Getting smashed in the head might not be good for you!

January 22, 2010

Who would have thought?

The evidence seems to indicate that getting your bell rung or being lit up a bit could be worse for you than you might think. MMA is an aggressive sport, where toughness is held in the highest record. An athlete can be a total dunger skill wise but if he is tough he/she will be respected to a degree.

With our fight team guys  we have an environment where weakness is not tolerated. Those who sit out rounds of sparring are encouraged to “man the fuck up”. Those complaining or bring in a negative attitude are usually ridiculed and injuries need to be pretty serious before anyone takes notice.

Note: the above description is what the pro fighters get to experience. We are much more friendly and helpful to everyone else.

This environment has bred the countries top fighters in pretty much every weight class. Sparring in this environment can be intense, physically demanding and really freaking sore. In the past we have had guys getting dropped, KOed and dazed. This is never the aim of the sparring but has occured as a consequence of this environment. I am sure we have had concussions in the past and I am increasingly concerned for what the long term effects could be

Check ou theses stories for some scary stuff

‘I don’t want anyone to end up like me’

Plagued by post-concussion syndrome and battling an amphetamine addiction, former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson is a shell of his former self


Head Games

Having read Christopher Nowinski’s book about the concussion crisis in American Football, Head Games, I started to think about the long term effects of getting regularly punched in the face.

The books premise was that concussions are bad news. Multiple concussions are really bad and getting concussed while having symptoms of a previous concussion is really freaking unhelpful.

Using anecdotal evidence and autopsy reports we start to see why so many Boxers, American footballers etc are changed by their careers. The suggested effects range from memory impairment to personality disorders from migraines to depression and oh yeah being dead.

Muhammad Ali has Parkinsons Disease and he was freaking awesome, spare a thought for all the other guys on the lower rungs who had to fight the best facial punchers in the world.

What is a Concussion?

If I where to ask any of the guys at my gym if they had ever been concussed I dont think I would find 10 guys saying yes. If I asked the same people how many of you have been “KOed”, “dropped”, “Rattled” or “sparked” the number may be higher.

The problem is in the defination and diagnosis. Unless there is a loss of consciousness or memory loss a concussion is hard to spot.


A concussion results from a significant blow to the head. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include:

  • Headache
  • Memory loss (amnesia) of events surrounding the injury
  • Loss of conciousness
  • Sensation of being Stunned
  • Wooziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Unsteadiness
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Lethargy
  • Personality change
  • Convulsions
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Muscle weakness on one or both sides
  • Persistent confusion
  • Persistent unconsciousness (coma)
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unequal pupils
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking problems

If any of this has occured after taking head shots chances are that you may be dealing with a concussion.

So What Can you do?

For a start coaches need to take this more seriously. Fight Teams revel in the fact that there training is full of carnage but we are dealing with brain injury here and that fact should be respected.

Coaches need to be watching for the signs and symptoms outlined above. They also have to be aware of the fact that fighters are stupid as shit and lie all the time.

Coach: you ok?

Fighter: Im fine coach

Coach: are you sure.

Fighter: Im fine I just slipped let me finish the round.

Coach: You know you have been out for 10 minutes?

Fighter: uhm…….no is wasnt!

It is up to the coach to outline the importance of concussion management, they must emphasise that a concussion means that you are injured and not just hurt.

Athletes also need to be on the look out for each other. If one of your team mates cant remember your name or his own name you might want to bring it to the attention of someone in charge.


No matter what you think for the most part professional fight teams do not encourage their fighters to kill each other. Our policy is to never go beyond 80% even in the depths of a fight camp.

Beyond 80% intensity you are

  1. more likely to hurt a training partner
  2. more likely to get hurt
  3. more likely to gas out
  4. more likely to be shit.

This goes with fights as well when you try to hit a guy as hard as you can you tense up, get slow and burn yourself out. Our corner teams have a number of phrases and strategies for keeping our fighters from spazzing out “think about hitting fast not hard” etc. This 80% value keeps you safe and sharp and gives you a safe way to prepare relistically for competition.

Outwith fight camps, I like to keep the majority of sparring light (sort of) and technical. Our Thai team has had great results with their “kick sparring” drills, this involves dicking around with new techniques and strategies  versus kicks. The coaches outline this is  a technical drill in the spirit of mutually improvement and it has been paying of in competition.

So what to do when a Concussion occurs?

Once a concussion is diagnosed by a medical professional the best form of recovery is rest. The symptoms tend to disappear with time. One of the golden rules is do not let some one who is still experiencing symptoms to return to training.

Robert Cantu, MD, chief of neurosurgery service, chairman of the department of surgery, and director of sports medicine service at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA, who has been a pioneer in developing concussion grading criteria and return-to-play guidelines following concussion.

Cantu states that athletes with mild (no LOC; post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) or symptoms lasting less than 30 minutes) or moderate (LOC less than one minute, PTA or symptoms between 30 minutes and 24 hours) first-episode concussions be asymptomatic for one week before returning to play. Those with severe concussions (LOC of more than one minute or PTA for more than 24 hours; symptoms lasting longer than seven days) should wait at least one month before returning to play, according to Cantu, and then only if they have been asymptomatic for one week. Cantu’s guidelines are stricter for repeat concussions, recommending termination of the season following a second severe concussion or a third mild or moderate concussion.

To find out more on this check out

This has been some heavy shit thanks for tagging along.


10 Responses to “Getting smashed in the head might not be good for you!”

  1. Neill said

    Bloody great blog today.

  2. Frakes said

    “Note: the above description is what the pro fighters get to experience. We are much more friendly and helpful to everyone else.”

    Lies, damned lies and statistics ;^)

  3. good read

    im pretty sure everyone ive ever sparred with has been concussed

  4. mjj said

    Quality content man. Don’t get me wrong, what happened with Benoit and his family was a tragedy and all that and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone but to quote Chris Rock “What ever happened to crazy?” I think the poor chap had demons created by something more complex than a few bumps on the noggin. Ive taken a fair amount of jabs to the coupon when training and even when I played rugby, I spent a lot of time concussed on the sidelines barfing up Gatorade, jibbering like a twat and not knowing where I am. All that considered, I’m not going to jab my gran, murder my girlfriend or generally set about my family with a crowbar…neither are the vast majority of us I’m sure. Although concussion may act as a form of accelerant to already present mental/psychotic issues or conditions, it has to be taken into consideration that some motherfuckers are just crazy to begin with. Awesome blog man!

    • maccavelli said

      Fair point,

      I agree with you. I added it to the blog as it was a high profile story to raise awareness of a very real issue.

  5. illegalhunter said

    Concussion sounds like me after a nite at the Arches . •Sensation of being Stunned
    •Blurred vision
    •Cognitive dysfunction
    Damm that Trance Music.

  6. Olinda Iba said

    Nice Website. You should think more about RSS Feeds as a traffic source. They bring me a nice bit of traffic.

    • maccavelli said

      I pulled the prose straight from the source. I think people overestimate what a concussion is and underestimate the significance of a minor head injury. Both need to be managed correctly so having both mentioned isnt going to upset me. Probably should have but an and/or in there though.

  7. ‘.- I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives great information ::.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: