Clavicle debacle

Posted: June 5, 2015 in bjj, brazilian jiujitsu, training
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So after coming back from a lack lustre performance at the Irish Open BJJ Champions,due to a strained groin, I am once again on the shelf with another injury in the form of a fractured clavicle.

This occured during while trying  to apply a kimura counter to a half guard sweep but my timing was off.

My partner managed to get too deep an underhook and I started to defend the sweep. I posted out as he came up and started to stand and drive into me and my elbow collapsed and all my weight and my now advancing opponents weight came crashing through the point of my shoulder. This ended in an audible crack similar to the sound of breaking timber.  

 Fast forward I’m sitting in the emergency room wearing a rash guard with my arm in a rudimentary sling fashioned from a white belt, which did impress the duty nurse to some extent. X-ray confirmed the clavicle was fractured in a butterfly fashion, which means the bone fragments don’t  line up exactly but will heal with a visible lump. 
I spoke to a consultant and am in a sling for 5 weeks. 

He also informed me that the clavicle wasn’t that important a bone as it is a carryover from our quadrupedal times. Well I informed him I needed the structural integrity of the bone to assist in framing out against a resisting opponent who is determined to choke or apply a lock to one of my limbs! I also informed him that I like to lift heavy things up and put them down. 

So in addition to the five weeks with the arm in a sling there will also be 6-8 weeks of mobility and strength work to get the shoulder back to mat fitness. 

All I can do now is sit it out and spend my time working on a game on paper and then trying to implement it when I get back on the mat.


Rodrigo Medieros, co founder of BJJ Revolution Team and 4th Degree black belt under Carlson Gracie, visited the Limerick BJJ Academy for the first time in about five years. In previous years we had to travel to seminars and not all from the academy would be able to make the trip with work/home commitments, so it was quite a big deal to have the facility to host the boss.
We had a decent showing of students with a mix of white, blue, purple brown belts and our own black belt in attendance.

As Rodrigo is a Carlson Gracie black belt, we know that he will focus on the basics and expand from there. He spoke at length about the importance of basics and drills that would create muscle memory. With the evolution of the sport, speed and pressure are the keys to success in competition and with that in mind he told us long term we need to create our own drills that we could incorporate into our own game.
So we warmed up with guard passing drills, armbar switches, side control retention drills,open guard drills with inversions and leg drag drills before we moved onto some technique work.
So we started with a closed guard smash pass and added a couple of variations depending on the reaction of the opponent which included ending in a leg drag position. We continued with leg drag passing, applying it to open guard, spider guard, lasso guard and De La Riva guard that finished by applying a nasty little choke.
We finished up on attacking the turtle position with clock choke variations and an armbar set up that opens up other attacks. All in all a great seminar that everyone took something from regardless of rank.



Gallery  —  Posted: May 3, 2014 in bjj, brazilian jiujitsu, concepts, training

Knackered Knees, No More!

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Following up on my post yesterday, Dave digs a little and offers up a nice strength and mobility article for the knee.

Wild Geese Fitness Training

knee Knees.

Lets take a show of hands. All those who’ve NEVER experienced knee pain or injury put your hand up.

Those who’ve had PAIN in their knees put your hands up.

Yeah, as I thought, a few more that time.

It’s a joint that get hammered by just about everything we do.

Yet, with a bit of smart thinking and common sense we can keep it strong, health and functioning long into our twilight years.

What we can’t protect against are the bangs and impacts we take as part of our sports and martial arts practice.
But as the knee is the number 1 non contact injury reported, it seems the heavy impacts are the least of our worries!

All through last year I had the pleasure of working with Seb, a big Polish BJJ player who wrapped his leg around a lamppost when he crashed his motorcycle. So I’ve…

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If you have spent any time training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you will definitely be aware that knees are by far the body part most vulnerable to injury. From guard passing to guard recovery, sweeps, throws, scrambles and reversals. All the time the hips and knees constantly moving applying pressure from top position or from the bottom depending on the players styles. Players from the bottom trying to take the base away from the top player by pushing and pulling to shift their centre of gravity. The top player trying to control and pass by clearing the legs and arms of the bottom player.

All these changes of direction puts a certain stress on the joints and most times an injury will occur during a transition when one player commits to a pass/sweep and the other attempts to resist it. If the technique is good and the weight distribution is correct there will be no problems, but if there is a slight change in foot position, weight distribution, body angle, a sudden awkward movement by either player or an incorrect application of a technique, an injury is possible.
Below is Conor McGregor smash passing half guard with a knee slide and you can see the potential of a knee twist if his foot gets clamped as he pushes through by leading with the hips. Of course Conor is a high level mma practitioner with a purple belt in BJJ so has drilled this pass a great many times.

