A central tenant of BJJ is that a smaller person is able to successfully defend themselves against a physically larger opponent. This is achieved through correct techniques, leverage and taking the fight to the ground (demonstrated here by Arty Ziff).
Due to the rise in popularity, I have also seen a rise in the presentation of BJJ competitors at Roar Physiotherapy.
As such, I wanted to learn more and headed straight to the literature, so that you don’t have too!
There were two reliable studies that I found, both discussing the injury rate in the BJJ community.
The main types of injuries were;
- Joint-related (orthopaedic) injuries (78%)
- Costochondral or rib injuries (15%)
- Lacerations (7%)
The most common joints injured & their mechanisms of injury were;
- Elbow (39%) – Arm bar
- Knee (19%) – Passing guard, sweeps & takedowns
- Foot and Ankle (14%) – Takedown & foot lock
- Hand (11%) – Getting caught in Gi, Blocking
- Shoulder (11%) – Kimura
Due to being a martial art and potentially high impact, it can seem like BJJ is fraught with injury. In reality however, the researchers found that the injury rate was between 1-2.5% of all competitors (slightly more risk in the black and brown belts), as well as stating BJJ had a ‘substantially’ lower risk of injury than judo, taekwondo, wrestling, and mixed martial arts.
So, I hope this gives you the reassurance to have a crack at BJJ and experience a new type of exercise and fitness!
To those of you in the BJJ community potentially experiencing injury, get in touch with Roar Physiotherapy and get it sorted to get back to your arm bars, sweeps and kimuras quicker!
Roar Principal Physiotherapist
Kreiswirth, E. M., Myer, G. D., & Rauh, M. J. (2014). Incidence of injury among male Brazilian jiujitsu fighters at the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship 2009. Journal of athletic training, 49(1), 89-94.
Scoggin III, J. F., Brusovanik, G., Izuka, B. H., Zandee van Rilland, E., Geling, O., & Tokumura, S. (2014). Assessment of injuries during Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 2(2), 2325967114522184