Training Jiu Jitsu Into Your 60s.
There is no denying git Brazilian jiu-jitsu favors the young and strong. That said, the beauty of Jiu Jitsu is that there is always a path for those of us who may not have youth and strength on our side.
As I recently entered my 40s and had several major surgeries that have left their mark on my physical abilities, I am often left asking “Am I too to be training BJJ?”
The answer is very simple: “NO!”
There is no getting away from the fact that any physical sport, especially Brazilian Jiu jItsu favors those with certain physical abilities on their side.
It is easy to look at the young 20 something wrestlers that start training Jiu jitsu whose joints seem to bend like rubber and can move as smooth as butter, and think Jiu Jitsu is not for anyone with lesser abilities or those that do not have age on our side.
Do not let that stop you from starting to train! There is still a place of everyone to thrive on the mats.
So how in the heck as a 40+ year old, someone over weight or just not in great shape do you not only survive on the mats but thrive?
First you have to understand Jiu Jitsu is a totally personal experience. I used to compare myself to other student progressing fast and feel as though my Jiu Jitsu sucked then get dis heartened. After a while I realized the pace at which I progressed in Jiu Jitsu was a totally personal experience and had nothing to do with my abilities.
Granted I am 40+, have had a full hip replacement, cervical spinal fusion and an autoimmune disease so my progress at Jiu Jitsu would naturally be slower than the 25 year old wrestlers. However this did not mean there was no path for me to succeed.
Where my Jiu jItsu began to improve at a fast pace was where I understood given the above physical limitations I would have to be that much more technical when training jiu Jitsu. I could not rely on explosive power and strength some of my other younger counter parts could fall back on oil a thought spot.
The second shift I had was to truly understand the ego needed to get checked at the door. If I have some 200lb jacked white belt tugging on my neck I am going to have to tap.
With these two changes win the approach to my Jiu Jitsu training I started to change my game and the approach to training Jiu Jitsu. I started to approach training with the mindset that if I let someone get a hold of my damaged parts that in itself was the tap.
Once I started to train this way, I began to understand how to dictate where the rounds went. For example I have a cervical fashion and two herniated disks in my neck. That said I wanted to keep everyone as far away from my neck as possible. So I focused heavily on leg entanglement and getting to peoples backs when training.
I also started to recognize when a position was turning south and bail. So rather than forcing a loosing position where my opponent has the upper hand I would focus on where in the scramble I could find an escape or reversal to eliminate the position in the first place.
Working in this manner takes a lot more time but is much more rewarding as you begin to truly understand the technical side of Jiu Jitsu and the beauty of the sport. Yes your progress may be slower and yes jiu Jitsu naturally favors those with less physical impairments. But does that mean you cannot find a path and thrive on the mats? Hell no!
If I could give two pieces of advice to anyone older or less able considering taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu if wild be these.
- Focusing on a game plan tailored to by body type
- Accept the limitations of your body and work around them
Note I am by no means an expert, I have just sustained more damage from life than your average so have learnt how to adapt and been able to keep training for 6+ years now despite two major surgeries. If you have serious medical conditions do your research, consult your physicians, get second opinions and work with your coaches. You alone will not have the answers but know that there is an answer.
There is no reason you will not be able to train for years and reach your Jiu Jitsu goals no matter how big or small they may be despite your age and physical abilities.
Roll on dudes and duets!