The frustrated and the furious

This has been my life since I have started to get back to training. I am now done with physical therapy (not because my knee was 100% better but because the prescription was for 4 weeks and I did not go back and get another) and trying to smartly ease my way back into training. At first I wasn’t going every night and now I am going more nights than not but trying not to roll hard two days in a row.  It’s been mostly going well but every now and then (like this past weekend) I push it too hard and my knee swells up and gets painful again. This is of course super annoying because all I want to do is get back to training like I was and each setback makes me wonder if that is even possible.

For some reason (advancing age? broken down body?) this injury seems to have taken more out of me than my others as well. I am having trouble picking up anything we drill and when I roll I feel weak, slow, gassed and ineffectual. I know that I just have to get used to training again but it’s hard not to feel frustrated by taking steps back.

I am no stranger to jiu-jitsu injuries. I have had a few rib injuries, concussions, popped elbows, my fair share of black eyes and more gi burns, scrapes and bruises than I can count. Mostly when I’ve been injured my focus has been on rehab and all I can think about is getting back on the mat. However with this injury I am experiencing a lot of anger for the first time.

Why am I so angry? Because this injury was 100% preventable. In the past when I’ve gotten hurt it’s been during tournaments or rolling where I go in knowing that I am accepting a lot of risk but this injury came about because an overzealous partner went too hard while drilling single legs. It’s really hard for me to admit that “out loud” because I feel like I am breaking one of the sacred, unspoken rules of jiu-jitsu in which we never blame our partner for an injury.

I think it’s important to state that I know that my partner did not intentionally injure my knee and although I am not overly happy with this drilling style, I don’t think any less of him as a person or hate him now (truthfully I don’t see him anymore as he’s gone back to school but if/when he comes back, I still won’t hate him). But the fact of the matter is that I was standing there offering no resistance and my partner shot in really hard on my knee and I got hurt and when I think about it, I get angry.

Besides the fact that I feel completely rusty, I find that I am shutting down and just concentrating on not getting hurt when I roll. This is a problem I had before and I definitely do not want to go back to that style of jiu-jitsu. I worked really hard to overcome this in the past and I feel like I’ve added a mental setback to the long list of physical setbacks I have to deal with. This is, I think, why I feel so angry about this injury. Because I feel like I’ve regressed and this would not have happened if my partner was a little more careful when drilling.

I also find that I am feeling overly anxious about who I roll with. My gym has a lot of big guys (to me at least, I guess it’s all perspective) and in the past I have not been afraid to roll with most of them. I have felt that my jiu-jitsu was to the point that I could deal with someone wanting to hulk smash me but now whenever I get approached by one of the big guys, in the back of my head all I am thinking is “don’t hurt me”. This is definitely not a good mental state to be in when starting a roll.

So this is where I’m at right now. I’m rusty, out of shape, angry and afraid of half the people at the gym. Sounds bleak right? I’m not going to lie, it is. But as much as my brain is feeling done with jiu-jitsu right now I know that this is nowhere near the end of my journey. Even now as I am driving to the gym making myself nuts overthinking everything (this is one of my more endearing qualities), I feel the surge of adrenaline and anticipation I get every time I go to train. There have been moments where I’ve had a good roll or something finally clicks and I remember the part of jiu-jitsu that is pure joy.

So the plan for now is to keep being smart about training but to keep pushing myself to go. Eventually my brain will remember what the rest of me has not forgotten and we’ll all love jiu-jitsu again. I also have to make peace with my anger because it is only getting in the way of me moving past this injury. As always the only solution to a jiu-jitsu problem is more jiu-jitsu!

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3 responses to “The frustrated and the furious”

  1. Sarah says :

    Oh so much empathy right now. Been there. The only reason I’m not there now is my extended hiatus, which makes my stressragefrustrationwoe!ball get shoved in the closet except for special occasions, like when I read BJJ blogs.

    I know the rage. And the frustration. And the secret frustratedOMGWTF that comes when you don’t want to blame your partner but you can’t keep it from spilling out a bit.

    I don’t blame the guy who messed up my knee. It was a mistake. He didn’t mean to. It could’ve happened to anyone. And I know that, and I don’t, like you said, hate the guy. BUT – I’m still irritated that he was so intent on dropping me on my ass that he didn’t make sure his form was correct before yanking my knee in a way it shouldn’t be yanked. It could’ve been me that did that. But it wasn’t. So I can’t fight the irritation that I have to take a year off because he made a mistake. Its really hard to fight that.

    And, my god, I also know how shitty it feels to feel like a cautious baby, always worrying about getting hurt – even when you’re not worried about getting hurt, you’re worried about it. Because you’ve been there, and you’re there now. Yep. But it really can’t be helped. Its your body – and your brain – ‘s way of looking after you. When your knee is safe again, you’ll get back to feeling normal. If I’m wrong, you can poke me somewhere soft with a pointy stick.

    I swear, the last three weeks before my surgery were epic. I threw caution to the wind, decided “I’m getting surgery anyway!” and played like I wasn’t afraid to break something. It was wonderful. Idiotic, but wonderful. Because I was so frustrated with five months of babysitting my knee.

    Anyway – its just a matter of time before you’re feeling free again. And I’m pretty sure that comes with more jiujitsu (but not body-damagingly-excessive jiujitsu). And a reminder that it makes you happy.

  2. slideyfoot says :

    I don’t see any issue with letting somebody know if they are to blame for an injury. Normally it is just an accident, but if a training partner has been the direct cause of an injury due to their behaviour, then they are an injury risk: better to tell them and stop it happening to somebody else.

    Having said that, I can’t remember if I said anything about it to the person who injured me in judo, before I started BJJ. May have just ranted about it on my blog, here, so I clearly wasn’t following my own advice back in 2005. 😉

  3. tonydismukes says :

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to practice rolling with a primary focus on not getting hurt. In many ways it encourages the development of better technique.

    For the last year or so I have made keeping myself safe and watching out for my long term health the top priority whenever I roll. Sometimes that means giving up a pass that I could have prevented by using my maximum flexibility. Sometimes it means tapping out to a non-technical submission that I might have been able to resist.

    The result of maintaining this sort of focus? I’m getting technically much sharper. I’m able to train more often and more consistently, even when I’m nursing an injury. I’m able to relax and enjoy my rolling more because I’m confident that, win or lose, I’m not going to get hurt.

    I don’t know whether this the best mindset for someone who is aiming to become a top tournament competitor. I do think it’s a good mindset for anyone who plans to spend a lifetime doing jiu-jitsu.

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