Oh, Snap.

Last Monday, the 16th of June 2014, will now always be etched into my memory as the day that I accidentally did something I never thought I ever would, thanks to a completely freak accident: I broke someone’s arm.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, for those who aren’t aware, is a combat sport based primarily on the ground through submission grappling. I’m not a violent person, though I am guilty of a Raphael-esque short fuse, but I would never actively set out to hurt someone, let alone break their arm, especially when it comes to what is referred to as “The Gentle Art”, a sport I have great affection for. It instills a sense of discipline and pride whilst rolling (read: fighting) and has a heavy emphasis, as it should, on technique over strength; position, then submission. What I had managed to sink in was an incredibly sloppy Kimura lock, unlike the one on display in this photo:

I hadn’t been able to secure the position with my legs, allowing me to effectively control his posture. Because of this my opponent, an awesomely nice, massive hench example of a man mountain, Lee, was able to transition away by segueing his way around my head and around to the other side of my body. Instead of letting go of the Kimura however, I decided to hold on, transitioning the lock into an Americana, loose and sloppy as it was.  There was plenty of space for me to shrimp (hip escape) away, creating space and utilising it to get away from the aggressor, who was, undoubtedly Lee; I didn’t think I had him, Lee didn’t think I had him, everything was fine until the sickening ‘POP’ emenated from his arm.

The immediate look on my face most resembled this image:

Without a doubt, my eyes bulged out of my head as we processed the sound we just heard. Needless to say, I instantly let go of the hold and scooted away out from under him.

Having hurt my knee whilst exercising a few months ago, I knew that damage to limbs or joints don’t necessarily begin to hurt straight away. The mixture of adrenaline and the fact your body is currently ‘warm’ from all the exercise can lead you into deceptively believing you are fine. As soon as my knee cooled after my exercise was complete, it became twice the size it was meant to be and I wasn’t able to walk right for about three weeks. That’s three weeks without BJJ, and a hard three weeks it was; still attending class, but being unable to join in and participate is a killer. My knee still makes odd clicking noises on occasion.

Knowing this, however, I insisted the damage could be present, but not noticeable. Lee then went on to do a couple of press ups, proving that, if there was a break, he wouldn’t be able to put any pressure on it. A fair point, to a degree. Lee is an incredibly well built guy, with what seem to be 24″ Pythons and thick forearms to boot, so it’s not outside the realm of believability to consider that the muscle was doing all the work for him at that point, safely packaging the bone. Within minutes of his subsequent roll with another opponent, Lee found himself having to step off the mats to rest it. The next day he was in the hospital and in a cast. I only found out on Wednesday at the next BJJ class, and I still feel terrible about it. Probably always will.

My instructor, Dave, gave a pertinent speech about the importance of looking after one another; how we’re entering into an unspoken bond with an opponent, a training partner, to, yes, be competitive, but to also be safe: it’s only training, after all. But that’s what makes the situation all the worse: the freak nature of the accident. I held on for the ride, but I wasn’t cranking, and Lee obviously wasn’t in any discernible pain to tap out before the snap occurred. Accidents happen in every walk of life, but I hate the fact that Lee will be off the mats for ‘x’ amount of weeks/months because of it. He’s a cool dude, and he knows it was an accident, and so isn’t attributing any blame on himself or myself; I don’t think I would be so understanding, I would have to try and blame someone or something outside of chalking it up to shitty luck.

But here’s to you, Lee! Sorry about your arm, and I hope you heal quickly and get back to the mats ASAP. Thank you for being so understanding and not simply wallowing in anger, which would surely be the easier option. It’s a testament to your personality and character, bud.

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