Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whose responsibility is it?

Hi all!  Coming to you from NY and sorry for not having posted in a bit.  IVF is going well-- surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning to remove the eggs, hooray!  My ovaries are each about softball-sized right now and I'm feeling like I ate two Thanksgivings.  Oy!  So after this, I will go home and recover, and take some super-serious anti-immune-problem medications, and prepare for an embryo transfer in a month or three.  (In the meantime my embryos will be vitrified at the lab.)

In the meantime, I'm going to take a huge risk and post a comment here on my blog regarding something I read elsewhere which was brought to my attention by a friend.  I couldn't comment on the original site (maybe I'm just dense, couldn't find the comment spot!)

The post is here: http://gi3girls.com/2012/06/im-a-bjj-practitionerand-a-girl/.  By the way, congrats to Jen, the author, on her brown belt which is well-earned and deserved.

Here's my comment.. whose responsibility is it to protect training partners in that situation?

And here's my thought:  while the person who launched into some kind of flying kimura was clearly taking things too far... and while it sucks to be promoted right before Mundials especially via a tough-as-nails belt challenge like this... it's ALWAYS ultimately OUR responsibility to protect OURSELVES by tapping.  (Not that Jen could have tapped in time given the description of that flying kimura!  but perhaps she could have tapped in many other rolls after that?) As soon as you are injured, you tap.  There are no points for "winning" in the academy.  There is only learning.  If people allow their pride and determination to continue to force themselves into positions where they worsen their injuries, that is THEIR  fault because training partners can't be expected to read their mind. 

Your thoughts?


HomeImprovementNinja said...

I gotta agree. Unless we're talking about someone doing an illegal technique (like slamming from guard, which has happened to me), or it's a move that the person can't release quickly even if you tap, it's on you to tap. I've broken fingers and toes, injured ribs, and had every joint imaginable on ice at one point or another, but those are my fault. If i'm being stacked awkwardly by someone who is bigger than me I have to decide if i want to keep working the technique and put myself in danger or tap and start over. If I choose the former it's on me.

As I get older I increasingly choose the latter. Breaking something and going through recovery and physical therapy sux, and as you get older it takes longer and stuff never goes to 100% the way it was before, so you have to keep in mind who you are what your goal is. I'm coming up on my 42nd birthday and my goal is to practice for as long as I can and improve steadilly, so i roll and tap accordingly.

SavageKitsune said...

It's hard to judge from a secondhand description of the situation, but it does sound like the blue belt in question went for a sub in a way that was not fully controlled.

Of course accidents happen, and he was *supposed* to be going kind of hard because it was a test, and sometimes we get a little sloppy with the people who outrank us because we're thinking (consciously or subconsciously) that 1)what we're trying isn't going to work on them or/and 2)they're so advanced that they can protect themselves adequately.

But I try to stay controlled at all times. It's their responsibility to tap- but if I slam a sub on too hard and fast and they don't have time to tap, that's my fault. If it's uncontrolled, then there's too much danger of it being too hard and fast- that's why it has to be controlled.

SavageKitsune said...

I'll also note that when I was a white belt, I rolled too early after a rib injury, and a guy accidentally hurt me. He was annoyed with me after he found out I had a rib injury- "You should have told me!" and he was right.

I would have been annoyed with the poster if she rolled with me when she had a torn shoulder, and didn't tell me. If I hurt her worse, I'd feel terrible, but I'd also feel like it was her fault for not telling me. I want to know if you have a torn shoulder, so that I know to not yank on it.

In my former kung fu class, when we did striking drills and sparring, I would sometimes pause and ask my partner, "How's this intensity? Is this okay?" There was one particular classmate who- no matter how hard I hit her- would never tell me to ease up. Thus I did not know how hard I could safely hit her. I was very uncomfortable working with her because I couldn't figure out where the boundaries were and couldn't trust her to communicate about them. All I could really do (I would have avoided working with her altogether if I could have, but the class was too small) was to hit her incredibly gently because that was the only way I could be sure it was okay.

To work safely with others in the martial arts, you have to have good communication and know where the boundaries are.

SavageKitsune said...

If I see that someone has a wrist taped or a brace on their knee, I'll ask about it- and it annoys the crap out of me if they say "Don't worry about it, just roll." I am not a douchebag and I am not gonna crank on somebody's sprained wrist. If you won't tell me WTF is going on with your wrist, I don't know how careful I need to be, so I am not going to touch it at all and I'm going to be going light with you and just letting you tool me, because I'm scared of hurting you. Then I'll go find somebody else to roll with who will communicate better about boundaries.

