Grappling Injuries

Cauliflower Ears

Someone asked me the other day what a cauliflower ear is. Many people get a cauliflower ear from the constant hitting and rubbing on the ear from doing judo, bjj, wrestling or sticking your head in a rugby scrum.

A Cauliflower ear is simply a bruise (or hematoma) that doesn't heal. Your ear is made up of cartilage and when you get a hit or knock to the ear blood enters you ear and becomes stuck in between the cartilage. If the blood cannot drain and get out of the ear then it will set and go hard.

As the blood in the ear starts going hard the cartilage will start to shrivel and fold a little bit which is why the ear looks similar to a cauliflower. The pic below is before i got my ear drained by a syringe.

The doctor will put a local anesthetic on your ear and then stick a syringe in and suck out all the blood that's stuck in there. If you do this straight away before the cartilage is damaged then your ear will remain the same. If you don't drain is straight away the blood will go hard, once this happens you are unable to drain the blood out and the only way to fix it is to get an operation.

Many people believe that you get a cauliflower from 1 hit, but that is very rare. M,ost players get their caulis from training 6 days a week and the ears are constantly getting hit and bumped, hence why the more experienced and serious judo players get caulis while the recreational stay happy as larry.

You can wear some headgear called cauli stoppers to prevent a cauli ear (but who wants to wear headgear forever?)

The headgear is great but in the end if you train all the time at a high intensity you will probably get a cauli somewhere on your ear.

Here is my ear after it was drained a few times but because i kept on training my ear kept refilling with blood and was getting semi hard. The Dr said that he couldn't pierce my ear with the syringe so you can see where he cut it with a knife to remove the blood.

If you look at the above picture and then the picture below you can see how the ear has kind of shrivelled a little bit and has a weird shape about it. That's what happens when the cartilage dies.

So my ears are a little strange and mostly i they don't really get noticed by people very often which is ok but if i go into primary schools or do a few tours at the AIS kids notice straight away because if they don't know you they study everything about you and pick up on it pretty quick.

Turf Toe

What is a Turf Toe
Turf toe is a condition of pain at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot. The condition is usually caused from either jamming the toe, or pushing off repeatedly when running or jumping. The most common complaint is pain at the base of the toe, but you may also have symptoms of stiffness and swelling.

Causes of Turf Toe:
The name "turf toe" comes from the fact that this injury is especially common among athletes who play on artificial turf. The hard surface of artificial turf, combined with running and jumping in football and soccer. This injury is also common among judo, wrestling and bjj when a particpant either when avoiding a technique or footsweep may stub their toe on either the mat or their opponent.

Effects on the Toe:
When a player sustains a turf toe injury, they are actually tearing the capsule that surrounds the joint at the base of the toe. Tearing this joint capsule can be extremely painful. Furthermore, tears of the joint capsule can lead to instability and even dislocation of the joint at the base of the toe. This can cause accelerated cartilage wear and arthritis of the big toe (hallux rigidus).

Diagnosis of Turf Toe:
Turf toe is diagnosed based primarily on the physical examination of the patient. Making the diagnosis of turf toe is not difficult, but x-rays may be taken to ensure there is no fracture or evidence of arthritis.

Treatment Options:
Treatment of turf toe consists of controlling the inflammation of the joint capsule. The most important aspect of treatment is to rest the sore toe to allow the inflammation to subside and the joint capsule to heal. In addition to resting the toe, inflammation can be controlled by icing the area, and elevating the foot, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Don't Play Sports With Turf Toe:
Athletes diagnosed with turf toe should avoid their sport at least three weeks to allow the joint capsule to heal. Without doing so, the injury can progress, and can lead to an even longer recuperation. It is not uncommon for athletes to try to come back too soon, or to try to play through the injury. Unfortunately, this usually leads to a more chronic injury, and ultimately a longer recovery.

