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Thread: Question for the Experts - Can I do this?

  1. #1

    Question for the Experts - Can I do this?

    Hey folks, I've been thinking about getting into some sort of unarmed training. Here is the rub, I have dislocated both my shoulders in sports and my left arm will want to start popping out if you look at it wrong. Realistically what could I do given my old injuries? BJJ scares the shit out of me because I don't really want to get my arms torqued off. No real experience with anything other than taking Tae Kwon Do as a kid (doesn't everyone? ).

  2. #2
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    I'm not an expert, but I have had shoulder dislocation issues before. Not to delay you starting to train, but you might want to seek some professional rehab to strength your shoulder/rotator cuff area. And get a medical opinion on training with someone with a sports medicine background if possible as well. BJJ can be trained safely, but there are limits to how easy you can work.

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  3. #3
    Outside of training issues, just for pure quality of life, I would be working hard on a shoulder strengthening weight lifting program. If they pop that easily, there are underlying weaknesses that will bite you in the behind whether you ever do any H2H training or not. Check out the All Things Strength and Wellness, Joe Defranco's Industrial Strength, and the Rdella Training podcasts for tips.

    Both of my shoulders have been trashed. In a tournament a few years ago I separated my shoulder (level 3) and partially tore the labrum. I was back rolling, though in a very slow and easy manner with trusted partners, two weeks later. I also spent a good deal or time doing shoulder strengthening work. My shoulders are not great - in fact, I cannot do heavy presses at all anymore - but I can train without much of a problem. One thing people miss in BJJ that is key is the ability to "lock" your joints at the right leverage point. When someone is able to do that when rolling, they get the same backhanded comment from the other guy - "you are so strong" - which is an excuse for why that guy can't do better against the person who knows how to brace their posture and joints. It is a bullshit comment and totally inaccurate. It has nothing to do with strength or muscle, but is an understanding how leverage, position, base, and posture work together to keep you safe. You can train with weaknesses, you just have to understand the principles.

    If I were in your shoes, I would focus on rehabbing my shoulders, and then when they have made some progress, I would find a BJJ academy that was legit and reputable, and speak to the instructor about your concerns. If he is a bit dismissive of them, that is an indication that is is probably not the place for you. If he sounds like he is thoughtful about it, you are most likely going to be fine training there. But personally, for me, the rehab work is a major priority.

    One thing to absolutely NOT do is to take any kind of striking art. The trauma that your shoulders will experience will be so much worse than someone cranking on it with a kimura. I know that my shoulders were damaged badly over the past 39 years with my striking work, because that was the main focus of my training for the first 20 years. You will cause yoruself a lot of problems trying to be a puncher.
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  4. #4
    mama tried blues's Avatar
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    Cecil's right on, as usual, 100%, in my experience.

    I dislocated / separated my right shoulder in a low level avalanche in the Wind Rivers in 1974. Following that incident, (self treated), it would pop out at various intervals, totally unexpectedly. Throwing a football, rock climbing, canoeing, practicing Shotokan etc...until I did a lot of weight training to strengthen all the muscles in the shoulder girdle, lats etc. Now it hasn't happened in years, though the shoulder still gives me reminders of my mortality when I try to hold my arms up above my head for any length of time. (Overhead presses done at a smooth pace are okay, bells or olympic bar...dumbbell benches are iffy once I get above 70 lbs with each hand.)

    (My last incident was several years ago while doing weighted dips. Around 50 lbs around waist at the time. I started listing to starboard, no pain at the time, and knew something was amiss. It was about a year before I could lift again. I've had to give up dips because I can no longer do the range of motion.)
    Last edited by blues; 06-12-2019 at 01:08 PM.
    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cecil Burch View Post

    One thing to absolutely NOT do is to take any kind of striking art. The trauma that your shoulders will experience will be so much worse than someone cranking on it with a kimura. I know that my shoulders were damaged badly over the past 39 years with my striking work, because that was the main focus of my training for the first 20 years. You will cause yoruself a lot of problems trying to be a puncher.
    Damn...That is something that I wouldn't have considered. I'm not much of a striker because I prefer to avoid constant and repeated long term head trauma.

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  6. #6
    Thanks Cecil, that is exactly what I needed to hear. Sounds like its time for some rehab. Really appreciate the resources! I definitely would of thought I would have to go the striking route so your insight into actually having worse shoulder damage was an eye opener.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 45dotACP View Post
    Damn...That is something that I wouldn't have considered. I'm not much of a striker because I prefer to avoid constant and repeated long term head trauma.

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    My right shoulder is my "bad one". Since last year when I reinjured it and did good rehab work, my left has gone to pieces. 25 plus years of hitting bags, mits, etc and I will back Cecil up. After a long bag session, or a night really hitting mits and shields, my shoulders and elbows remind me I'm not 20 the next morning. The shock of the impact is tough on you after a while.

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  8. #8
    mama tried blues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shorikid View Post
    My right shoulder is my "bad one". Since last year when I reinjured it and did good rehab work, my left has gone to pieces. 25 plus years of hitting bags, mits, etc and I will back Cecil up. After a long bag session, or a night really hitting mits and shields, my shoulders and elbows remind me I'm not 20 the next morning. The shock of the impact is tough on you after a while.

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    Unrelated to martial arts, but the worst time it ever happened to me was while doing a hands only traverse during a face climb in the Shawangunks. Right shoulder just popped out and fortunately my left was strong enough to hold me while I regained my composure and found a handhold with the right at chest level with my right elbow tucked into my hip. Couldn't drive my stick shift home that night, but I felt pretty good that my climbing partner didn't have to arrest a fall while I was roped up.

    Dislocations are no joke.
    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu | "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson

  9. #9
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    I can’t even add anything, Cecil nailed it.

    Professional opinion > Strength Training > Speak with Instructor at a Reputable Academy

  10. #10
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    The only thing I can add to the excellent advice above is to get your physical therapy from whoever works with college or professional level athletes in your area. These are the people who:

    1) Have the highest expectations of success for you,

    2) Are capable of spotting the little differences in how the exercises are done that make a big difference in the result.

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