Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for older practitioners
Training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for older practitioners can be hard at times, something many of our younger teammates cannot understand.
Older practitioners don’t recovery as quickly. They may need to train every other day. Training becomes about training smarter rather than “harder.”
You may have more injuries than your younger teammates but it is up to you to figure out how training BJJ can work for you. Remember it is not just about your body, you are training your mind as well.
BJJ is a lifestyle. If you are limited in your physical abilities due to age or injuries, maybe you focus on the self-defense side of the art. Maybe you drill more. But please remember, BJJ is not limited to young, athletic types or young boys and girls. It has no such boundaries or constraints.
BJJ is for everyone, at any age. The late Grandmaster Helio Gracie showed us that by training actively up until his early nineties.
There are advantages that come with being a middle aged BJJ practitioner. You are wiser. You know how to learn and are a more efficient learner. You can usually focus better and faster than you would have in your teens or twenties. Visualize, because mental reps count too. Try to eat very clean, get lots of sleep, and listen to your body. Another plus is at an older age, you should not be distracted and are unaffected by peer pressure.
The Jiu-Jitsu Academy is your Sanctuary. The Great Rickson Gracie used to say “Jiu-Jitsu puts you completely in the moment where you must have complete focus to finding a solution to a problem. This trains the mind to build that focus, to increase your awareness and your ability to solve problems.”
I am an older Professor at soon to be 49 and I have many older practitioners at my Academy. Some still compete and test themselves in the Master and Seniors divisions. They have no limitations. One of my students who is in his late 40’s just received the 4th stripe on his purplebelt Saturday. My highest ranking student will turn 50 this year.
My advice to the new practitioner who is starting jiu-jitsu is the same for an older student as it would be for a younger student. Start out by learning the Self-Defense and defense to everything. You will get “comfortable being uncomfortable” and learn how to survive. It is one of the most overlooked principles of BJJ in my opinion. If you cannot be finished, you survive. Your chances of coming out on top grow with the longer you survive. But sometimes surviving is just surviving, maybe even taking less damage.
Rickson Gracie would finish that quote with “Sometimes, you don’t have to win. You cannot win. But that has nothing to do with losing.” It’s a quote I’ve always loved.