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The Top 5 Injuries in Jiu-Jitsu : Gracie Academy

Posted in Health, Jiujitsu, Miscellaneous, Safety, Training with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2015 by Combative Corner

One of the most important videos of all-time!

Although Rener Gracie almost always starts his videos with these words… this time, I whole-heartedly agree!

Injuries can and will cause people to not only stop training, but in some unfortunately instances, stop training all together.  Remember, many of these injuries are preventable… learn to roll safely, learn your body and its limitations, and learn the best ways to heal & recover.

In future articles, we will have more information on various injuries.

Check out these great links !

Neck Injuries : Common Injuries #1 – The Neck

Back Pain & Rehab : Rener Gracie on Core Strengthening

More on Neck & Back with Keith Owen: From The Ground Up

If you have any advice or comments – REPLY below!


Creating Joyous Practice with the Five Animal Frolics

Posted in Health, Internal Arts, Internal Development, Qigong, Spirituality, Styles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Combative Corner

Qigong is a unique & ancient Chinese exercise and healing system that allows you to enhance health & prevent illness by aligning the mind & body with Qi (“Chi”/Vital Energy).  Qi is the vital energy that we are born with, the energy that we receive into our body by the food we consume and through nature (e.g. the air we breathe). 


The 5 Animal Frolics (五禽戲, Wu Qin Xi) is a complete qigong system, and the most ancient qigong system still practiced today.  According to Kenneth Cohen, author of The Way of Qigong,”As story has it (Daoist Legend) Hua Tuo [110-207 AD/CE] received this text as well as instruction in Five Animals from two recluses living in a cave on Mount Gong Yi.”  The “more recent” teachers whom are credited with spreading qigong (and Five Animal Qigong, in particular) are Madame Guo Lin (1906-1984) and Feng Zhiqiang (who learned this from his teacher, Hu Yao-zhen)*.  The series of exercises that comprise the Five Animal Frolics not only help to keep the body sprightly and strong, but it engages both the mind and spirit as well.  The Five Animal Frolics helps to create depth to your practice by allowing your body to communicate in different ways.

“When you practice the animals, do not imitate the animals, become them!”

(Kenneth Cohen)

TIGER – Strong and ferocious, the tiger is skilled at pouncing and quick at snatching prey.  When practicing the tiger form, it is necessary to keep eyes alert and “paws” flexible at times and sometimes with great power at the fingertips.  [Organs: yin/Liver, yang/Gall Bladder]

DEER – Practicing deer play helps to develop grace and relaxation through stretching the legs and spine. [Organs: yin/Kidneys, yang/Bladder]

MONKEY – Practice the monkey form to develop suppleness and agility.  It is encouraged to not only do the large movements, but to squint and purse your face as a monkey would. [Organs: yin/Heart, yang/Sm. Intestines]

BEAR – Practice the movements of the bear to develop strength/power.  It fortifies the bones and develops energy in the kidneys, your fundamental source of vitality. [Organs: yin/Spleen, yang/Stomach]

CRANE – Light, agile and balance are qualities of the crane.  Becoming the crane, you stretch the ligaments and helps to release tension/compression in the spine. [Organs: yin/Lungs, yang/Lg. Intestines]

“Feeling is a language.  This language allows your body and mind to communicate.  But if you don’t pick up this feeling, the effectiveness of exercise becomes shallow.”

(Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming)

We encourage everyone to find the various movements/exercises of each animal that work for you.  Adding this to your training will keep you feeling young, invigorated, and well-balanced.  For more information on the Five Animal Frolics you can check out any of these suggested titles:  The Way of Qigong (K. Cohen), Five Animal Sport Qigong DVD (Dr. Yang), Five Animal Frolics Qigong (F. Fick) or Wu Qin Xi (Chinese Health Qigong Association).

Check out Master Jesse Tsao’s video for an introduction to Bear Play

*According to Kenneth Cohen, The Way of Qigong.

