As a white belt in BJJ, I am dominated on the mat, plain and simple. Although I am learning to use technique more and strength less, I lack the experience of the higher-ranked students. As a beginner, I am much more susceptible to injury. The body is having a hard time adapting, at 52 years of age. Since I started training in BJJ in June, I have had two very sore rotator cuffs, a dislocated little toe, a stiff neck, and severely bruised ribs. This has not kept me from training consistently, but has slowed me down.
Injuries Can Be a Blessing in Disguise
I have used the downtime to look at my BJJ books, play BJJ DVD’s and create lesson plans for our MMA classes. I have been able to workshop many BJJ and MMA techniques with our senior students, despite being injured. When I get back on the mat to roll, I will have a better understanding of the intricacies of the moves.
I have been able to continue my yoga classes and conditioning with our MMA students, so my mat fitness should remain okay, even without rolling. Every martial artist should have a backup plan for exercising in the event of injury. There is always something you can do to stay fit. Many athletes cross-train during the time it takes to recover from an injury. It is actually better for your body than doing the same exercises every day.
Injuries Do Not Stop You From Teaching
Injuries have not prevented me from teaching. You can be bruised and battered, and yes, even old, but your knowledge and the ability to impart it to your students can never be taken from you. I taught classes for a year and a half as I recovered from a knee reconstruction, with the help of my able-bodied assistants. This gave them much-needed experience running the classes, while I was able to give them a critique on their teaching method.
As a martial arts teacher, you are only expected to be able to teach your students the movements and help them to understand. You are not expected to be a physical specimen or jump over tall buildings in a single bound.