Bouncing back from injuries in Jiu-Jitsu

Bouncing back from injuries


Imagine that you are at the top of your competition game. You’re getting positive results and everything is cruising along, when suddenly you break your hand, whether in competition or training…You might start thinking: “I won’t be able to perform/train in the sport that I love, this sucks, a minor set back, but I will be back, I will be ok”.


Then six months later, you tear the Anterior Crucial Ligament, the famous ACL in your knee, which requires surgery. If you’ve had any procedure done before you know it affects your energy, your mood, and anyone can get caught up in the negativity, uncertainty, and doubts. But in the beginning, you’re able to stay positive.


After complications with your first surgery, you go through with another surgery. The recovery time is about six to nine months. By now negative thoughts are starting to rush in. “Can I do this?”, “Will I be able to come back the same?”You keep working hard, being positive, you persevere and when you are about to compete again you tear your groin muscle. At this point, you ask yourself “what else?”


Three years go by, and you finally have a chance to compete again, and you win! You’re feeling so fulfilled that you were able to recover from three years of non –stop injuries and it happens again…

You tear your ACL on the OTHER knee. What would you do? Would you continue or would you stop?


This is the true story of current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. After so many setbacks, he came back and on January 17th, 2016 he defeated the former champion, TJ Dillashaw, also an amazing fighter, by split decision.



Some people may say: “Ah but he is a professional fighter AND that’s his job.”


Regardless of the level, pro or not, related to sports or not, the internal mental battle that this human being is going through has to be overwhelming.


If you are going through this right now or you know someone who might be going through a hard time mentally, it’s difficult building your confidence back. I’m going to share with you three key elements that Dominick Cruz utilized to overcome his major setbacks and hopefully these elements can help you or someone that you know to overcome theirs.


1-Focus on what you can control

“The fact can not be changed, only your response to the fact can be changed.” He accepted the fact that the injury happened, and the only way for him to get better was to focus on what he could control, which was his re-habilitation. An example of something that you can’t control is assumptions – “Am I ever going to get better?”


This will lead to anxiety and possibly depression. Do the best you can to turn your negative into a positive, which is the second key element.


2- Turn the negative into a positive situation.


Dominick utilized his downtime to work on himself internally. In an interview with Bleacher Report, he said: “I realized I needed to focus on other aspects of my life if I was ever going to fight or compete again, much less live a happy life,” shared Cruz


I imagine that his internal dialogue went something like this when it came to reframing his situation:


“This is terrible that I’m going through something like this. When will this ever end????”


When you start to work on yourself internally, you MUST recognize this inner dialogue. I’m sure Dominick started to reframe/reverse/backtrack this to the following:


It’s a learning experience for me to be going through these ups and downs. Life is hard and if you want something bad enough there will be tests to see how bad do you want this? I’ve learned so much about myself in the past few months. This is definitely a learning experience for me.”


I encourage YOU to start thinking differently. Reframe the “I should” to “I could” reframe the “I hope” to “I know” etc.


He also re-evaluated his beliefs, and whatever was good and was working he kept it, and whatever was not he re-framed and you should do the same.


Turn the negative situation into a positive. Utilize this time for self-reflection, ask yourself:


“What beliefs are helping me towards my injury recovery or in a bigger picture, towards living a fulfilling life?”


Identify those beliefs to make sure that you stick with them. Now ask:


“What beliefs are holding me back or moving me away from my injury recovery, or again in a bigger picture, holding me from even living a fulfilling life?”


What necessary changes and adjustments will be necessary in order to achieve the success you desire? That is why is so important to invest in yourself. Attend Personal Development seminars, listen to audiobooks and podcasts that share information about growth, read books, watch videos…anything that can give you more clarity on your vision. Like Tony Robbins says: “It doesn’t take long to change, what takes the longest is having the clarity to change it”, because when you do, you basically flip a switch and change beliefs all based on your experiences, positive or negative.


Your basic values such as integrity, trust, and honor don’t change. But opinions and beliefs change all the time. There are plenty of things that you used to believe but you had some experience, positive or negative, and you told a new story to yourself based on your current knowledge and values, and changed the belief or the idea.


Take this time to start brainwashing yourself.


“Gustavo, did you say brainwash myself?”


It’s all about perception. Brainwash can be bad, but it can be good. If you fill your mind up with a cluster of negative junk, yes it’s a bad brainwash, but what about if you brainwash yourself with positive information. Your mindset will change for the better, and you will build your self-confidence and believe that you can overcome all obstacles and adversities, which is the third key element.


3- Believe.


Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. We all believe in the stories we tell ourselves.


Imagine you are recovering from injuries, you’re going through your internal battles, and suddenly you start to receive twitter messages like:


“You can’t do anything, your knees are too thin, you won’t be back”.


People, who have no level of empathy, have no clue or self-awareness of what it’s like to be in their shoes for the day.


Would you go this far out of the way to offend someone?


The good thing is that Dominick didn’t hear the stories that others were trying to tell him, he believed in the positive stories that HE was telling himself, that he was going to recover and go after his goal again.


What stories have people been telling you that you have accepted and embraced? But mainly, what stories have YOU been telling yourself that have been holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself in all areas of your life? Remember one thing: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”Eleanor Roosevelt


If you use these three keys elements daily in any area of your life: Focus on things that you can control, turn the negative into the positive and to believe, you will have better others of achieving the success you desire in your life.


Would you like to take your mindset to another level? Check out 

Leave a Reply