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My first steps into vagabond bjj, first and foremost was welcoming. Second was the humbleness of not just the coaches, but from the students as well. There is literally no egos in vagabond bjj, everyone is humble and there to learn. The coaches and the students are uplifting you in any way they can. Also, there is a home feeling to vagabond bjj, I am so impressed by the coaches that I took my three kids out of taekwondo and enrolled them in vagabond. Vagabond is the place to go for bjj, stop by and let the camaraderie speak for itself.

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A welcoming energy and hospitality second to none. Well balanced top tier training. A throw back to what the martial way, and an old school Jiu-Jitsu academy is meant to be. Honored to call it my new training home and family.

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Vagabond has quickly become my home away from home since I signed up on 12/15/17. I love the friendly atmosphere here among the instructors and students that makes you feel at home from day one. The BJJ instruction for kids and adults, whether beginners or experienced grapplers is top notch. The laid back and friendly atmosphere helps students learn quickly so the training is excellent. In my first month here I lost 30lbs...just from learning and having fun with my friends. You really can't beat that. My wife trains here as well and loves it as much as I do.

I can and do recommend Vagabond to everyone I know. No matter what your goals are this is the place to achieve them in the Permian.

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Vagabond has been an amazing experience for my son and I. Don’t be confused Jujitsu is challenging and will push you regardless of your athletic ability, age, or cardio shape but we are all forged in fire. The greatest growth comes from challenging your body, mind, and spirit and in the short time at Vagabond I have experienced that. I look forward to the growth and life lessons I know I will learn.

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Coaches are awesome, the kids love it and they teach real skills. The kids grow in confidence, discipline, and respect. My son has been going there for about a month and has already had great improvements in his attitude and he’s excited for class days. I highly recommend this great group of folks.

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I have been here a few weeks and have been very impressed with everyone. I've trained in several places and with quite a few people. the coaches here are very good and very encouraging. I have yet to meet an ego. Even Prof. Hantz who has taught the 530 a.m. one morning was humble and was very patient and encouraging with me. The higher belts aren't egotistical. Both of my young sons train here now and have been seeing improvement in them since day one. there are at least 4 coaches helping with the children's classes and they spend time with every kid to help and teach each individual kid. I have been very impressed and would definitely recommend this place to any age, sex or skill level. I also love that they have a 530 a.m. class. Often it is the only one I'm able to attend. Love this place so far!

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My 3 year old Son loves going to 'Jitsu'! Vagabond has great coaches and great staff!!

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What is cauliflower ear?

If you have walked into a BJJ gym or wrestling room, or have watched any UFC event ever, you undoubtedly noticed the deformed ears of some or all of the individuals involved.

This wrinkled and potentially bulbous appearance of the ears of many grapplers and fighters is known as cauliflower ear.

If you participate in BJJ or any art that involves potential traumatic contact to your ears, cauliflower ear is a reality of the game.

This article breaks down everything you need to know about cauliflower ear in BJJ.

By the time you finish reading, you will know what cauliflower ear is, how it happens, how to treat and avoid it, and whether it’s something you should worry about at all.

What is cauliflower ear?

Cauliflower ear is a condition that occurs when the external portion of your ear is hit or otherwise struck with physical force.

Common grappling examples include takedowns that involve using the side of your head for leverage, fighting out of chokes and headlocks and any technique in BJJ that involves contact to the ear.

If the damage is sufficient or repetitive, the layers of cartilage and connective tissue in your outer ear can separate and fill with blood and other fluid.

Initially, the ear will be tender, swollen, reddish-purple, and painful to the touch. If left on its own for hours to days, the cartilage in the surrounding area will die and fibrous tissue will form across the injured location. 

The tissue leads to a hardened mass in the damaged area that typically becomes pain-free and returns to its original color but retains the bulbous mass permanently.

This results in the final distinct appearance of cauliflower ear.

The location and degree of the initial trauma, as well as any treatment or lack thereof afterward, will determine the ultimate look of fully hardened cauliflower.

Cauliflower ear treatments

If you do get the beginnings of cauliflower ear, you will probably feel it pain-wise and when you touch your ear you’ll notice the puffy swelling.