Monkey said...

If I have enough time to see a submission or dangerous situation coming, ie my partner is controlled, then it is completely up to me to keep myself safe.

However, if my training partner has it in their mind to go hard or to beat me (while training) that person needs to take a second thought about what it means to be training partners. Especially if they go hard right off the bat and I don't have a chance to ask them to slow down.

In a belt test situation, I dunno.

However, continuing to roll once injured is unwise since you don't know how badly you are hurt or how badly you'll injure yourself further.

Anonymous said...

Some people need to be protected from themselves. Honestly, someone should have kicked her off the mat, belt test or not.

I get why she wanted to "play through" the injury, heck I've done it before, but it's stupid. The only thing you can possibly achieve is make it worse.

What if she had a tear that wouldn't need surgery, then during the rest of those rolls she made it bad enough to need it?

"..there was no way I could go through another surgery and continue doing Jiu-Jitsu"

What if your stubbornness just put you in that position when you wouldn't have been there in the first place?

SL Chan said...

I don't agree with the belief that the onus should be on the person getting submitted and that an early tap would solve it. Sometimes it's hard to tap when the guys are yanking submissions (and in essence not giving you time to tap) like for example mount armbar and they just go right into it or a kimura from side mount and they just yank your arm out. In these situations it's a bit hard to say who's at fault, your fault for not tapping (or not even being allowed to tap)? Or a guy who doesn't know his own strength for tapping.

Anyway I have a mindset when I roll with bigger/stronger guys, I don't really go for submissions as odd as it sounds. Depending on the guy, I usually just play positions and look to advance my position or if the guy is aggressive, I play defense and make sure they aren't advancing their position. If the guy is getting too aggressive, I try to tone down the pace but being slower (but still clamping and having my grips) and putting them in stalling positions to slow the pace (i.e body triangle, overwrap grip in close guard, octopus guard in close guard, etc...). I find that usually they'll get the hint when you do that. I also never go aggressive with them at all (whether it's via speed or strength) I just take it slow and work on my grips. I guess the trick is to feel like a non-aggressive challenge, they don't feel like they can get submitted but at the same time you don't let them get better positions.

I may try a couple of submissions here and there but I don't necessarily yank them in unless it's right in my face and I can't help but go for it. I find that guys are more accepting of a girl getting better positions (even mount!!!) than they are at getting submitted by a girl. I hate it when I get a submission and they go all apeshit on me after that and than I can't control the power or explosiveness and than I get screwed over by getting injured. To me this is not worth getting a submission.

It's gotten me pretty injury free so far from careless submissions but at the same time I am aware that it has hindered my perceptiveness to getting submissions in my rolls.

I don't do this with all guys but only the lower level bigger guys (68 kilos and above) or the really aggressive guys. If the guy is not so aggressive or has a similar body type (thankfully in Asia, we can get guys who are 64 kilos and under! hooray!!!) I just roll normally.

Georgette said...

Good points, SuLing... what about in this situation though? If you're already injured, but refuse to sit out, and use anger to get you through? Thankfully not a situation we commonly encounter! I would have hated to be one of those guys later, and realize that my partner-opponent was hurt, didn't tell me, and my trust in them to let me know when enough's enough was possibly causing me to make it worse or at least give them such an unhappy experience... woo :)

Georgette said...

Good points, SuLing... what about in this situation though? If you're already injured, but refuse to sit out, and use anger to get you through? Thankfully not a situation we commonly encounter! I would have hated to be one of those guys later, and realize that my partner-opponent was hurt, didn't tell me, and my trust in them to let me know when enough's enough was possibly causing me to make it worse or at least give them such an unhappy experience... woo :)

Anonymous said...

I disagree that it is every individual's responsibility to protect themselves, but that one should do so anyway. It is the instructor's responsibility to keep the class as safe as possible, but this is a rough sport, and injuries will happen despite best (or not best) efforts. Each person should endeavor not to injure their partner because that's the right thing to do, but may not be able to because of their ability, state of mind, or inadvertently moving badly etc. . . That's why each person should also endeavor to protect him or herself, because it's just Freaking Good Sense! Because who are you responsible to for your own safety, after all? Only yourself! And your family, if they depend on your good health. So it's not a responsibility. It's an exercise of good judgement.

