The Best Way To Destroy Your Knee

Posted: July 21, 2013 in Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Off the mats..
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It started like so many classes before it. Warm ups, good technique and finishing with drilling. In our fundamentals class we were covering guard pulls. We practiced the standard foot in the hip guard pull and then drilled it. We then drilled jumping guard, where the bad guy bases down and the good guy drilled jumping to guard, reversing sides each time.

Class was over. I had been busy at work and had been off the mats for a while and wanted to get some rolls in. We had a new student who had just started the day before. I was told that he was a natural. He was physically fit and moved well. My coach told me to roll with him a little bit before he took off. I didn’t have too much trouble with him and I had easily managed to arm bar and triangle him in the first few minutes. I was getting cocky. I was doing what I wanted with him and I wanted to practice some side-control and half-guard escapes so I let him pass to side-control. He tied me up in a half-nelson and held me there. He was strong and I couldn’t get away. Well shit. Now what? I figured I’d tap because he was stalling and I wasn’t escaping. Of course, as is the nature of things, that’s what my coach managed to see and called me out for tapping to the new guy who was on day 2 of his training. Dammit. Now I have to prove something. I’m a blue belt and I’ll be damned if thats what my coach sees before I leave for the night. I knew I could smash this kid and I was going to prove it.

We started again. He started standing, his feet squared to me, slightly squatting with his hands looking to control my legs so he could maybe shoot to side-control or mount. Typical wrestler. I stayed in a combat base. I leaned forward slightly reaching with my right hand for his left leg. I wanted him to step back and he did. As his weight was shifting back and away I stepped in for a single leg pick and got it! I had him right where I wanted! Stepping up and looking to drive my weight to the right for the take down he jumped to pull guard. Smart man. He didn’t know much but he was smart enough to recognize an opportunity to execute what he just learned in class. Like I had been told, he was a natural.

Unfortunately for me, I had leaned too far forward looking for the leg pick. I also kept my head down, instead of looking up, which is a problem I consistently have. It keeps my neck safe but it makes my single leg take downs sloppy. Since I was top and forward heavy I wasn’t able to adjust my footing when he jumped to guard and my heel wedged between his butt and the mat, forcing my knee to carry his weight when he jumped. It didn’t. My knee buckled popping out of place. My patella dislocated, allowing my knee to bend in all kinds of wrong directions. My LCL tore and my hamstring was hyperextended. As we continued to collapse and roll my patella relocated itself and my knee painfully returned to its original position.

As I laid on the mat, writhing in pain, my knee swollen, and a new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu student watching in deep concern I learned many, many lessons. First, I’m getting a little old. 30 may be the new 20 but I ain’t the 20 year old I used to be. I have to learn to roll smarter, use my brain and good technique. i also need to work to correct my sloppy skill set.

Second, leave your ego at the door (sound familiar?). Just because I think I may be better than the new student, doesn’t mean I have to prove it. Proving I can tap a white belt with 2 days of training doesn’t actually prove anything, either. I didn’t respect my opponents ability. I figured he was new and I was in complete control of the situation. I figured the guy wearing the loaner gi was not a threat to me. I was wrong.

Third, my team was there for me. They took care of me. They elevated my leg and iced it. They carried me to one of their cars and drove me to the ER. They checked on me in the hospital. They came back and picked me up and took me back to the gym to get my car. They called and texted the next day wishing me well and checking up on me.

I managed to dislocate my knee, tear my Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), strain my Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and strained my hamstring. I think it was probably the most painful experience my body has had to physically endure.

Comments
  1. That sucks. Sorry to hear about the injuries!!! I have nothing to prove when I roll. I appreciate the roll for what it is. I learn if I submit. I usually learn more when I get submitted. I could care less if I tap someone or if I tap. Sometimes I try to go all aout and keep it real. Other times keep it playful.. Other times, I only try to defend. But, I think by you just trying to beat the new guy, served very little purpose and your coach putting pressure on you to roll with him and beat him was unwise, in my opinion. It was a no win situation for you, with that kind of attitude, and unfortunately you got hurt. You did learn a better attitude, but at a very steep price. I hope your coach learned something too? Hopefully, you recover soon and are back on the mats.

    • Jonny says:

      I don’t think my coach pressured me at all. None of this is his fault. He asked me to roll with him because he did very well on his first day and he thought it would be an excellent learning experience for him and a good roll for me. The only pressure to ‘win’ was self-induced by my pride and ego.

      My pride and ego, which I try to check but often fail at, are the two main culprits. Pride comes before the fall (literally). Sloppy technique on part was the rest.

      I am doing physical therapy twice a week and exercising the knee with light yoga and exercises. The doc says I won’t need surgery and should make a pretty quick recovery.

  2. Justin Hull says:

    I’ve dislocated my patella sparring with a new white belt as well. I did a few weeks of physical therapy when it still felt off months later. My insurance changed to a high deductible plan and the PT wasn’t seeming to help anyway, so I stopped going. It’s now been 7 months since the accident and I haven’t been able to practice BJJ since. My knee sometimes randomly feels a little unstable, or starts to click, which is mildy painful. My biggest issue though is that I can’t confidentally kneel on my knee. Putting weight on my patella doesn’t feel right, and often leads to a feeling of instability. I know I should see a specialist, but can I ask what your experience was rehabing your injury? Does any of this sound familiar? How long did it take you to get back to jiujitsu?

    • Jonny says:

      I did PT for 6 weeks before even getting an MRI to find out that I tore my hamstring. It’s still not fully healed. I have the same issue where I feel uncomfortable and unstable. My knee will randomly buckle sometimes. I still don’t have full range of motion in it.

      I did a lot of yoga. I would recommend it. You will notice the difference after a few weeks if you do a couple classes a week. And you will notice when you don’t do it. I also took up some Crossfit style training. The dynamic lifting forces you to trust your knee. Just use light weight. I started with just the bars and PVC pipe just to work on the range of motion of my knee.

      My Jiu Jitsu has suffered tremendously. I still go but I can’t train hard. I can’t drill hard. It’s more of a cooperative roll with training partners I trust now, than sparring.

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