BJJ Wrist Injuries and My Guilty Conscience

A bunch of people have recently emailed me, basically asking if I’m still alive. I haven’t been sending out my normal volume of grappling tips and beginner lessons recently, and they want to know why!

You see, I’ve been working like mad on the Online Grappling Concepts course that I’m delivering at my new site, I’m really enjoying creating those lessons, but it takes a lot of time to write, film, edit and encode each weekly lesson. And the 15 to 25 page PDFs that accompanies each weekly lesson. And the occasional bonus video.

Anyway, that’s the reason I haven’t been posting quite as much recently. Thought you might want to know why!

But I HAVEN’T completely forgotten about you. That’s why I want to talk about an easy way to prevent injury.

This tip comes from my heart, because I learned this lesson first hand when I injured my first BJJ teacher (and friend) Pshemek Drabchinsky.

Once upon a time we were grappling. I was on top and things seemed to be going well (this was unusual at the time because he was way more skilled than I). However on this day I almost had him pinned! Pshemek is one of those Daddy Long Legs kind of grapplers, and he was trying to put me back into his guard using his long, flexible and agile legs.

He was pushing on my hip with his hand to make enough room to bring his legs into play.

To thwart his defense I twisted my hips: this is one good option, because changing the angle of your body this way often collapses your opponent’s arms.

Unfortunately this time I did it a little to abruptly and a little too fast.

The bottom man is stiff arming my hips
(over-exaggerated for clarity)…
…so I twist my hips to collapse his defense

There was pop!
And he gasped in pain.

His fingers had got caught on my body and when I twisted my hips he couldn’t get his hand out in time. In effect I had applied a hard, uncontrolled wristlock on my training partner without meaning to do so. His wrist took more than a year to heal completely, and I felt bad about it the whole time.

There are eight small bones, and a lot of ligaments and nerves in the wrist. Unfortunately if something is broken in there, then the fractures is often missed by a non-specialist looking at an X ray. (So if you or someone you know severely injures the wrist, or if a nagging wrist injury just won’t heal, then get hand specialist to take a look at you, and not just the regular ER doc…).

Anyway, I don’t mean to scare you you, but I hope I’ve made my point that wrist injuries are not to be taken lightly.

If someone is pushing your body then go ahead and use the body twist to neutralize his arms. Just don’t do it super-abruptly and with a lot of weight on his hands.

And if you’re pushing from the bottom then be aware of the dangers. Be aware of the angles and positioning of your wrists and hands, and be ready to collapse your arms in before you get inadvertently wristlocked. Better to live and fight another day from the bottom of sidemount than have your training cut short by a hyperextended wrist.

Train safe, because as BJJ black belt David Meyer says, “Injury is the enemy!”