For several years now I’ve been dealing with a neck injury that, while (hopefully) not catastrophic, has been painful enough to get in the way of my BJJ training. When I came back to my BJJ school a few days ago, I let my excitement to be back hamper my judgement and I started playing with techniques that aren’t necessarily the best for my neck.
Then, the morning after my second class, I woke up with serious, whimper-making, nose running pain in my neck and shoulder. I couldn’t turn my head either direction, raise my arm, bend over, or breathe, without wanting to cry. Don’t ask me what happened – I have no idea. I can only guess I got too enthusiastic about something or other in class the night before.
So here’s the problem. I’m a guard player. I’m actually relatively decent at fighting from my back. I can only guess that it stems from being fairly light weight and not having much success at controlling heavier, stronger opponents from the top when I first started training. (There was one notable episode in which a big newbie got frustrated with me being on top, grabbed me by the belt, and threw me against a wall. Not kidding.) In guard, I can use my legs to control a bigger opponent, move quickly enough to prevent getting smashed, and generally control them a lot better.
Now that my neck prevents me from putting a lot of pressure on my upper shoulders – getting stacked is a bit scary these days, even if I could totally work with it prior to the injury – I need to figure out something else. Different attacks from my back, more top game, just a generally different approach and strategy. I almost feel like I’m starting over again, but I’m trying to look at it as if I were just shoring up some weak spots in my overall game. And I’m trying really hard to remember to tap early and often as soon as someone puts pressure on my neck. Not my strong point, but it’s something I need to get good at or I won’t be able to train at all.
Here’s to learning new things!