In answer to Georgette's question to SuLing, if I were one of those guys in this case:
I'd be angry.
I would think my partner-opponent was an immature idiot for acting this way.
I would try not to feel guilty about it unless I had reason at the time to believe that it should have been stopped and I didn't take action. In this case, if she is hiding the extent of the injury and continues to train. . . ,
She is not only hurting herself, she is taking advantage of others by involving them in the injury.
I do not practice jiu jitsu in order to injure innocent people, especially those weaker than myself.
That is dishonorable.
I agree with a previous Anony that she needed to be protected from herself. The person most qualified to notice this and do something about it is the instructor, though if anyone had done so, it would have certainly been appropriate.

SL Chan said...

Hmm in this situation I think it's better to have sit out. I won't lie but I have been in this situation before where I've used my anger before to control a roll and I hate myself usually after it!!!! I feel so horrible and guilty. I usually get angry when I feel a guy is going super aggressive with me and I wasn't being aggressive at all i.e. One situation I was slammed on my back because I slapped on a high mount/diamond triangle guard (but my leg wasn't across the back of their neck so no threat of a triangle) than I kinda lost it. =X

Usually I will stop the roll after the first 1-2 minutes of anger because it's not productive and doesn't bring anything to the table. And even though I roll fantastic during that 1-2 minutes (I get a lot faster, quicker, stronger, all that adrenaline running through me) it's not worth the risk of injury....

Going back to the situation, totally agree with you about how it's also not fair rolling angry with people who did nothing to you and didn't know that they you were injured.

JBird said...

Honestly, this sounds like everyone involved deserves a black belt in bad decisions.

From the choice of test, to the blue belt going monkey-style, to the individual being tested "showing heart", this post just reads like one disaster after another.

True, better communication or swallowing of pride MAY have averted disaster, and the fault of the injury may be placed at the feet of the author, but I don't know that ultimately it isn't the fault of that type of belt test itself.

Please know that I am not against testing, but instead would argue that this type of survival testing thing can be used to further someone in a training scenario more than in a testing scenario, where nerves and adrenaline are at a much higher level.

I know that this instance is just a 1/1,000 mishap, but it could have been avoided:

(1)She should have tapped out of the testing after the injury.
(2)The douche canoe that did the Matrix move should have known better.
(3) Instructor should have known that his student was injured prior and communicated that with the class
(4) Just not have these types of tests at all.

Rita said...

I think the point of the article was to stress the importance of controlled submissions and being aware of strength and weight differences, rather than whether or not she should have kept rolling (that's another debate).

I don't agree Jen should have kept rolling after getting hurt, and maybe that's how she feels looking back, but I can understand how she felt and probably didn't fully recognize the extent of her injury. It was her brown belt initiation so there were other factors convincing her that her shoulder wasn't as bad as she thought and she should keep going. I mean it's hard to evaluate an injury with the whole class watching and not a minute of rest between rolls!

Regardless I can completely relate to her frustrations as a fellow pluma rolling with training partners being oblivious to the size and strength difference, especially the guys in the 150 lb area. These guys have the mindset that they are the smallest in the club and are used to using full out strength against everyone because of it. I've had a guy who was 30 lbs heavier than me say "wow it's so nice to roll with someone my size for a change!". These are the guys who yank your limbs as hard as they can because the larger guys are able to resist it with their strength advantages. Problem is when they go against weaker people they consider "their size", injuries are likely to happen. I'm not talking about accidents, I'm talking about injuries that could have been prevented by partners respecting each other.

I think it's important for training to be safe and there is no reason anyone should ever feel the need to crank a shoulder or neck or wrist, etc. If you legitimately have the submission because you executed the technique properly, you can control the submission and no one gets hurt. I think this is the author's issue, since she is advanced, certain training partners cannot set up the technique properly, and will pounce on the opportunity to crank a submission on her because who knows when they will get another chance. It's all ego.

This does not mean guys should go "easier" on girls, just be aware of strength differences so no one gets hurt. We still need our competition training where we want to go hard, but this can still be accomplished safely. For the 140 lb to 150 lb guys out there, just imagine if you were so small your only good training partners close to your size were 180-200 lbs. How would you want them to train with you so you still got hard rolls in without getting hurt? We are all trying to help each other out as training partners so please save the uncontrolled submissions for your rivals in competition!

jimmyDean101 said...

