View Full Version : BJJ Neck Injury

Shane Andrews
07-22-2004, 09:35 AM
Hi all,

I was the recipiant of a nasty neck crank last night complete with a sitout. A few snap, crackles, and pops...and I was in immediate but moderate discomfort.

Today I have OK mobility(painful), but no pain when still. There is no obvious swelling or protrusions in the cervical area. I thought I would inquire here about similar experiences, recovery time, etc. before I rush out to see a Doc. Thanks in advance for your input and time.

Brad Hirakawa
07-22-2004, 01:54 PM
Do you have insurance Shane? If so, couldn't hurt to get a quick x-ray. Last time I jacked up my neck (some minor swelling, moderate pain, no bone or connective tissue damage), it took around six weeks to compeletely heal. Rest, ice, rehab. exercises, and no grappling for a while.

Hopefully you only have a minor strain, or something of that nature.

Neck cranks are nasty, as are heel-hooks, toe holds, etc. Personally, I just tap right away in the event someone sinks one in. No need to fight to escape (unless you have a cooperative training partner).

Jeremy Jones
07-22-2004, 03:42 PM
Unless I am trying to go for money or a metal, I always tap on neck cranks and heel hooks.

I would give it a day or two with ice, and keep it as immoble as possible. Be careful when driving, I remember having a neck injury and cranking it hard (to major discomfort) when checking my blind spot.

If your painless range of motion does not get better after a few days (or a week if you want to push it). . . go to the doctor and have it checked out.

Keith Wittenstein
07-23-2004, 07:03 AM
I've been down that road so many times...

Relax, take some alleve, and ice it. Hot baths, whirlpools, saunas are good too. I have found that doctors will not tell you anything right away and will wait until xrays and MRIs come back. In the meantime they will recommend you rest and stop training. I recommend you rest a couple of days and see if it is healing before going to the doctor. If it is still bad or worse after a couple of days, then go to a doctor. Listen to your body (not your ego).

Most of the time you will be good for training hard again within 3 to 7 days. If it is strained, then just take it easy. It's going to take a long time to fully heal.

However, I have found that most of my jiu-jitsu injuries never fully heal. You learn to roll with discomfort and your body adapts and gets stronger. You might find that after a couple of days you can get back on the mat. Go easy and ask your partners to avoid the neck cranks. Choosing good training partners is as important a skill as any you will learn on the mat.

If 100% training isn't possible (and it is not recommended if this is your first neck injury), consider drilling, for example, armbars and kneebars or positions (side control to knee on belly to mount or guard sweep to mount then bottom person elbow escapes to guard repeat).

BJJ is supposed to be fun and educational. You can maximize both those goals by finding good partners and training smart. And for God's sake, TAP!!!

See you on the mats,

PS - In the event your injury is bad and it keeps you off the mats for a while, I recommend getting some good bjj or abu dhabi tapes and watching matches and taking notes. Plot your revenge! Hehehe. :-)

Jeremy Jones
07-23-2004, 09:41 AM
I forgot to mention the fighter's best friend:

Salenopas (Green box in 'Rite-Aid' or 'Walgreens' etc.)

I think I spelled it right. Basically these are like icy/hot patches that you can put directly on sore areas and they alieviate the pain. They work great. The adheasive works well - so they don't come off easily-, and they last about 4-5 hours.

some bonuses are that you don't smell like an old man (Bengay) and it is not greasy (tigerbalm).

Shane Andrews
07-24-2004, 04:44 PM
Thanks guys for the input. Your responses are appreciated. As far as the tapping part goes, I wished I had had the chance! The neck crank was applied way too fast

Brad, I can talk with you about the specifics later in person... Along with a question!

JJones, Kieth,

You guys hit the nail right on the head. Today is the 4th day since the injury, and my range of motion has increased faster than expected.

I have done ice,heat, and the icy/hot patches (which work well), and am on the up and up.


I like what you say about choosing a good training partner. I have thought about this alot over the past few days. This seems to be especially true when traing with beginners who don't yet have finesse and technical precision and rely heavily on strength and explosive action!

Thanks again for the input.

Keith Wittenstein
07-26-2004, 09:37 AM

Choosing training partners is a fine art.

For general everyday training it's good to find people of equal size and skill to drill and learn moves with.

It's also good to have a few people that are more advanced than you and like to have their way with you. Rolling with more advanced people that can beat you without muscling you is a great way to experience the techniques properly. Advanced players will often point out your weaknesses and mistakes to you and also help correct them. They are a great resource and you should ask them for advice after (not during) a good roll.

Conversely, if you have a few training partners that you can school, it's good. If you treat them well and don't muscle them too much you can work with less advanced partners and practice your techniques. Perfecting your armbars, triangles and various transitions on them is essential before you can start catching purple and higher belts.

