantly taking a risk with your shoulders and I would suggest you grapple only if learning it is worth trading the off time for recovery.

That said, the comments here about being very open with the instructor and training partners are key. You may have to shop around to find a school that will fit your needs, but it is worth it. Some schools roll with a lot of flow, others want to crank something on and sink it as fast as they can.

The first time I was out rolling after an injury I hurt it again. Next time around I took nearly a year before I rolled again. I finished my PT and put 6 months into training on my own. Lifting, plyometrics, etc. When I could train Kenpo, boxing and race my bike without issues, that is when I started rolling again.

Even still, there are a couple of submissions I even feel my partner begin to set up and I just tap lol... its not worth it.

NOTE: If you are going to do it, make sure that shoulder is strong and flexible FIRST. Get the absolute best range of motion out of it that you can. When I say strong, I don't just mean heavy bench, cleans etc I mean work those rotator cuff muscles and other stabilizers. Work them at all angles and all planes of movement. Do some yoga and dynamic stretching.
 

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