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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Safety

Above everything else, the primary focus of HBJJC is to prevent injury while training. There is no higher goal or greater concern than the safety of all students. While physical injuries can occur in any sport or physical activity, these occurrences drastically reduce if each participant takes the appropriate responsibilities. This is especially true in the martial arts. The three main ways to ensure safety while training BJJ are:

1. Maintaining A Proper Mindset
2. Focusing On Pure Technique
3. Observing Appropriate Etiquette

When these three components of safety are fully realized and practiced by all participants, physical injuries in training are extremely uncommon.

Maintaining A Proper Mindset
This idea encompasses many factors. Primarily, the ego should not enter the training area. Ego is the number one injury producer in jiu-jitsu. The hallmark of this personality is someone who measures their development by counting “tap outs”. They are willing to put themselves or their training partners in any position, regardless of the potential for injury, to ensure a “victory”. They abandon technique and throw caution to the wind in an attempt to satisfy their insecurity. This person has no business training jiu-jitsu, since their immature mindset prevents them from grasping any concept of safety or technique development. They are therefore a hazard to themselves and everyone else. There is no room for this person in our club.

Second, one must view sparring as learning, nothing more. Whether you submit someone or are submitted, it is a lesson in improvement. This is true regardless of your skill level, size, strength, gender, or with whom you are rolling. Tapping out is never a ‘defeat’. Actually, one of the best ways to improve your game is to determine how your training partner was able to submit or positionally dominate you. Strengths and weakness can be analyzed, techniques developed and improved. Viewing submission as ‘defeat’ will invite the ego into the environment, which significantly increases injury potential.

Finally, training with a partner should be friendly and fun. Handshakes, compliments, and sharing of information should be the norm. Jiu-jitsu is a time to leave anger, emotions, and stress behind and enjoy a constructive learning experience. A positive, friendly demeanor and mindset are essential in safe training. 

Focusing On Pure Technique
Jiu-jitsu techniques are based on leverage, not strength. Executing proper technique in training will put far less strain on muscles and joints, thereby decreasing the chance of injury to you or your training partner. Jiu-jitsu is not a “make it up as you go” style of self-defense. Individuals with this attitude usually have a higher injury rate simply because they place their bodies in positions that cause undo strain. Focusing and drilling proper technique will not only create a safer training environment for you and your partner, but it will significantly elevate your skill level.

Illegal Techniques
1. Small joint manipulations
- manipulation of the fingers, thumbs, toes, etc.

2. Twisting or hyperextension of the knee
- occurs by manipulation and/or rotation of the heel, foot, or lower leg.

3. Neck cranks
- pulling on the head or neck

4. Cross-facing.
- grinding your arms and/or elbows into your partner’s face.
- includes “unclean” collar chokes which cross the jaw, mouth, and/or nose

5. Striking
- kicking and/or punching

6. Groin shots
- any purposeful or undo pressure to the groin area
- ex - placing the knee in the groin to pass guard

7. General uncontrolled speed
- rolling quickly and recklessly

8. Pinching the skin
- make sure only to grab fabric when using the gi for control

It is important to understand that your training partner is your friend. He/she is someone from whom you are learning. Regardless of your skill or theirs, sparring is education – nothing more. Executing improper or illegal techniques for any reason will not only upset your training partners, but can likely result in injury for either person. An individual who attempts these or any other illegal and/or dangerous maneuvers will not be allowed to train at HBJJC.

Training Hygiene

As most of us know, martial arts/wrestling mats are constantly bombarded with a variety of bacteria, fungi, and even viruses as numerous people train on them. Even the cleanest mats will have these organisms on them.  Our body's natural immunity can handle most of this, but if the bug is particularly virulent, in high numbers, or if you do not conduct proper personal hygiene before and after training, you can end up with a nasty skin infection.  In Minnesota this week, the sport of competitive wrestling has been temporarily halted due to an outbreak of a contagious virus that affects the skin.
There are a few main ways you can help to prevent contracting mat-borne dermatologic problems.

1)  ALWAYS wear a clean gi on the mat.
A gi is to be worn only ONE time and then not worn again until it has been thoroughly washed. Some believe the myth that "letting a gi air out" is sufficient to kill bugs and get the stink out.  It isn't.  Ringworm and other organisms can live in the material for a number of days and you recontaminate the mats when you roll like pigpen.

2)  Have an extra gi (or 2). This goes with point #1. Sometimes getting to the Laundromat more than once a week is hard so you need to have spare clean gi(s).

2)  If you have a cut on your skin - anywhere that may contact the mat - either wrap it thoroughly with a protective barrier or do not train.  Many dermatologic bugs don't need to enter the bloodstream to cause a skin disease, but if your skin is open, you are highly susceptible to other illnesses and potentially greater dermatologic complications.

3)  If you are aware of a dermatologic condition that you have - inform the instructor and do NOT train.  Also, do not train if you have a cold, flu, virus, cold sores/fever blisters/herpes etc.

4)  Keep fingernails and toenails neatly trimmed.  The hands and feet are constantly contaminated with bacteria and fungi.  A prime habitat for them is under and around the nails.  As we train, it is easy to accidentally scratch your partner which can impregnate the skin with bugs.  Along those lines, wash your feet thoroughly each day - the old "let the water run down while I stand in the shower" doesn't cut it.  Fungi live on the feet for days so if you walk on the mat with jacked up dogs, you can contribute to
the problem.

5)  When you shower, use ANTIBACTERIAL soap. Surprisingly, there are not many soaps on the market that can actually kill bacteria.  An oldie but goodie is DIAL, and it even comes in a body wash that doesn't smell like your grandpa.

Email John Gutta