By three-times world jiu-jitsu champion Braulio Estima
The resilience that you learn in jiu-jitsu is a very useful lesson for the rest of your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a fair bit of success on the mats, but on the other side I’ve not been without my fair share of injuries, the worst of which was terrifying.
I fell on my head during a training session, causing a compression to my spine which left me on the floor unable to move. There was no pain, which was the most frightening part. and I had no idea whether I’d be able to move again.
My first thought was: will I ever be able to pick up my kids again? My second thought was: will I be able to fight again?
This was in 2010, the year before I was due to have a superfight with my toughest opponent, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza (pictured, right). I had competed against him four times, and had never even scored a single point. But my game was coming on, and I was confident the fifth time was going to be my time.
But then came this terrible neck injury. Thankfully I regained movement in my limbs, buy I had destroyed two vertebrae and doctors told me I would not be able to do any competitive sport again, let alone martial arts.
This was devastating for me. Not just because I love doing jiu-jitsu, but because it is part of my identity, it is who I am. Doctors kept telling me ‘no’, but I kept going until I found one that said ‘yes’.
The fifth specialist I went to agreed to do pioneering surgery on my damaged vertebrae. The operation was a success, but it was just eight months before my fight. Which meant four months of rehab with no jiu-jitsu, then just four months to train and be in the shape of my life.