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Can Jiu Jitsu Help Correct the NFL’s Concussion Problem?


Scott Peters made his living as an NFL offensive lineman. He stood 6-3 and  weighed 300 pounds. So too say that being tapped out in his first Jiu Jitsu class by men twice as old and half is weight was a surprise would be an understatement.

Peters tells the IndyStar, “These guys were bankers, in their 50s! … I’d never gotten worked over that bad before, not even by NFL defensive linemen.”

A few years later The University of Washington had hired him to work as the football team’s strength and conditioning coach. Along the way he had utilized his Jiu Jitsu training and borrowed pieces from his Jiu Jitsu training, embedding its methodology into the players’ workouts, reshaping their movements almost from the ground up.

After implementing and blending in Jiu Jitsu techniques into his system, not a single player on the roster, over the course of 13 games, suffered a concussion or a neck stinger. The trainers told him they’d never seen anything like it.

He realized that this could have a bigger impact so he acted! He shared his findings with the Indianapolis Colts and there was buy-in from one of the biggest guys in the room, left tackle, Anthony Castonzo.

“It’s based on leverage, on generating power and using your hips, and it makes a lot of sense,” said left tackle Anthony Castonzo, a seven-year veteran. “The coolest part was that he had a reason for everything he was teaching us. It’s all based on evidence.”

On this, the IndyStar writes:

“Put simply: Peters’ approach asks players to use their hands, not their heads. Sounds simple, right? It’s not. Players are being asked to unlearn skills they’ve developed over a decade. Most are competing for roster spots, and don’t have the practice time required to rework such a significant part of their repertoire.

But, performed correctly, Peters contends, players will reap the very rewards those average Joes used to knock him over in that jiujitsu gym all those years ago. It’s a more efficient way of generating power — “A mechanical advantage we can create for ourselves,” is how he describes it. The payoff could be immense, especially for players like Castonzo, a lineman who makes his living in the trenches, scrapping for leverage against 300-pound behemoths angling to take his quarterback’s head off.

Think of how often helmets crash into one another along the line of scrimmage.

And think of how much safer players would be if that element of the game could be drastically reduced — or even removed.”

“Obviously, you’re not going to learn it in three days and become a master,” Castonzo said. “But I can’t be scared to get beat in practice if I’m trying a new technique. I’m always open to adding new tools to my tool belt.

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