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The Number 1 Reason to Lift Weights for BJJ

recovery s&c

BJJ has a high injury rate, and data supports this fact. 


68.8% of grapplers will take at least one 2-week absence from training due to injury over 3 years of grappling. 


Want to hear something crazy? 


The higher your belt level, the more likely you will be injured — this problem is also amplified by age and gender. 


A study published in 2021 titled "Injury Patterns, Risk Factors, and Return to Sport in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu" surveyed 1140 grapplers to gain insight into patterns of injury in BJJ. 


Here's a summary of the most interesting findings:

  • The most commonly injured sites were the lower (45.7%) and upper extremity (30.2%), specifically the knee (27.1%) and shoulder (14.6%). 
  • 77.6% of injuries occurred during sparring 
  • Older age was determined to be a significant risk factor 
  • Most injuries occurred during submissions (29.7%), takedowns (26.4%), and guard passes (24.0%)
  • Submission techniques that caused the most injuries were the armbar (22.4%), Kimura (12.6%) and heel hook (11%).



Is This Data Useful or Relevant?

Wow, jiujitsu is dangerous, and no one should do it, right?


Pfft, no. 


This study has a selection bias as a survey used to collect the data was titled "Injuries in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu" (meaning people injured in BJJ are more likely to fill it out). 


This means that the numbers are likely inflated compared to the true injury rates (how inflated? No idea.) 


We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water... as this isn't the first time injury rates in BJJ have been published. 


Similar to studies assessing injury factors and risk in BJJ:

  • Incidence of Injury Among Male Brazilian Jiujitsu Fighters at the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship 2009 (2014)
  • Could current factors be associated with retrospective sports injuries in Brazilian jiu-jitsu? A cross-sectional study (2017)
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Injury in Training Survey (2019)
  • Injuries Common to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner (2023)


Another interesting note to point out is if we compare the submission techniques with the highest 'likelihood of injury' with ADCC 2017, 2019 and 2022 submission data, we see that the top 3 submissions are:

  • RNC (not a joint submission)
  • Armbar 
  • Heel-Hook 

Source: BJJ Heroes 


Maybe the armbar, heel hook and kimura are not the most dangerous; they're just the most common and highest percentage. It would be interesting to see a comparison between injury rate and submission attempts. 


(This is just my theory, and I am by no means a data scientist) 


One conclusion we can draw from all these data is that injury risk in jiujitsu is real.


If you want longevity in the sport, you must be proactive and reduce your risk — or 'risk' becoming a statistic


What To Do About It  —  The Magic Pill

If there was a pill you could take that reduced your risk of injury in BJJ by at least 40%


...would you take it?


This pill has no adverse side effects, you only have to take it twice weekly, and it's free.


Such a pill exists, and it's called sport-specific strength training. 


Allow me to introduce you to a study published in 2021, "A Comprehensive Summary of Systematic Reviews on Sports Injury Prevention Strategies".


This study assessed many systematic reviews and meta-analyses on sports injury prevention programs.


Here are some key findings that are relevant to our jiujitsu context:

  • Injury prevention programs are effective and can reduce injuries by at least 40% in youth and adults.
  • Strength training, proprioception, balance, and psychological programs have all been shown to be beneficial, while (static) stretching has not.
  • Substantial evidence supports the FIFA 11+ program (a dynamic warm-up) for preventing sport-related injuries.
  • In contact sports, exercise-based programs are successful in reducing injuries.
  • There is no evidence supporting the use of a knee brace.
  • Evidence supports ankle bracing and taping, reducing ankle injuries by at least 60%. 


From these findings, we can confidently say that sport-specific strength training reduces injury risk


The Practical Takeaways 

The best strategy to reduce your risk of injury is to implement a jiujitsu-specific strength training program 2-3 times per week and do a dynamic warm-up before your BJJ sessions. 


I've got you covered in both areas. 


I have a free 2-day per week full-body training program you can download here and a free BJJ-specific dynamic warm-up and cooldown program you can download here. 


Or, if you want to take your training to the next level with support, coaching and programs tailored to your goals, check out BJJ Strong Online. 


Strength training for injury prevention won't take up much time and doesn't negatively impact your grappling (it makes you better).


Will you take the pill or take the risk? The choice is yours. 





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