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Tua Tagovailoa suffered three documented head injuries during the 2022 NFL season, one of which sent him to the hospital. To try and avoid another head injury in the future, he is turning to judo.
Judo, an unarmed modern Japanese martial art, was created in 1882. It focuses on immobilizing opponents with a pin or forcing submission with a joint lock or a choke. Strikes and use of weapons are not allowed.
Judokas will inevitably collide with the ground on a frequent basis in competition. That is essentially the entire goal of the sport. Thus, it is crucial for judokas to learn how to minimize their risk of injury.
A large emphasis in judo training is placed on falling techniques.
That is where judo will come into play for Tua Tagovailoa.
He will focus a large component of his judo training on how to fall gracefully. The goal is to avoid serious injury.
Tagovailoa recently spoke with Kay Adams and Nate Burleson about what his offseason will look like. After missing multiple games due to head injuries in 2022, he will be doing judo every Friday.
The hope is that the martial art practice will help him better understand his body and teach him how to contort himself in a way that avoids injury while falling.
Coincidentally, Conor McGregor was recently hit by a car while on his bike. He credited his wrestling and judo training for his survival and said that “awareness on the landing” saved his life.
Although the two incidents do not directly correlate to one another, Tagovailoa and his trainers hope that his judo training will provide a similar knowledge of ‘landing’ when he is hit by a defender. It will help him learn how to contort his body in a safe way while falling to the turf.