Distal Bicep Tendon Rupture – 11th week post surgery

I’m now on the 11th week since my left distal bicep tendon was reattached to the forearm bone. Judo-wise I’ve been consuming instructional videos from quite heavily. It’s been great for keeping my head in the game. I haven’t visited my Judo dojo other than to watch my kids doing it because it’s quite far away and because the vibe is a little different from the BJJ place I’m still frequenting.

Watching videos creates this illusory effect where I presume what I’m seeing will instantly reflect into my technique. That with shadow practice I’ll be able to do all these techniques easily when I train again and proceed to dominate all opponents – yeah right! To remedy this, I’ve been watching videos of senior male judo competitions that British Judo releases every so often on Youtube, an example is this one from 2019: The competitors may be up-and-comers but they’re far stronger than me, fitter and more accomplished. They bring the point home that learning a few good combos or techniques 90% of the time doesn’t work off the bat with a resisting opponent.

The Scrap and the Scramble

It’s quite fascinating to see when things turn scrappy, when technique takes a back-seat and the opponents rely on power to impose their will and gameplan. A similar effect happens with BJJ and it’s called a ‘scramble’. This is effectively the point where either the opponents are in unfamiliar or unwanted territory. Someone once said that there’s no such thing as a scramble (and I think it was Rob Biernacki but apologies if I’ve misreferenced that quote). That somehow the scramble is part of your game-plan whether you’re aware of it or not, and that it’s a good reference point. From there you can take note of what led you to that scramble/scrap point and research some options you can use to take advantage of that point. This is simpler in BJJ because the action goes so much slower – in Judo the action is so lightning quick that you really need to be paying attention!

A reflection of Uke-ing for others

On the topic of resisting opponents, I’ve been reflecting on the topic of ‘feel’. When I’ve been someone’s uke in the past I’ve been able to read the thrower for their personality traits and objectives. The tell-tale sign of a true egotist is when, during tachi waza practice they will body slam me when we’re not using crash mats – granted this is obvious. Then there are those who deliberate over their hand/foot movements even pause at brief moments and start again. Or they look for ways to make the throw as effortless (and painless to uke) as possible, the idea being if you can pull of an excellent text-book throw the uke will fall in a fluid/flow-like fashion – it’s this type of practice that I aspire to. Too much gung-ho or jerky movements betray a lack in confidence (guys, it’s only practice!).

About the arm

At this 11-week mark I can manoeuvre it about as before. It’s disconcerting to hear some feint clicking when I straighten it but the last physiotherapist I spoke with said this was normal. Up until a week ago I’d feel pain at the surgery spot when I’d ride a bicycle but this seems to have gone. Any minor pain that comes up through medium-level use (ie. lifting small weights) is very minor. I’d love to start bicep curling but given this is uncharted territory for me I’m waiting for the professionals to say when. On the internet I found one chap had started bicep curling with light weights after the second month, which my last physio said was a no-no. It’s a bit dissapointing that there’s no consensus really. I would have loved to document my recovery process so there could be more research, to benefit people later down the line. Anyhoos.

Next week I hit the 3 month mark and my first proper physiotherapy session will begin. Given I’m gagging to get back into things I’ve been involving myself in the BJJ warmups. This has felt more exciting than it should, and I’m desperately longing to get back in a gi!

I’ve been watching a couple of Judofanatics videos on Ashi Waza (one from Shintaro Higashi and another from Travis Stevens). It’s given me some wonderful food for thought, and I’ve been shadow drilling the foot/hand work to increase familiarity. This will be the topic of a future blog article.

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