Finally, there is the wild card. You should test yourself against an unknown opponent regularly. Somebody that you don't know or are unfamiliar with or that you've just been plain afraid to roll with. This is essential because it teaches you how to adapt to new stimuli. A guy that trains somewhere else and steps into your academy for the first time is likely to have a couple of tricks that you haven't seen before. Take advantage of the opportunity.

Of course, try to avoid the spaz. Avoid rolling with that guy that heel hooks everybody until their knees pop. Also avoid being the spaz that pops everybody's knees and no one wants to roll with.

Protect your neck! See you on the mats!

Jeremy Jones
07-27-2004, 09:58 AM
Part of the fun of being an instructor is getting to roll with all the 'spazs'because nobody else can roll with them without getting hurt.:crazy:

I have been mildly injured multiple times because of this. Goes with the job.

I have learned that a good way to protect yourself is to have constant comunication with your spaz - Always telling them to go slower, easier, and with less power. It is a good idea to tell them if your injured (or afraid of being injured). Sometimes they may think you are some kind of wimp, but that is okay - being macho is the quickest way to going 'snap, crackle, pop'. Besides, he will be the only one who thinks you aren't tough, but everyone else probably already knows he is the 'spaz'.

Also pull your instructor aside and tell them that they are going a little too hard. Most instructors already know who the spazs are, but maybe he/she hasn't picked up on your partner yet.

I have quite a few 'reformed' spazs just because I was able to curb their behavior early in their training. Sometimes this took a talking to, sometimes it took me 'showing' them:wink: how going too hard can hurt people. Eitherway they got the idea.

Ryan Atkins
07-28-2004, 10:32 AM
On a certain level I like the new spaz. I wouldn't want to roll with them on a daily basis because of the aforementioned risk of injury, but I think there are certain benefits on occassion.

In many cases, a newcomer has no experience in fighting before training. They react in practice the same way many would react on the street. Also, they haven't yet been indoctrinated in their school's techniques, so many times they'll try something outside of that school's box, so to speak.

Take BJJ, for example. Most of us who've had any experience, know that it's generally not a good idea to try and submit someone while you're being mounted by that person. Several years back I was wrestling with a newbie who was 'dumb' enough to try a guillotine on me while I was mounted on top of him. He was strong enough to pull it off and, through brute force, make me tap. I learned a very important lesson that day - regardless of position, never feel completely safe. If it weren't for some newbie (thanks, Matt!) I may have never fully appreciated that particular point.



Brad Hirakawa
07-28-2004, 11:43 AM
That reminds me of a densely muscled fellow who was able to submit me by grabbing hold of my wrist (with one hand) and squeezing. This effectively cut off all blood flow to my hand, and rendered the rest of my arm numb. He was a carpet layer, and his grip was terrifying.

Jeremy Jones
07-28-2004, 01:39 PM
My main fear when rolling with the spazs is injuring them. Even with years of experience, I am always worried they are going to try something stupid and hurt themselves.

That being said. . . there is nothing like sparring someone who has no experience. It can change the way you fight dramatically.

I am with you too Ryan. I fought a guy who didn't have any MA fighting experience once. He wasn't aware of the "No grabbing someone's neck and digging your thumbs into his trachea" rule.

He kept doing that to me until I tapped him out. Afterward I had trouble talking for a while, but it really made me think about how I had to adjust my fighting style because he wasn't playing by the same rules. He felt bad and apologized afterward, but I was glad I had learned the lesson.

Brad - I am always so jealous of those freaks of nature:biggrin: I don't like the people who don't feel pain the way we do either, so they don't tap on certain moves. At least once I learn that they don't tap on that move, I know not to do it against them when in a match.

Brad Hirakawa
08-02-2004, 04:44 PM

I was teaching a class last week and a fellow ended up with a broken radial forearm bone.. that sucker snapped so loud... I though the Kali guys were practicing with their sticks during my class. Spent several hours with him in the ER that evening, but he is doing well. Lot of pain involved with his injury, and to his credit he's one tough Marine... didn't even wimper.

Bad combination of a guy with a high pain tolerence, an "I won't tap" mentality, and a very strong training partner / opponent.

I take full responsibility, I should have been watching them more closely. It certainly will not happen again on my watch.


Jason Horton
08-03-2004, 07:44 AM
brad...you are scaring me now! luckily i have a low pain tolerance, love to tap, and have no ego whatsoever. sounds like what happened to Tim Sylvia at the last UFC. glad to hear he is doing well.

Jeremy Jones
08-04-2004, 01:56 PM
How did it break - can you describe the hold?

Brad Hirakawa
08-06-2004, 12:33 PM

Sort of biceps slicer from the guard. The fellow thought the biceps slicer was a "pain" maneuver, and couldn't actually cause damage. He was wrong.

Couple pins in his arm and a few months off and he will be fine.