Informational sources:

Five Animal Sport Qigong (dvd), Master Jesse Tsao (Youtube Channel Videos),, The Way of Qigong (Cohen), Animal Frolics (Garofolo, Michael P.), Life Balance (Zhuang)

Related Articles

Standing Three Circle Qigong : Eli Montaigue

A Few Words : Master Chungliang, Al-Huang

Living 100 Years, Re-Learning to Breathe : Joyce

Martial Effectiveness of Wuji : Rodney Owen

Common Injuries in Jiu Jitsu | Neck

Posted in Health, Jiujitsu, Martial Arts, Nutrition, Safety, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2011 by chencenter

It can go without saying that injuries in jiu jitsu is not so much a question of how it will happen to you, but when.  After getting back to the mat post-honeymoon last Saturday night, I could sense that the coming Sunday was going to be sore one.  After waking up (moving quite like Batman), I felt compelled to write.


[Commonly encountered from neck cranks, guillotine chokes & hard falls]

 Muscles Affected*: [Upper/Mid-back] Semi-spinalis, Longissimus dorsi, Iliocostalis dorsi, Trapezius [Neck]  Semispinalis capitus, Levator scapulae, Longus capitus, Longus colii, Scalenes, Splenius cervicis


The first thing to understand (and sometimes a difficult thing amongst men) is “Don’t be a hero.”  Before more damage is done, Tap out!  It also helps to communicate beforehand with your training partner, especially if they are strong to begin with.  If something feels injured, it probably is (proceed to step 2).  The quicker you start the healing process (which first is the sometimes difficult task of stopping your training – at the very least for the time being).

Listen to your body.  Don’t be a hero.  What you do from the time injury occurs and for the proceeding 24-72 hours, is of monumental importance.  Stretching beforehand is crucial before any activity and will help stave off the soreness and lessen the possibility for injury.


Most of us have heard the acronym “R.I.C.E.”  It stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  Stay away from heat (it’ll increase the inflammatory response).  I learned in massage school the tremendous benefits of ice therapy and highly encourage everyone to apply it, constantly.  Studies have show that heat (although it may feel nice) acts superficially and doesn’t get quite the rush of blood and nutrients that cold produces.  Aspirin or Alleve is a good pain reliever but Arnica is a great natural, topical treatment (applied only to injured, unbroken skin) [Weil, 2006].  Three key nutritional needs for muscle recovery/growth are vitamin C (chief component of connective tissue healing) and protein (essential for muscle growth/regrowth) and hydration.  Speaking from personal experience, even with the use of multiple, daily applications of ice, and plenty of good rest and nutrition, pain (although in a diminishing amount) is present anywhere from 3 to 14 days.


It is always advisable to see a physician regarding any injury, however many injuries we sustain in the martial arts and through training are (fairly) minor and can be dealt with through the application of good sense and information (from expert sources**).  Acupuncture, massage therapy and (especially) chiropractic treatments are avenues highly worth exploring and will help keep your body working in top order.  And while recovery is best done with rest, it is not to say that some motion is bad.  The body craves motion (but know your limits/boundaries)! Light stretching, slow movement and (pain-free) rotations of the joints can be highly beneficial in boosting circulation, improving muscle tone and lubricating the joints.  A great resource for anyone is Dick Hartzell (inventor of the Flex band).  Here is one of my favorite videos of his for shoulders [Click Here].


You’re body is yours and yours alone, and it goes without saying that we should do our utmost to keep it healthy.  When, how soon and how hard you continue your training is ultimately in your hands and should be a safe call.  Be patient and make sure your ready.  If you’ve consulted your physician or chiropractor, ask him or her if and/or when you’ll be ready to continue training.  Good luck everyone.

We at The Combative Corner wish you all the best and – no injuries!  Cheers.

Please offer your advice if you feel we missed/left out anything


*Obviously injuries vary and therefore different muscles can be damaged/injured to a greater extent.  This is not a complete list, as other muscles maybe affected as well.  It is, however, of benefit to become aware of these muscles.

**Author Michael Joyce is a professional martial artist, licensed massage therapist (#6096) and has his degree in the Exercise & Sport Sciences.  Additional Resources: Andrew Weil M.D., The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2004, Volume 32, Dr. Tom Deters, Ashok V Gokhale, MD, PhD, eMedicineHealth.

-Photos of Muscles Courtesy of: Greys Anatomy

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