EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to the athlete journal of James Kearns. James is an active Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and also trains and competes in Olympic weightlifting. Learn more about James at his website, BJJ Barbell Strength, and follow his journals here every week.


Athlete Journal Entry 11 - 3/19/2014


I didn’t see that one coming. This past Saturday I had another competition in Philadelphia. This time, it was a submission-only tournament that for some reason had timed rounds. My very first match went about 4.5 minutes until I submitted from injury. 


Breaking Muscle Shop

My opponent was a handful, but I felt good until I got swept and felt a big pop in my chest. I knew instantly that the match was over and there was nothing that I could do. I don’t remember if I tapped or verbally submitted. All I can remember is being in an unbelievable amount of pain. It was a few minutes until I was able to be helped up to my feet and walked off the mat, which was extremely embarrassing. I was set down in a chair and looked at by the emergency medical technician who was on hand.


I could not believe how much pain I was in. I was having trouble breathing and there was something moving up and down behind my ribs. The first thought from me and everyone else there was that I cracked a rib. The concern was that I had broken a rib and punctured a lung. I wasn’t worried about the broken rib, but even I wasn’t dumb enough to risk dying from a punctured lung. Since I was competing by myself, the owner of the The Good Fight, which is the name of the promotion, graciously drove me to the emergency room and later picked me up.



I was extremely thankful when I got the diagnosis from the doctor. She explained that it was not a broken rib, but I just pulled a muscle in my stomach wall. This was good to hear because the recovery time for this injury will only be a few weeks, which still sucks, but is a lot better than a few months. I have had the misfortune of suffering an intercostal muscle tear, some broken fingers and toes, compartment syndrome in both calf muscles, a hernia, and an artery bypass in my leg, but this has been one of the most painful injuries to date. But it could be worse, and I am thankful.


Despite my less-than-productive performance, I did take away two important things from this tournament. First, I am not going to compete by myself anymore. If there is no one else from my team competing, then I will just have to wait for the next event. This is something I’ve never considered before, but when I got hurt and was not physically able to drive, I had to rely on someone I never met before to drive me to the hospital, and that wasn’t fair to him.


Second, I need to move down a weight class. This is something I have thought about for a while, and this past weekend was the deciding factor. I have always competed in the 222-lb weight class or the super heavyweight class, and I am just not naturally that big. I don’t have that big of a frame, and my body seems like it is starting to let me down competing against guys who are naturally 220-300lb. When I was competing in professional mixed martial arts a few years ago, I fought at 185lb and considered fighting at 170lb, so getting down to about 208lb won’t be hard at all. This is a much more natural weight and is probably healthier too. Hopefully moving down a class will also prevent some of these injuries I’ve been suffering.


As I stated earlier, I will be out for a few weeks. This means that competing in Boston in three weeks will be tough, but as of right now, I still plan on competing there and then in New York the following week. All I have to do right now is not move and heal up.

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