Improving your training through injury. 

About 12 weeks ago I had major shoulder surgery. A full and two partial tears of the rotator cuff, a dislocated AC joint, a Mumford procedure (shaving down of the collar bone to alleviate arthritis),and  a small tear in the bicep and labrum.  

I was pretty devastated when I found out that I had to have surgery, especially when they told me the recovery time was likely 6 months.  Six months without training? I almost didn’t do it. 

One of my concerns of course was losing my trajectory of improvement.  Without regular training I feared, like a lot of people I’m sure, that I would “forget all my moves”, which in my dramatic mind basically put me back at white belt after months without rolling and sparring.

But of course I had to have it fixed.   And now, three months later,  and half way through my recovery, I’m happy to say I have found many ways to improve my training in both Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu and would like to share those tips with you. 

Disclaimer: I am by no means medically trained. Please listen to your doctors/body and use what works for you. 

  • Keep coming to the gym/dojo. One of the main values of training martial arts is community. We spend a lot of time with our training partners and they become family, don’t lost sight of the value of being around like minded people. Also there is a lot of learning to be done on the side of the mats. Takes notes, watch people roll/spar and ask yourself what you might do in various situations. Draw mind maps. 
  • Find a moderator. If you’re anything like me, the draw of the mat may be too much for you to resist. Pick some trusted friends to let you know you are being stupid. Luckily for me my husband Josh, best friend Yin and coach Andy, are around to let me know I am getting out of hand and doing too much, (and literally put me in the corner.) Even if it annoys me sometimes I know they have my best interest in mind and are essentially saving me from myself. You may be more wise than me. 
  • Trusted training partners are key.  As you are able to do more and more you will rely on your team mates to accommodate you.  Don’t be afraid to ask to go light. More importantly don’t be afraid to ask them to STAY light, as sometimes rolling naturally escalates.  Let your partner know that you will take responsibility for protecting your injury to help ease the nervousness of being the one to reinjure you.  This goes for both drilling ,and if you’re able, especially sparring. 
  • Listen to your body, but push it out of its comfort zone without re-injuring yourself. You will need to trust the affected area again. Lightly trying new things during the stages of your healing will allow you to test the waters. Any pain don’t do it. But you may have options available to you and won’t know unless you try. 
  • Visualize while you’re doing other exercise.  I was able to only walk initially and would use that time to imagine matches. Once I was approved for harder cardio I would use my bike sprint time to imagine doin hard body kicks repeatedly. Keeping those times we push ourselves physically in training will help you keep that intensity and push you to do your best when you may not otherwise. 

Having done all these things since a few weeks after surgery I have been fortunate to be able to work on games (albeit limited) that I would not normally play and see definite improvement in those areas even though I am still only able to roll and spar lightly. My A game is certainly not as sharp due to my specific injury (bottom half guard and right cross I miss you dearly) but I am starting to connect how my new skills will play a part in my game. 

Below I list some specific drills that I have found generally safe and fun for both myself  and my partners.  These are based on loss of dominate arm function.  Again these drills were done with care and technique in mind. 

Weeks 2-6 

Muay Thai 

  • Basic foot work. Movement back and forth side to side. 
  • Front and rear foot jab.
  • Leg kicks (light!) body kicks were out since I couldn’t use my arm for counter balance 

For BJJ:

  • Standing passing drills, windshield wipering the legs (this is pretty much all I could do weeks 2-4) 
  • Leg drags, xpass on unaffected side 
  • Popping out DLR hooks, setting up cut pass 

Weeks 6-10

Muay Thai  

  • Left kicks
  • Front and rear foot jab
  • Left body kick
  • Jab, just footwork and extension no impact 
  • Slipping punches 


  • Open guard!  finally allowed to lay on my back. 
  • Single leg x to x guard static drill they push the foot out the hip you transition to x
  • Single leg x sweep to foot lock (my good side yay!) 
  • Attacking the back with one hand partner defends but can’t escape over bad side 

Weeks 10-current

Muay Thai 

  • Kick sparring light 
  • Defending punches with slipping (still no parry for against orthodox) 
  • All partner drills that don’t involve getting dumped 
  • Body kicks


  • start to roll very lightly with partners tucking my arm in my belt mostly to remind me and them. Most positions are possible with the exception of bottom half guard and being mounted. 

I hope this helps those of you who may be dealing with an injury.  I’d love to know what kinds of drills you were able to figure out to work around your specific ailments or surgerys. 

Birthday Wings 

Nothing makes this wife happier than my hubby requesting that I cook his birthday meal. I get bored really easily eating the same things all the time but there are a few dishes that get rotated in often.  One of those things is chicken wings.  

But chicken wings can’t be part of healthy diet right? Well, the way I see it, it’s all in the preparation, and the moderation.  Maybe don’t eat these every week. But if you’ve gone total beast mode in training and have a few calories in the bank, treat yo’self. 