Most knee injuries sustained during rolling is due to flexibility or more the lack of flexibility in the hip capsule. So it is often found that knee injuries are more common among the lower level belts or with players that are not training regularly.


Typical knee injury associated with BJJ?
Sprains and tears to the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments and tears and sprains to the medial and lateral collateral ligaments.
Twisting pressure will aggravate the cruciate ligaments where a force from the side of the leg will put pressure on the collateral ligaments. It is also common for a combination of ligaments to be affected.
There are levels of sprain from level 1 which is a sprain but no tears,level 2 is a sprain with some strand tears to level 3 which is a complete tear that would most likely need surgery. Recovery times vary but generally a level 2 sprain is about 6 weeks off the mat. Surgery on level 3 could be up to 6 months or more with rehab.

So you heard something pop in your knee?
Immediate pain is definitely a ligament,either tearing or stretching and dislocating across the meniscus. It may relocate itself immediately causing a second pop. Rest, ice, compress and elevate and have some anti inflammatories at hand.(this is my normal ritual after almost every training session)
If the area is bruising and swelling and unable to hold weight, then it is torn and may require surgery to repair. Follow the RICE protocol and seek medical assistance.
If the knee locks up without swelling or bruising it is most likely cartilage damage and as there is limited blood flow to the meniscus surgery may be required to repair.

So the steps necessary to help prevent an injury?
1. Train regularly. Drill techniques so they become muscle memory.
2. Warm up sufficiently using dynamic warm ups through full range of motion. Listen to your body and work on anything tight.
3. Work on mobility, particularly the hips, if you don’t use it you lose it.
Here’s a link to a good yoga based sequence from fellow martial artist and general movement guru Dave Hedges hip opening drill
4. Build up strength around the knee with resistance training and agility drills. Go with a combo of squats swings and agility ladder footwork. Throw in some plyometric work with some bag/box jumps and add in some multidirectional lunges and old fashioned skipping rope intervals to mix things up.
5. Roll smart, especially if you haven’t trained in a while. You might not be as flexible or as sharp as you were so you may not be able to hit some of your fancy go to moves. Stay relaxed while rolling, accept a position if you feel resisting it may cause or aggravate an injury. Rolling is supposed to be fun and a chance to hone technique, this is not the ADCC finals. Don’t try pull off a technique when rolling that you have not drilled live. You may put yourself or your training partner at risk.

Gallery  —  Posted: April 26, 2014 in bjj, brazilian jiujitsu, training

More and more people are starting to take fitness serious in their 30’s and 40’s after maybe not training seriously since their teens/early 20’s. You know, back before mortgages and long hours in the office

I’ve put together 10 quick points that should help someone starting a journey back into fitness

  1. Learn to move and move well. Master the basic movements with your own bodyweight, squat,deadlift, pushup and pullup/bodyweight row. Work on control of movement. If you cannot move well without load, you won’t move well under load.
  2. Find an instructor/coach before you start throwing weights around. They will teach you correct form and assess your ability to perform set movements. They will also assist in goal setting and help put a plan in place to achieve your goal. 
  3. Train Barefoot or at least in flat soled trainers. This ensures good ankle stability under load and gives a stable foundation for lifting. Do not wear running shoes, these are designed for running(clue in the name). 
  4. No Running Especially if you are overweight, you are not strong enough. The stress on the ankle knees and hips will cause pain, kettlebell swings are much more suitable. Same muscle groups are targeted without the impact of running. I’m not dismissing all running but you need to get strong first.
  5. Have patience. Your body might have been fallen out of condition through years of sedentary living. 6/12/18 weeks of boot camp style programming will not fix that. Lifestyle changes take time to apply and for your body to adapt. Set the goal and make the steps towards it, just keep moving forward. Take the time, enjoy the journey.
  6. You cannot out-snatch a doughnut You can put all the hours in the gym and it will all count for naught if you do not clean up the diet. Balance nutrition with training for the quickest results. This might mean preparing meals a few days in advance. 70% diet 30% exercise and 100% commitment.
  7. Keep a food log. This is essential for weight management. If it goes into your mouth it goes in the log. That chocolate éclair you had after lunch doesn’t look so good if you have to log it. It’s a good way to see what your eating habits are and where you need to make changes
  8. Keep a training log Again essential for monitoring progression towards goals in your training. This also ensures you stick to the training plan. Also log your mood during these workout sessions and see if that had any effect on your performance.
  9. Throw away the scales Do not have an over reliance on your weight. Focus more on how your clothes fit. You might not see the weight come away but your shape will change and your clothes will hang differently on your person. Take measurements,thigh upper arm waist. These are a better indication of fat lose than weighing alone.
  10. Drink more water Get at least 2 litres a day into you. More on training days. If you are working, bring a 500ml bottle and fill it at least twice through the working day. Water will help cleans your system, clears the skin and keeps the brain hydrated so in turn keeps the mind focused.

