On Knowing When to Walk Away from Jiujitsu

There’s a saying that a black belt is just a white belt that didn’t stop when things got difficult and just kept on training. I’m finding it difficult to find inspiration in that.

Lately, training in jiu-jitsu is frustrating and all I have to show for my efforts is just me getting more hurt.

Yesterday I was paired up with a large, dumpy blue belt to drill sweeps with. He asked if I could stand up so he could work on Dela Riva sweeps. When the fairly simple sweep didn’t work as well as he wanted it to he proceeded to drive his hips into the side of my thrice-injured twice-surgery knee like he was jumping into closed guard.

Knowing that the crap was going to hit the fan I went down to the mat as quickly as possible in the hopes that he’d ease up and let go. Nah, instead, he climbs up further on my leg and pushed his weight down on the follow through.

That’s when I heard the pop.

I yelled at him to get off of me and immediately went to R.I.C.E. my knee. This freaked everyone in the class who’s known about my surgery and my knee, especially Tomari-sensei.

Dumpy offered a half-hearted apology before moving over to the side to do push-ups.

I can walk. I can bend my knee. I still have the same range of motion as previous to this. I can support weight on my right leg.

However, my knee doesn’t feel the same. It feels off. There is a slight dull uncomfortable pain at certain angles, and even though the pain doesn’t linger it’s a reminder of all the times my mobility was hindered because of my injuries and especially of my time after surgery.

As much as I adore jiu-jitsu I’m more appreciative of having the ability to move and walk around under my own power as well as being able to sit cross-legged comfortably.

Ever since I’ve come back to training jiu-jitsu it hasn’t been fun and that perhaps is the strongest indication something is amiss. Right now, it’d be easy to walk away and feel no regrets about leaving. Seriously.


5 responses to “On Knowing When to Walk Away from Jiujitsu

  1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    FedEx that kid over here and I’ll kick his rear end. >.<

    • Oh, how I would love to see that happen!

      After class was done, and Dumpy left, a few guys came up to me and told me how Dumpy takes rolls too seriously and hurts guys because he’s really careless. Add me to the list.

  2. Man, I totally feel your pain. I’ve spent *years* taking layoffs from BJJ due to injury, illness, and life situations.

    But the reoccurring injuries are the most frustrating, for me is usually rib or elbow. It is to the point where before sparring, especially with a guy who doesn’t know me or may not remember that I have injuries, I have to explicitly say, “Bad elbow….did you hear me? I HAVE A BAD ELBOW”

    • Heh. Yeah, I’ve told a lot of my sparring partners about going slow and that I have a “bad” knee. And somehow stuff gets lost in translation.

      Those that get it will be cool about the knee, but still spar at competition level. Not kidding. Probably a Japanese thing as 110% effort is the only respectable option available.

      Those that don’t get it will ask why I even bother training if my knee isn’t completely healed. Sigh.

  3. I felt the same way last summer after getting injured several times in a four month period. I almost took up tennis because I see 60-year-olds do tennis all the time, and I’m 40.

    Instead, when I returned to the mat, I came back with a very different vision for how I would train. Folks who want to go crazy I start by saying, “I have four goals for when I’m 80: I want to walk to dinner, I want to feed myself, I want to know how I am, and I don’t want to s*** all over myself. So take it easy on my joints – if you set up a technique don’t crank it. I’ll tap early. And I do”.

    Now there is still one guy who trains like we’re in the mundials (and this guy is 125% of my body weight). I will tap VERY early with him, and I’ve actually stopped mid-roll and walked away (in fact, I did this last week when he accidentally kicked me in the face and snapped my head back). He no longer takes it personally, and I no longer get injured.

    But, again, I feel you. We all have those times when we question our dedication to the jits, and only you can decide if it’s time to hang it up.

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