I think the whole thing turned out pretty shitty. She was trying to do her best and got messed up in the process. The Blue Belt shouldn't have tried such an aggressive move, especially since the line between safely executing it and causing harm was so thin.

I don't believe she should have continued, but caught up in the moment I can understand. She has obviously committed a good portion of her life to this pursuit so it seemed to her it would be giving up otherwise.

I'm just sorry to hear she got hurt.

Liam H Wandi said...

When someone is injured in BJJ then who loses? Everyone. (Injured, not hurt. Pain / discomfort is ok, it's part of the nature of Jiu jitsu, but injury doesn't have to be).

That's how i see it. When I'm injured, the whole community of BJJ loses a little. When you are injured, we all lose. When anyone person is injured, we all lose a little.

Therefore, by a process of logical deduction, I feel it is everyone's responsibility to work very hard to avoid injury.

Instructors: must spend time EVERY SINGLE SESSION highlighting that injuries are the one and only enemy in jiu jitsu.

senior students: make it clear to people you roll with both verbally and physically that no matter how hard you go, you will always aim to avoid injury. My own method of doing that is by always finishing techniques slowly and always gently touching the body part with my palm after the tap (elbow, neck, shoulder, ankle...etc.) to indicate in a physical manner that I care about them. I also start my rolls with people with a two hand warm and gentle hand shake that indicates that this is a club / academy / gym and not a battle field. these are just things I do personally :)

newer students: treat the gym as a haven. Be nice to everyone and come here to learn, learn and learn some more.

visitors / parents: do not coach aggressively from the side because this is, I say it again, not a battlefield!

Very nice post and some fantastic comments!!!

Anne said...

I agree 100% with the observations that this story reads like a series of bad decisions, resulting in a bjj horror story. Also, it is everyone's responsibility to keep other people safe on the mat. From the instructor to the other students - everyone has a role to play. However, we have to think about why we do bjj: do we do it so we can be mundial champions today? or so we can live to train again tomorrow? Sometimes those 2 goals do not match up. As for tapping, not only is it *your* responsibility to tap when you're injured, but more importantly, before you are injured, if this is possible.

Ruben said...

I can't stand spaztic training partners who have no regard for your safety. Yes, we are responsible for tapping, but there are always times where we don't have enough time to react. I avoid them like the plague.

Jenn F. said...

I agree that ultimately the responsibility is yours to tap, hopefully before an injury occurs. But I really felt for Jen when I read her post. I am just a new blue in BJJ but have done karate for 23 years. I did my 4th degree black belt test with an injured arm. The last day (there are 3) of our test also involved sparring everyone in the room (about 30 rounds) and although I was clearly only using one arm there were many people who were so wrapped up in their own thing they had no clue. Should I have said something? Probably. But I wanted to do my promotion to the best of my ability without making any excuses for myself. It ended up fine (I did not get any worse) but I still remember the one guy who kept kicking me in the head on the side of my body where I clearly could not raise my arm to protect myself. (I am still kind of mad at him!) I wrote my own blog post about paying attention in sparring. Here it is if anyone is interested: http://mamommyarchives.blogspot.com/2012/09/sparring-is-conversation-not-monologue.html

Kintanon said...

In the gym it is MY responsibility to insure my partners safety. I watch out of for them, I don't crank subs even if they aren't tapping, I don't do crazy shit that puts them at risk. Straight up. The responsibility is on ME not to injure my training partners no matter how dumb they are.

In competition it's the reverse. My opponent and the referee are responsible for his safety. If I'm omoplataing him and he refuses to tap and the ref doesn't stop it and I tear the guys arm to shreds then I don't feel bad about it. He had time and opportunity to tap and refused, it's on him.

If I did the same thing in the gym I would be a complete monster douchebag asshole and deserve to be beaten and thrown into the street.

Deborah Clem said...

Mmmm....It is our responsibility to tap, verbally and/or physically. But if a training partner is cranking a submission so hard and fast that even an early verbal/physical tap becomes a desperate cry, the person issuing the sub needs to be checked.

There is a guy like this in my school and I pretty much refuse to train with him anymore. When I have in the past, I have ALWAYS walked away with some annoying minor injury, and he treats every potential submission like a coked up speed contest. Noooo thanx.