Don’t worry, I am not about to lecture you on the virtue of being a vegan or anything. Considering I’ve been mostly following a paleo diet for the last few months it would be quite hypocritical of me! No I am going to talk about a topic that can be very divisive among grapplers…cauliflower ear.
Just reading “cauliflower ear”, you probably had one of the following reactions:
- You thought about your own mangled ears
- You thought “oh my god that’s my worst fear!”
- You thought “oh my god I can’t wait to get them!”
It seems to me that there are two main schools of thought where cauliflower ear are concerned. Those who see it as a badge of honor that they earned through hard work on the mat and those who see it as horrible disfigurement they never want on their own body.
I recall in my very early days of BJJ a conversation where someone asked my coach how to prevent cauliflower ears. My coach’s answer was that he didn’t know (an answer that could have been guessed by looking at his ears). He added that he had actually tried to get them when he was younger because he thought they looked cool. I have seen various guys at the gym develop some cauliflower and then proudly show it off to the rest of us. I have seen other guys buy headgear that they religiously wear to every class (despite much ridicule) in an attempt to stave it off.
So why am I bringing this up? I have been giving the topic a lot of thought the last few weeks because I feel like my ears have been hurting a lot. Not awful, always there kind of pain but something I notice when I lay on my side at night.
This is not the first time I have thought about it. I had my ear mashed good about 6 months ago and I thought for sure it was going to get cauliflowered. I did a lot of soul searching about it at the time. Could I handle having cauliflower ear? If I didn’t get it was this a wakeup sign that I needed to finally invest in some headgear and start wearing it? Well I didn’t get cauliflower ear and I didn’t buy headgear but I still don’t know how I feel about rocking cauliflower ear.
Part of me sort of wants it. It’s like a trophy you’ve earned from your time on the mats. And it makes you look tough. I know that when I visit other gyms I often feel a little more respect for the guys with the mangled ears. After all they’ve put their bodies on the line to earn that respect. And it’s a subtle way of letting everyone know who they’re messing with.
But as a woman I am not sure I can pull off the cauliflower look. Women aren’t supposed to have disfigured ears! Many women have the advantage of having long hair to hide their ears but I rock short hair (best decision for a grappler, no more hair adjustments in the middle of a roll!). Am I willing to stare societal norms in the face, point to my mangled ear and say “I don’t care what you think!”?
I haven’t bought headgear even with the latest ear pain. I don’t plan to…I am a freak on the mat as it is, I don’t want to add to that 🙂 My ears take a lot of abuse and have not cauliflowered yet. I am starting to think that I am just not genetically inclined to get it. But if the day comes that I do get it, I don’t think I’ll care. I think I’ll even be a little bit happy, after all I earned it! And hey if it’s good enough for Ronda, it’s good enough for me.