Training Jiu-Jitsu and Injuries

Jiu-Jitsu, injuries, and setbacks by Adam benShea

For better or worse, we live in a time of quick sound bites, terse tweets, and waning attention spans. What could be discussed in past generations with a lengthy discourse must now be compacted into an easily digestible quote, catch phrase, or bumper sticker.

With that in mind, the manner in which one handles a training injury may be summarized with this line from Epictetus:

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. 

For many, the quote will suffice. For others, a further explanation is in order. It is for those that we will unpack this quote, briefly. 

A Greek stoic philosopher, Epictetus believed that external events are outside of our control. We are only responsible for the discipline we bring to life’s events.  

Along those lines, many of us who train in martial arts will be faced with an injury. While we may not have ordered the delivery of this unfortunate circumstance, we do have the luxury of deciding the manner in which we accept this predicament.

In a broad sense, you have two choices.

One, you can take a victim mentality by bemoaning your physical pain, binge-watching Netflix, and letting your hard earned gains go down the drain by stuffing your face with simple carbs.

Or, two, you can take control of your situation. You continue to show up to class. You find a way to train around an injury. You stay a part of the academy and our shared training community.

In a practical sense, this could mean just doing the warm up, completing some stretching on a corner of the mat, or maybe simply watching the technique. Whatever you are able to do, you do. That is the discipline.

The lessons of self-discipline learned through your martial arts journey do not end when you step off the mat. Life will throw punches and takedowns your way, it is up to you to decide how you react.   

Adam benShea, PhD, is a Paragon BJJ black belt. He has taught jiu-jitsu at Paragon since 2002, is a college lecturer, and coauthored the bestselling Jailhouse Strong series.