Jiu-Jitsu is one of the oldest martial arts types, and it is loved by many as a great workout and self-defense practice. However, one of the common concerns and fears that people have is how safe it is. A lot of people believe that any style of fighting or self-defense means you risk concussions.
Concussions are not considered common in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In one particular study by the Epidemiology of sports, it was concluded that out of 778 people, only 25.2% of people reported being diagnosed with concussions. This is only .2% more than 1/4th, much less than half making it not very common.
Now, as with any sport, if it is done wrong or processes are not taken seriously, you always risk becoming injured in severe ways. While it would be difficult to become seriously injured in Jiu-Jitsu, the risk is still there.
How Common Are Concussions In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
While concussions are not extremely common in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they are issues that you may have to deal with if you participate in the sport. A little bit more than 25% of people will ever have to seek medical treatment for a concussion.
While it is unknown why this number tends to be 2-3% higher for women over men in the sport, either way, more than half of all people who participate in Jiu-Jitsu will never have to experience or deal with any symptoms of a concussion.
A lot of people think that wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu are so similar that they are the same thing; however, they are very different. In wrestling, as much as 56% of people who participate in the sport are usually diagnosed with a concussion, and 0.5-1% of those are recorded as fatal.
Wrestling moves are designed to use your weight to pin people, and a lot of the time, that means slamming them onto the ground from higher positions. This is a perfect storm for concussions.
Why Is Jiu-Jitsu Different?
Since Jiu-Jitsu is based mostly on ground movements and routines, there is a much less chance to hit your head hard enough to cause jarring to the brain or concussion-type environments.
Most of the Jiu-Jitsu style of fighting is considered exceptionally gentle compared to other fighting sports or martial arts. In fact, Jiu-Jitsu actually means “gentle art,” but it is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself.
Jiu-Jitsu revolves around different combinations of guarding, holds, and intentionally paralyzing blows to your opponent. While some moves can cause an opponent to fall or be forcibly pushed towards the ground, they are usually in the form of a hold, not a move that should hurt someone, so there is less chance of head damage.
Jiu-Jitsu teaches guarding as a considerable portion of its training, and this also helps significantly with keeping participants safe.
How To Avoid Concussions In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The way to avoid concussions in BJJ is to follow the club rules, talk to your training partner before rolling to communicate injuries and pace, keep your distance from others rolling space, research the club’s culture and decide if it’s the place you want to train at.
Jiu-Jitsu is an extremely safe form of martial arts; however, some things can cause it to be dangerous. Not following rules or ignoring safe practices can put you in positions to be hurt or suffer from compromising injuries.
The good thing is, there are definitely rules and recommendations that you can follow that will help keep you out of harm’s way as much as possible.
Follow Club Rules
Whenever you start searching for a place to practice Jiu-Jitsu, you need to ask for the club rules as soon as you choose to join. These are rules that everyone is required to follow while using the facilities and being trained.
These rules are on,y there to keep everyone on the same playing field and ensure that people are not injured. If you aren’t aware of the club rules, you could injure or get injured by someone by fighting differently than they are.
If you see someone ignoring club rules, say something. Keeping everyone safe is one of the best ways to make sure Jiu-Jitsu is enjoyed by everyone.
Talk To Your Training Partner Prior To Rolling
It’s important to talk to your rolling partner before rolling with them to learn more about them and dictate the pace of the roll. Communicate any injury you may suffer from (like a history of concussions), find out their skills level, especially if they are a white belt.
I found that newer white belts want to prove something to higher belts which can lead to them spazzing out more or even resort to slamming to escape or transition out of positions.
Both of which can lead to your head hitting the ground.
I found it best to take my time with them, slow the pace down, and when I noticed they were rolling too hard for their skill level (which could lead me to get slammed) I would tell them to slow down and concentrate on technique and breathing.
Keep Your Distance From Other Teammates Rolling
One instance where people end up with concussions while practicing Jiu-Jitsu is when they are too close to another group rolling, and one person ends up thrown on top of another person. The impact of one body hitting the floor is not likely to cause any significant damage.
One body’s impact falling on top of another body is much more likely to damage the person on the bottom. It is always wise to make sure there is plenty of room between two groups of people rolling, so anyone who gets thrown doesn’t risk being hit or piled on.
Research The Trainers
When looking for someone to teach or train with you, it is not your best bet to walk into any place and pick the first person who says they can train you. Not everyone was trained well, and even those who were aren’t always great at teaching.
Being trained by the wrong person can put you in dangerous situations or positions that could injure you pretty severely. If you do your research well, you should be able to get enough information about a trainer to be confident in their ability to train you safely. Things you want to look for in a trainer’s history are:
- How long they have been practicing Jiu-Jitsu
- Who trained them and how long they practiced Jiu-Jitsu
- How long were they trained?
- Real person reviews on their training styles and abilities
- Where they train and the opinion of those who practice with them.
Knowing all of these things may seem like overkill; however, being confident without a shadow of a doubt that they will train you safely is worth it.
Signs Of A Concussion
If you are concerned that you have a concussion, a few things you can look for are:
- Blurred vision
- Headaches or head pressure
- Seeing stars
- Vomiting or nausea
- Short-term memory loss
- Lack of ability to remember how you got hurt.
Most people think you need two or more of these symptoms to be diagnosed with a concussion, but the reality is if you have been hit in the head or if your head has received a blow of any kind, you need to go see a medical professional.
Even if you have a slight headache, that can cause significant issues and get worse if you ignore it and try to walk it off. At the very least, stop training and working out until you have seen a medical professional and gotten cleared for activity again.
It is a common misconception that Jiu-Jitsu is a dangerous sport. Most of these misconceptions come from knowing that it is a style of fighting, which just sounds dangerous.
Thankfully, when done correctly, Jiu-Jitsu is a very safe form of self-defense. In general, when safety rules are followed, most people never experience an injury of any kind, and that includes concussions.
Old School Jiu-Jitsu: How Common Are Concussions In Jiu-Jitsu
Grappling Arts: How To Avoid BJJ Injuries
NIH : Epidemiology of Sports Related Concussion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A Cross-Sectional Study
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