Archive for the ‘bjj’ Category

Clavicle debacle

Posted: June 5, 2015 in bjj, brazilian jiujitsu, training
Tags: ,

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.



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.

I’ve always had a fondness for the martial arts and combat sport.Be it boxing, karate,judo or more recently MMA. The recent main-streaming of the UFC and similar organisations has led to a mass increase in cross training martial arts and the opening of such schools/academies to accommodate the new trend.

One such school is the Combat Sports Centre in Limerick. I was directed towards them by a co-worker who was also a blue belt in BJJ at the time. I had expressed my interest in martial arts and he suggested I give it a try. So I rolled up to the gym, and spoke to a few of the guys. I had no idea what to expect and was going in with an open mind, a gum-shield and a willingness to learn. The gym was split in two, in one room the floor was matted and there was about a few guys grappling in BJJ Gi (BJJ uniform,similar to a judo suit). The other room had bags hanging, a small matted area, and padded walls(to emulate clinch work against the cage) basically the MMA side.

I was waiting for my Gi to be delivered so I decided to hop into the MMA class.

I learned some very valuable lessons here

  1. Always wear a gum shield
  2. Always wear a groin guard
  3. Gym owned boxing gloves stink
  4. I’m too old to be getting punched in the face by guys half my age that are faster and have better reflexes than me

So the following week I turned up for BJJ class with my brand new Gi.

Limerick BJJ Academy

Me and the rest of it

I’m thirty eight years old, happily married with four kids,all boys.
I work a 12 hour rotating four cycle shift pattern in a contact lens manufacturing plant, not my dream job,it pays the bills and that’s all I’ll say about that.
In my spare time I’m a Hardstyle Kettlebell Instructor and a student of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
I’ve been training with kettlebells for the past 4 years and have been teaching them for the past 18 months and I love it. It’s a fantastic way to get fit and I train with them exclusively and combined with bodyweight exercises they really are highly effective. I’ll be covering my training thoughts and differences in techniques and styles in later posts.


I’ve been training /studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu intermittently for the past 2 years, I had an 8 month hiatus last year to focus on the kettlebell coaching side of things but I really missed rolling (the jiujitsu term for sparring) with the guys.
So I try to get on the mats at least once a week.
There are a couple of schools of thought on the practice of this martial art which I’ll give my opinion at another time but the video below really showcases the competition side of BJJ.
My dilemma is the division of my time between work, teaching kettlebells, practicing bjj and spending time with my family.

This forces me to make some compromises

  1. I teach kettlebells from my home studio on my days off , so technically I’m at home but I’m sometimes teaching between 4pm and 9pm with 10 or 15 minutes break between classes every hour to grab a drink.
  2. This means I cannot make the bjj classes on these evenings so I arrange morning training sessions at the academy with some of the other students that work shift/odd hours.
So essentially on my day off I could be training bjj from 10am to 12.30pm, get home, shower, eat and be teaching kettlebells from 4pm to 9pm. Pretty busy for a day off right?

So what about time for the family?

Well my kids are all of school going age so they attend school and the younger ones are home before 3pm and the eldest after 4pm (if he doesn’t hang back playing table tennis with his friends)
When I’m working the night shift I see them in the morning as I get home before they go to school and in the evening before I go to work. When I’m working day shift I get home before they go to bed.
I’m off every second weekend and I find that most people rarely want to train on a weekend so I’m almost always free unless there’s an open mat so I hit the academy for an hour or so on a Saturday morning.
And my wife? Well she’s the one.
In conclusion
Time is the most precious thing you can give to someone or something, you never get it back.
Invest it in something you feel passionate about, whether its your fitness or a martial art, or singing, writing or just sitting in a quiet place for a half hour to gather your thoughts. Make it important for you.
If it’s that important
you’ll make time not excuses.