Traditional weight training using barbells/dumbbells involves moving heavy resistance through a linear path by pushing or pulling. These movements are typically performed in the low rep range of between 5 and 15 for a number of sets depending on the weight training program incorporated (5×5/12×3/8×4 etc)
This is fundamentally the most successful way to train for maximum strength.  
Kettlebell training, classed as a form of weight training, involves moving a moderate resistance through multiple planes and rotational loading with full range of motion and lock out at the joints. These movements are typically performed in high volume and for duration of time.  
High volume at moderate intensity strengthens the ligaments and tendons surrounding a joint.  
This also encourages the production of synovial fluid that lubricates the joint, keeping it healthy and strong. This assistance to joint mobility is often overlooked in conventional training. Tendons and ligaments do not develop as quickly as muscle so the risk of injury is increased if weight is increased before these structures are strong enough.   While barbell training promotes max strength gain and hypertrophy, this cannot be said for kettlebell training. Kettlebell training promotes strength and endurance due to the moderate weight being used for extended periods of time (ten minutes in kettlebell sport) This is not conducive to the bodybuilder physique if this indeed is the goal. Kettlebell training increases flexibility, strength and endurance without the added “bulking up” that comes with heavy barbell training. The athlete uses short bursts of ballistic power to generate the movement as opposed to the max time under tension associated with barbells. This makes it an ideal training addition to sports where weight of the athlete is critical and explosive timing is required, such as mma, boxing, grappling etc.  
If given the choice, kettlebell or barbell I’d go with kettlebell. True it’ll never replace the barbell for the max strength gains but it suits my goals for the moment. I want to maintain and eventually reduce my weight and increase my strength endurance and resilience that is required for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

A pressing session

Posted: December 6, 2012 in hardstyle, kettlebell, training

imageThis shoulder training session is about time under tension. Keep the reps slow and controlled during the eccentric phase of the movement.

The beauty of this routine is the loading of the non working side in both the rack and the lockout position. This keeps the shoulders level and square ensuring good posture through the lift.

Use a light to moderate weight on this, it’s not about going heavy but quality of movement I used 16kg bells and I had the DOMS for a couple of days afterwards and not just in my shoulders. 


Give it a try, let me know how you get on  🙂


Most days this is what is going on upstairs

Work out?  You don’t work out with kettlebells, I leave working out to the  mathematicians and accountants.

You train with kettlebells, you learn,you practice and drill, after all repetition is learning.

The more you practice, the better you get, the stronger you get, the more efficient you get.

Strength is a skill, and skills need to be learned and honed. 

Learn the basic movements then add the small details that make them work for you.

Be it a different foot placement that allows you to get a stronger hip drive to move a  heavier bell or a different grip position that doesn’t fatigue the forearms so quick and lets you carry on for longer sets.

This will happen over time through trial and error or with a trainer’s experience (they’ve done the trial and made the errors on your behalf )

As you grow more proficient and more efficient with the movements start chaining them together, combining movements, making them a bit more complex but try to make them flow.

Combine movements that will naturally flow together for example  a swing to clean to squat to press to reverse Turkish get up to negative press to swing and switch hands, the weight is not important but the movement is.

Train the movement,then start developing the strength.

“Obey the principles without being bound by them” ~Bruce Lee


Evolve our way to extinction?

Posted: November 12, 2012 in lifestyle

Are we turning into the humans in the movie Wall-E?

Unfortunately not too far away

Modern technology has mechanised much of what used to be carried out manually, making our lives easier and  more efficient.

But at what cost?

A physically weaker generation dependant on machines to do more and more of what we used to do manually.

We may be the generation that actually outlive our kids.

Today started with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu this morning for 2 hours. A good session with the guys drilling sweeps and basic positional work for those competing this weekend at Grapplepalooza. We went fairly easy so there would be no tempting fate for possible injury in the run up to the competition.

Homeward bound afterwards for some kettlebell conditioning work.

This consisted of 3 roundsof a swing/squat complex  with the 24 kg bell that I’ve now named the “Ticker Kicker”

followed by 2 rounds of the Deep 6 complex with a 20kg bell (Video shows me using the 16, I filmed this last week)

First half of this session really challenged the CNS as the swings and squats took their toll. This carried over to the second half of the session which required a lot of focus and control, especially during the Turkish Get Up.

I was hoping to knock out a third round of the deep six but I found after round 2, I was toast.  Over all a really good challenging session that I know will leave me with some well earned muscle soreness tomorrow 🙂