To minimize the aesthetic effects of cauliflower ear, you must get it drained as soon as possible. 

Often, this is done with a syringe that pierces the skin and sucks out the blood and fluid. We recommend seeking a qualified medical provider for this service.

After drainage, you need to compress the area so that everything sticks together, and more fluid does not build back up. Doctors will often stitch the ear skin to the cartilage or use a compression clip to keep everything in place for a week or two until healing is complete.

You must also prevent further damage and disturbance to the area, or the ear will fill back up with blood and potentially be worse.

You must drain the fluid before the tissue dies and begins to harden. This process begins a few hours after the initial trauma and takes a few days to weeks before being fully hardened. 

Once the cauliflower ear is completely hardened, surgery is the only treatment option if you want a normal-looking ear.

While you will probably be advised to avoid training for a bit after a cauliflower ear treatment, if you do go back to the mats, you should wear headgear at least until your ear is healed and keep it clean to avoid infection.

Note that having good medical professionals drain your ear is the best method to stop serious deformity and prevent infection.

While many athletes will have a teammate drain their ears for them, this is far more likely to result in recurring cauliflower ear and poses a risk of infection.

How can I avoid cauliflower ear?

Other than avoiding BJJ, wrestling, or any contact altogether, the only effective preventative measure is wearing headgear when you train and especially during live rolling.

This gets tedious and its uncommon to see someone with years on the mat who still wears headgear. However, wrestling headgear is the only real method for preventing the damage during training.

Why does cauliflower ear look different on different grapplers?

The location and degree of damage to the ear play a pivotal role in the ultimate appearance of cauliflower ear.

You probably notice a range of cauliflower ear appearances on a spectrum from slightly monkey-eared to full-blown Shrek. This depends on your original ear anatomy and the extent of the damage.

Additionally, treated cauliflower ear often results in a more subtle deformity that may not be recognized by non-grapplers.

Why doesn’t everyone in BJJ have cauliflower ear?

Some grapplers have serious cauliflower ear, while others seem unaffected.

The structure of your ear and its baseline softness determine how susceptible your ears are to the initial trauma that leads to cauliflower ear.

Additionally, the techniques you favor in BJJ and how often you train also determine your likelihood of trauma resulting in cauliflower ear, although it would be tough to avoid any ear contact altogether.

We do not recommend changing your game to avoid cauliflower ear. But if you tend to go for double leg takedowns, you are probably more susceptible than someone who pulls guard and sweeps.

Finally, grapplers who have about with cauliflower ear that gets quickly drained and healed anecdotally seem to be less susceptible to further cauliflower ear in the same spot, although this is not always the case.

Is cauliflower ear dangerous?

Although it is painful and potentially aesthetically undesirable, cauliflower ear is not very dangerous.

The biggest health risk of cauliflower ear is getting an infection. This is far more likely to occur if you try to drain it yourself or have a non-medical professional do it for you but is fairly avoidable if you follow basic hygiene and let the area heal.

Beyond infection, the biggest risk is appearance.

This is largely subjective.

Some grapplers want to avoid cauliflower ear at all costs, while others may see it as a badge of honor or indication of commitment to the sport.

If you are a professional BJJ artist or MMA fighter, you probably do not care about having some cauliflower ear.

That being said, it will certainly stop your modeling career in its tracks for anything other than BJJ Gis and fight gear.

For corporate, medical, or legal professionals who need to appear civilized in their day-to-day lives, cauliflower ear may be a bigger concern.

If you fall into this camp, you should consider wearing headgear when grappling.

Cauliflower ear in BJJ: the bottom line

Cauliflower ear is a common condition amongst BJJ grapplers, wrestlers, MMA fighters, and other contact athletes.

Cauliflower ear may or may not be a desirable appearance for you, however it is largely safe provided you mitigate the risk of infection.

Cauliflower ear is relatively easy to treat if you catch it immediately after the trauma. However, surgery is required for removal if the area completely hardens.

Cauliflower ear is not a big deal whether you treat it or not unless it completely blocks your ear canal, but it is painful at first.

Regardless, if you want to avoid the condition, wear wrestling headgear while grappling.

If you do not want to wear headgear, buckle up, have fun, and embrace the cauliflower!