I am 37, 1.80m, >85 kg. I used to train Judo twice or three times a week at competition level (although I was not participating in contests, I was training hard with those who did). About two years ago I had an ACL rupture while free sparring (randori), and the moment was bad, I lacked time and focus to really treat myself (no operation was done) and for some time I wasn't even sure it is ACL and kept trying to train for a while until I realized it is too serious to dismiss as nothing but body pain. Then I gave it up completely, and went through some serious melancholy (let us not call it depression).

Two years later the pain is mostly gone, I can run for 30 minutes at medium pace without feeling pain afterwards. But I feel that I cannot continue with hardcore Judo (hooks and leg twists are still painful). I tried easier Judo with seniors that looks mostly like some kind of social rumba dance than Judo to me. It did not work, although I do like the feeling of being clad in Judo gear and doing the poses. It doesn't make me sweat, my brain does not register it as a fight.

I feel like I am loosing the fitness state of my body, doing physical exercise just does not work without some kind of motivation, which I used to get from my passion for Judo and from my fellow training guys. I grew a beard (that helped) and the beginning of a belly and I am getting concerned about health (I am a very sedentary programmer/researcher otherwise).

It not just ACL but also a matter of not having time and sufficient focus, meanwhile I got a small kid so ideally once a week training is the only thing I could afford, coupled with some power training and running every other day. In fact the ACL injury may have come because I could not train three times a week already by that time.

So the question is if you can suggest something for me that might motivate me into doing anything but sitting on my chair. Having experienced a few martial arts, I think BJJ might put less strain on the knees If I can avoid dangerous hooks. What do you think? Is there something else that you can recommend? I like to do archery but that does not give fitness benefits, I like to swim and to run sometimes, but not as much as to put real effort. Not into the 'compete with yourself' obsession. It may work for an hour while I do it, but it does not make me follow a weekly schedule.

Update:

Thanks for the replies, here are my conclusions:

  • I got an unanimous advice on consulting a doctor and trying to upgrade my knee, even though after two years the knee recovery is probably reduced it may reduce the knee decay.
  • Judo may not be an option if I want to continue doing rougher fighting, but BJJ could be if practiced with care.
  • Kids might help with future fitness motivation, (although mine is a bit too young for martial arts, at 2.5 years).
  • 3
    Depending on how small your kid is: do something with them! – Sardathrion Nov 18 '15 at 13:19
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    Along with Topin's answer: If the ligament is gone, it can possibly be repaired using either a cadaver ligament or a ligament from elsewhere in the body. Seeing a doctor would let you know what all your options are. – JohnP Nov 18 '15 at 22:26
  • My wife lost her acl in her teens. Her acl was replaced with 1/3rd of her own patellar ligament in Canada, whose healthcare system is more similar to yours than the US system. Other acl replacements are cadaver and kevlar. The surgery is arhroscopic today, and straightforward enough that specialists book multiple back to back appointments in a day. In the US, when the doctor thought she might have blown the replacement, they apologized that the next surgery day was next Tuesday. – pojo-guy Mar 13 '16 at 22:35

First things first, I think you should see a doctor that could give you a "go". A specialist could tell you if he thinks it would be safe for your knee if you restarted doing martial arts. If the doctor says no, you're putting yourself at risk if you restart. Let's face it, even if you feel your health is deteriorating, it is much better than with a destroyed knee.

The advantage with BJJ is that there is usually less emphasis on throws, which I think could be pretty dangerous for your knee. So nothing stops you from starting this. Obviously you should inform your instructor about the situation, so he/she can warn you if an exercise could be dangerous to you. They have experience, they trained for years, a good instructor should be able to tell you when they feel you should be cautious about a movement, especially with knees since these are "frequent" injuries in the world of martial arts.

If you ever want to start doing BJJ, always make sure that your training partner is aware of your injury. You should try and train with more experimented partners, since white belts usually do not have that much control over themselves, they could hurt your knee without intending to do so.

Otherwise, couldn't boxing be a good fit for you? It does put some stress on the knees (that is up to you (and a doctor) to see if you think it's dangerous) but since there's no kicking or grappling in boxing, it might be a good fit. Plus it's excellent for the stamina and overall fitness.

