Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai with a BPI

Friends, parents and relatives: do you know someone living with a brachial plexus injury and would like to share your experience? Post here!
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Tanya in NY
Posts: 935
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 10:51 am
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc: I am Mom to Amber, injured at birth. I serve on the Board of Directors for UBPN, and am a labor/delivery nurse, too.
Location: NY State

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai with a BPI

Post by Tanya in NY »

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai with a BPI

When Amber was almost 4 years old, we enrolled her in ballet classes as a form of play therapy for her right obstetrical brachial plexus injury (ROBPI). She continued classes until she was 9 when she announced, “I don’t want to dance anymore.” A mother’s heart was crushed with those words. Her father and I felt it was important to participate in some form of play therapy as formal PT or OT was not an option at school or with our insurance carrier. I had been doing Muay Thai kickboxing for about 6 months at Dojo1 Martial Arts Academy as a form of fitness, so we discussed her giving this a trial. Amber walked in there excited, fearful, and anxious at the prospect of trying something new with disregard to her BPI. She wasn’t worried whether her arm would function well enough to complete the class, but rather her concern was over it being a new situation for her. See, she’s always been so unruffled by her right arm’s abilities or lack thereof. I on the other hand worry FOR her so I spoke with her new coaches briefly with her permission. I gave them the basics to which they seemed bewildered as to what a brachial plexus injury was, but surely willing to let her do what she can do and willing to encourage her to do all she can do just like any of the other children in the class.

Amber’s first Muay Thai class was completed and a smiling, sweaty child emerged from the room wanting to do it again! Excellent I thought! A couple months later, the head coach decided to combine the Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) children’s classes into one program to which Amber was infuriated about. See, Muay Thai is the art of 8 limbs. It encompasses utilizing your hands to punch, elbow and knees to strike with, and kicks with your legs, but there is no activity when someone is pushed or falls to the ground. You simply wait when your opponent is on the ground for them to stand back up before resuming activity. In BJJ, the majority of the activity is on the ground, “rolling” as it’s referred to. Rolling looks similar to the layman like wrestling moves with chokes, sweeps, and locks until someone “taps out” or you win by points in the allotted timeframe for competition. She wanted nothing to do with this for varying reasons, and I immediately started stressing about what would (could) happen if another child grabbed her right arm in an armbar or it became twisted in some manner. Would years of OT and PT be wiped away? Would her surgery at age 2 years be undone? Would she lose the phenomenal function that she’s strived to gain for so long? FEAR engulfed me and ANGER engulfed Amber.

Amber faced it head-on after getting over her initial fury. She pushed through that emotion and gave it a go, only to find out that not only was she fairly good at it as she has long, lean legs to use advantageously, but she liked, LOVED it! Does she struggle to do some moves as demonstrated? Absolutely! Does she strive to grip her teammate’s gi and hold on with her right hand only to have it slip away? Most definitely! Is she almost always the last one completing bear crawls because her right hand cannot be placed flat on the mat but instead she has to knuckle it to finish? Painfully so! Even so, does she like BJJ and Muay Thai? Unquestionably! In about a year’s timeframe, she has advanced to a grey belt with one stripe at the dojo and is looking forward to her first competition grappling tournament this year. She is now ranked even higher than me in BJJ! I am so proud of her efforts, her accomplishments, her ability to put herself out there in an uncomfortable position and conquer her fear. I learn from her in many ways, as can many of us.

Tanya Jennison, proud Mom

There are some images attached if you'd like to view them (just click the image to make it bigger). If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at at anytime.
Amber 6 Dojo.jpg
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Amber 4 Dojo.jpg
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Amber 3 Dojo.jpg
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Amber 1 Dojo.jpg
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Tanya in NY
Amber's Mom, ROBPI, 13 years old
Carolyn J
Posts: 3424
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 1:22 pm
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc: LOBPI. I am 77 yrs old and never had a name for my injuries until 2004 when I found UBPN at age 66.

My injuries are: LOBPI on upper body and Cerebrael Palsy on the lower left extremities. The only intervention I've had is a tendon transplant from my left leg to my left foot to enable flexing t age 24 in 1962. Before that, my foot would freeze without notice on the side when wearing heels AND I always did wear them at work "to fit in" I also stuttered until around age 18-19...just outgrew therapy for it. Also suffered from very very low self esteem; severe Depression and Anxiety attacks started at menopause. I stuffed emotions and over-compensated in every thing I did to "fit in" and be "invisible". My injuries were Never addressed or talked about until age 66. I am a late bloomer!!!!!

I welcome any and all questions about "My Journey".
Sharing helps to Heal. HUGS do too.
Location: Tacoma WA

Re: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai with a BPI

Post by Carolyn J »

I AM SOO PROUD OF AMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *Heart* 8-) ~gramma C
User avatar
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:17 am
Injury Description, Date, extent, surgical intervention etc: brachial plexus injury
Location: United States, PA, Harrisburg

Re: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai with a BPI

Post by Cassy11 »

That's a very inspiring story. Such people achieve a lot in their lives.
Amber did a very good job!
Have some rest and buy essay online here!