Long-Term Outlook:
Turf toe can return, especially in athletes that try to come back to sports before adequate healing. Once returning to activities, special footwear inserts can be used to limit the motion of the big toe and prevent further damage to the joint capsule.
For grapplers it is reccommended to strap the injured toe using the following method:

Info taken from

Jersey Finger

What is it?
A jersey finger is an injury to one of the the finger tendons. Typically, an athlete will sustain a jersey finger while participating in tackling sports such as Rugby, Judo or BJJ. The injuries are usually sustained while an athlete is grasping a player's jersey (when attempting a tackle in rugby) or during intense grip fighting in Judo and BJJ.

The injury usually ovccurs when a finger becomes stuck in the gi or jersey and then having the material being quickly ripped away.
A jersey finger is an injury to the flexor tendon of the finger. The flexor tendon pulls the finger down into the palm as you contract the flexor muscles of the forearm. The injury occurs at the tip of the finger, and typically the tendon snaps back to the base of the finger or even into the palm of the hand.

Symptoms of a Jersey Finger
An athlete who has sustained a jersey finger will be unable to bend the finger down into the palm of the hand. This is usually an obvious injury as the fingers normally rest in a partly flexed position. If you set your hand on the table at rest, the normal posture of the hand is a position similar to if you were to be holding a glass. The reason is that the tendons flexing (bending) and extending (straightening) your finger are balanced. Therefore the finger assumes this partly bent position. When the flexor tendon is injured, the finger will straighten excessively at rest. At rest, patients with a jersey finger will notice one finger straightened out unexpectedly.

Treatment of a Jersey Finger
There are a few different ways you can treat jersey finger depending on how bad a tear you have sustained. If you have completely torn the tendon then surgery is the best option to repaid the injury.
If you have only suffered a sprain or slight tear you may be able to tape your finger to prevent the finger from fully flexing and fully straightening. You may also want to ‘buddy tape’ your fingers (meaning you tape the injured finger to the finger next to it) and this will help the finger not become stuck in the gi or jumper while applying a technique.

For more Grappling injuries visit my grappling injuries page on the right.

Dislocated Finger

Finger dislocation is a common injury. It occurs when the bones of the finger are moved (dislocated) from their normal position. Finger dislocation can occur in any of the joints of any finger, but it occurs most often in the middle knuckle of the little, ring, middle, or index finger.

Accidents can cause a "jamming" force to be applied to the end of the finger, or the finger may be forcefully overextended. Either of these situations, or a combination of both, can result in a dislocation. Most common causes are getting your finger caught in your opponents gi or slamming your finger onto the mat and stubbing it.

It is not recommended that you treat a dislocated finger at home. A visit to your doctor or the emergency department is usually necessary.
If you have a dislocated finger, the finger will swell. To prevent further injury to the finger, immediately remove any jewelry, such as rings. Also apply an ice pack to your injured finger and elevate the hand above the level of your heart.

To prevent your finger being dislocated while grappling make sure you remove all rings and jewellery and maybe tape you fingers, this will help them be 'stronger' if you may injure it.

A dislocated finger may take anywhere from3 to 6 weeks to heal. make sure you continue to ice the finger and the doctor may subscribe anti inflams to help reduce swelling. To help the finger not lose any mobility or strength the doctor may give you exercises to perform.

For more info head to:

If you have been doing Judo longer than a week you have probably already suffered a nicer shin clash or foot sweep gone wrong and received a nice bruise on the shin or ankle.
this article is not on how to foot sweep properly (make sure your turn your foot) but on what a bruise is and what you can do to treat a bruise or even prevent them happening in training.

What is a bruise?
A bruise occurs when a part of your body is struck by something (eg a badly timed/executed foot-sweep in Judo). When the muscle fibres and capillaries are hit they become crushed and blood from the crushed capillaries leak out and get stuck under the skin, forming a bruise.

How to treat a brusie?
To treat a bruise it is important to ice it. Icing your bruise induces vaso-constriction (blood cells closing), this will help stop the amount of blood that is flowing to the area, thus making the bruise smaller. If the bruise is quite big or painful you can also elevate it above your heart to decrease blood flow to the area.

How to prevent a bruise?
Firstly, make sure you footsweep properly by turning your foot and sweeping with the flat of your foot. To prevent fellow Judokas from cracking you in the shins you can buy some soft shin pads and wear them at training. This will prevent the impact from a stray footsweep.
Yuo can buy some shin pads from  just follow the link below