Preventing injury while training is essentials if your goal is to compete at the highest levels of this sport. Kyle Boehm has recently come back from an extended injury hiatus to qualify for the EBI in the 185lbs division as well as the 205lbs spot for the 10th Planet Fight 2 Win team, winning all his matches by submission. He shares his thoughts about recovery, and how he was able to get back to high-level competition after a devastating knee injury.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: How long have you been training, your rank, and your significant accomplishments?
Kyle Boehm: I began training in December 2014. I am a brown belt under the 10th Planet system and train out of 10th Planet Phoenix. Main accomplishments are winning the Onnit Invitational 205 lb championship, being an EBI veteran, and having a significant win over Kaynan Duarte, who is the current ADCC Rio trials champion.
JJT: How did the injury happen that caused you to take time off from training & competing?
Boehm: The injury to the knee was the result of four separate injuries. The first was a torn medial meniscus from rock climbing which occurred in 2007. This caused a locking of the knee for several years on and off but eventually stopped causing issues. The second was a partially torn ACL during college rugby. The third was during competition from a kneebar. I wasn’t aware that there was a kneebar from the angle I was in and it came on very quickly. I sustained a torn MCL and tore the remainder of my ACL. On the advice of a physical therapist I train with, I got an MRI. It showed that the ACL and MCL were completely torn and the meniscus had a bucket handle tear. I was able to keep training on this and since it wasn’t causing any mechanical issues decided to not opt for surgery. And finally the last injury which caused the LCL and lateral meniscus to tear was when a training partner had my leg in the ‘lockdown’ position and my knee was bent at an awkward angle. My partner extended his legs and the knee twisted oddly and I heard a pop. After getting a 2nd MRI I learned the all six of the right knee ligaments were torn. The only one that wouldn’t require reconstruction or repair was the PCL as it was a partial tear not large enough to use surgical intervention for.
JJT: What was the rehab like for you to get back to 100%? How has it changed your training philosophy?
Boehm: The rehab mainly consisted of physical therapy workouts as soon as I could move the leg again. These began with very simple exercises that could be performed with a recovering leg, and as the leg grew stronger the workouts become more extensive and intense. For me, the biggest focus was on getting the knee back to competition form as well as maintaining cardio since I wasn’t able to do live rolling. So using the stationary bike as well as swim sprints were major parts of the recovery.
JJT: What kept you motivated during your recovery & training camp? Did you have any setbacks during training camp & how did you overcome them?
Boehm: I was motivated just by the simple fact that I love grappling and want to be involved with combat sports for the rest of my life. So I knew I needed to put in a disciplined effort to get back to competition form. The biggest change in my training philosophy is just the incorporation and understanding of the concept that if injury does occur and live training time is reduced or put on hold completely, I now understand that my current skill set can be maintained by staying involved in grappling in whatever way I can, be it watching class, watching video involving technique or potential future opponents, studying film and doing strength and condition that can be completed without the use of the injured body part(s).
JJT: What advice do you have for someone who has to take an extended time off due to injury & maybe thinking about quitting?
Boehm: For anyone who has to take an extended time off due to injury and is considering quitting, I would advise them to stay involved in the process no matter what. The biggest benefits of our sport come off the mat and jiu-jitsu has changed my life for the better on several fronts. I’m a better problem solver, don’t take myself as seriously, have more patience with other people and am healthier because of the process of training in grappling. So I’d encourage them to look at their recovery process with the same intensity and motivation as they looked at their jiu-jitsu training before the injuries. The motivation should be the same it’s just the goals are altered from, improving your grappling performance, to simply getting back to a form where training live is a possibility. Look at the next step in your recovery as a gift. When I was able to train with a grappling dummy for the first time after surgery it was really exciting and motivating. Then when I got cleared to drill with an actual training partner again it was another gift. So my advice would be to understand that just getting to be involved in the process of grappling training in anyway is a huge gift, even if you can’t train live for a while, cultivating a stoic as well as positive attitude is the best advice I could give. It all starts with your attitude. I can almost guarantee you that staying involved in the sport will bring more positive to your life than if you were to quit.