If you ever spent much time in a martial arts school you may have observed that the least experienced students can be the most dangerous, both to themselves and others. A recent study from Brazil seems to substantiate this observation finding that in jiu jitsu the risk of concussion is greatest among the least experienced students.
In the study, titled Lower experience increases concussion susceptibility in Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners, the authors polled a total of 791 BJJ practitioners. Concussive injuries, symptoms and return to sport timelines were canvassed. When comparing the incidence of concussion with experience level the authors found the least experienced students suffered concussions with the most frequency and this declined with increasing experience.
The study’s full abstract reads as follows and the full study can be found here:
The present study is a descriptive-documental study that evaluates a survey database about Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ) practitioners and concussions. We investigate any relationship between lifetime practice and the incidence of concussions in adults. For this, an online survey composed of 17 questions was sent to 42 BJJ coaches. The Survey Monkey platform was used to host the survey. Some demographic data was collected, followed by questions related to the BJJ practice. A total of 791 practitioners had completed or partially answered the survey. The results show that concussions are more frequent at the beginner’s white 49.0% and blue belt 33.3% (p≤ 0.01). The symptom “seeing stars” showed a positive and significant correlation (r= 0.169, p≤ 0.002) with a white and blue belt. After a concussion, white and blue belts return faster than the others (χ 2 = 190.964; p≤ 0.01). White, blue, and purple belts are the least likely to seek medical care after a concussion (χ 2 = 14.874; p≤ 0.01). Together, our results showed the need for an educational intervention with the BJJ coaches and beginners regarding awareness about concussions and possible post-traumatic issues and creating procedures to deal with concussions in BJJ.