These are not difficult recipes. Nor are the culinary genius… But they are friggin delicious. 

Garlic Wings 

Pre heat the oven to 400° F 

3 lbs wing parts, dried with paper towel (I do this by laying paper towel on the cutting board and laying them out, then patting them dry with another paper towel.) 

1 Tbl melted coconut oil 

3 Tbl Montreal chicken seasoning 

1Tbl garlic powder 

1 tsp kosher salt 

1 tsp ground black pepper 

  • Toss the dried wings with oil and dry ingredients, combine to coat the wings completely 
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray (don’t skip this step!) 
  • Lay wings on sheet tray leaving a little space in between to ensure they are crispy 
  • Bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes, when the skin is crispy and golden brown 

Teriyaki Wings 

(These are slightly more complicated but the outcome is worth it) 

3 lbs chicken wing parts, dried as explained above 

1Tbl coconut oil 

1tsp kosher salt 

1 tsp pepper 

For Sauce 

3Tbl hoisin sauce 

2Tbl soy sauce 

1Tbl fresh garlic, minced 

1Tbl fresh ginger, minced 

2Tbl scallion, minced 

  • Toss dried wings with coconut oil, salt and pepper and bake at 400° (in the same method described above)  about 30 minutes until skin starts to crisp, but they are not completely finished 
  • While wings are baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl large enough to accommodate wings 
  • Remove wings from baking sheet using tongs and toss wings to coat in sauce.
  • Return wings to baking sheet and bake an additional 10 minutes until sauce reduces slightly and wings are crispy (because of the suace they will be slightly less crisp than the Garlic variety) 

You may not need to bake 3lbs of wings at a time, but that is the average pack size I’ve come across, and keep in mind the poundage does include bones. No judgment here on how many wings you put away. 

Also I highly recommend Bell and Evans chicken wings.  They are super tender and crispy up nicely.  They aren’t paying me to say this, but I wish they were. 

I didn’t get a great pic, but I couldn’t make the man wait on his birthday… You guys know what wings look like anyhow.

Cauliflower Kale and Asiago Soup (GF, LC) 



Cauliflower is the new coconut. For those of you who stay on top of healthy eating trends you may remember after the paleo craze hit, coconut became the star of the kitchen. Coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut milk… We were all nuts for coconut.
Flash forward to 2015-16, the year of the Cauliflower. From Pizza crust to Alfredo sauce the Internet is filled with different ways to use it beyond the steamed with butter that we are all accustomed to.

From a health perspective, it’s loaded with vitamins, very low in carbs, and has all the benefits of cruciferous veggies (see )  without the usual deep flavor that comes along with them. That can make it a pretty agreeable ingredient when you are substituting or modifying recipes to lower calories or limit certain macros. What it does in this recipe is add a lot of body and creaminess without a tons of extra fat added like the traditional heavy cream or roux.
And let’s not forget about it’s just as popular cousin Kale.  Kale is notably one of the best greens in terms of antioxidants, and a great source of fiber! Cooked or raw it packs a pretty big nutrient punch. And now I’ve brought this post full circle by relating it to Muay Thai 😉

I include a recipe for the crab topping, but you could eat/serve this as is!

This recipe is relatively low in calories and carbs so if you’re having this on a training day, definitely supplement during training with your favorite intra-workout nutrition. I use BPI sports “best aminos” and 1 Tbl honey per hour.

Cauliflower Kale and Asiago Soup                 

Yield 4 servings

For the Soup

2 oz. Bacon, chopped

2 cup, Cauliflower Florets

6 clove, Garlic,whole

1/2 white Onion, chopped

1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 cup 1″ pieces, loosely packed, Kale, raw

2 oz. Asiago, shredded

1/2 medium, Avocado diced

3 1/2 Cup, Chicken Stock or water

  1. Sauté the bacon pieces until crispy then remove from heat. Strain the fat and reserve. Leave the bacon off to the side.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets and garlic cloves with half the reserved bacon fat. (Discard all but 1 Tbl for later
  3. Roast cauliflower in the over at 350 F until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. ( you can skip this step if short on time, but it does add some nice flavor and richness to the soup… If you do skip it move ahead to the next step)
  4. Add reserved Tbl of bacon fat back to soup pot. Add chopped onion and sauté until brown. Then add red pepper flakes and stir.
  5. Add cauli, garlic, and kale to onion and stir until kale begins to wilt.
  6. Add chicken stock (or water) to cover ingredients and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn of heat and add avocado, bacon and Asiago cheese.
  8. At this point you can either use a blender to purée soup to a smooth consistency or a stick blender right into the pot.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to your satisfaction!

Lemony Crab Salad 

1 pound lump crab meat

1/4 red onion, small dice

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbl lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Stir all ingredients together taking care not to break up crab meat

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.15.00 AM.png img_0842

All/macros calculated using, nutritional info does not include crab topping 

Recipe legend GF- green faces LC-low carb HP-high protein PT-post training