And if you can, depending on the age of your child, include him/her into your training. Most martial arts clubs that I know offer classes for young. It'd be good for the child to start an activity that you love yourself and it is known to be good for kids on overall.

Also, if your child is practising the same activity you do, it will motivate your. I believe you know the advantages of martial arts for kids and you loved martial arts (At least, I guess you did.) so you'd like your kid to stay focused in an activity they like. But the truth is, some kids are hard to keep motivated, so if you go with him/her, it'll keep the motivation up for the child. "If my dad/mom does it and likes it, and I like it, why should I stop?"

  • My kid is too small, the only thing we do is run around house and roughousing. I wrote that I want to feel the sweat and the feeling of fight, which I cannot get from my son for the next 18 years, and by that time it may be even more dangerous for me. I have the problem that I never liked hitting sports, otherwise boxing would probably be good. – grokkaine Nov 19 '15 at 10:49
  • I guess I have to adapt to older age somehow, I don't know how people that used to train hard and fight rough get through life after they have to slow it down. It seems there are no recipes after that point. And yea, I hope my kid does Judo, but I can't help feeling a bit disappointed by sports in general, if they cannot motivate people with a slight disability. – grokkaine Nov 19 '15 at 10:50
  • @grokkaine My Tae-Kwon-Do master has both ACL pretty much destroyed forever. In her case there's no real trick other than to teach (even then, there's no fighting). Maybe that is something you could experiment? (If you are given the possibility and if you're high-ranked enough!) It would be a different feeling but maybe you'd like it? – IEatBagels Nov 19 '15 at 14:20
  • I would reiterate, you should try to see a doctor! Or maybe a sport's physiologist (I'm not sure that's the good term). Maybe they could help you figure out solutions! – IEatBagels Nov 19 '15 at 14:21

On the physical side: Knee ligament replacement surgeries are pretty good these days. You should see a doctor to see if that is an option. (You might want it anyway, even if you don't train hard, because you want to make sure you're not suffering meniscus wear as well...).

The second person you want to see is a sports medicine specialist. They can let you know what movements are safe/unsafe for your leg and body. This will help determine what martial arts, or techniques/types of practice within a martial art, are things you can go with.

On the morale side: If you know what's safe to do in Judo, you might have enough options to still have a good time. If not, you can pick a new martial art based on what is still doable. Other than that - it depends on what motivates you.

I'm personally recovering from hardcore chemotherapy - it left me bedridden most of a year, wrecked my cardiovascular system, and my sense of balance and fine motor control. While I still can't do everything I used to, I've found weapon training is fun and something I can do by myself and get some improvement. Maybe there's some thing you considered exploring but never got into? Look and see if it's something you can play with.

If it's the competition/sparring that gets you, find an art that allows you to do it safely for your knee and have fun.

  • Unfortunately doctors dismiss people with injured knees that want to do urgent or long term treatment unless they are top athletes (I am just an amateur, not a pro). And I live in Sweden, where healthcare is supposed to be one of the best. I was simply dismissed when I checked with the doctors, and I could not afford to spend more time and money at the time. As long as I could still walk and I was not a pro fighter I was not an interesting case for a medic. I will try to follow your advise though and get a doctor looking into it, maybe find a private clinic. – grokkaine Nov 19 '15 at 10:59
  • Unfortunately I don't know about other countries' medical systems, however, I know in the US the ligament replacement surgery is common enough, although expensive (however, that has more to do with our medical system than the issue itself.) If you can't get a doctor to ok that, at least get in touch with a sports specialist who can help you figure out what movement options will work best for you. – Bankuei Nov 19 '15 at 20:56

I'm 49 , 1.85 and > 90Kg; I'm going to keep on training 2 or 3 times a week as long as my knees allow me. When they no longer let me throw my o soto gari, I will change for BJJ. Many judokas have already chosen Ne Waza because of injury.

You could also get semi-judo training : warm-up, technical part, Kata, and just do Ne waza Randori. And during stand-up randori, you'll train Uchi Komi

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