When Are You Too Old for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Over 40?
Old man Jiu Jitsu? Yes please.
Actually this is one of the most asked questions on the internet about Jiu Jitsu – when is it too old to start Jiu Jitsu. The truth is, lots of people start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over 40. In fact, a lot of people start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over fifty and in some cases when they are over 70.
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When it comes to starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), there is no age limit or cutoff. The consensus within the BJJ community is that age should not be a barrier to entry, as BJJ emphasizes technical skills over strength and athleticism.
Trainers and practitioners affirm that you are never too old to start BJJ. The martial art prioritizes technique and leverage, making it accessible to individuals of different ages and fitness levels. Carlos Gracie Jr., for example, continues to train and teach BJJ even into his 69th year. Master Helio Gracie trained into his 90’s!
While beginning BJJ at a younger age may offer certain advantages, older practitioners can still benefit greatly from the practice. Starting BJJ later in life can improve physical fitness, mental well-being, self-defense skills, and overall confidence. It is recommended to consult with a reputable BJJ school or instructor to address specific concerns and receive personalized guidance based on individual circumstances.
Is Training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Over 40 Different than for Younger Athletes?
Yes, it is. Of course it is.
As you age, your body changes. For men, your body slows down testosterone production, and for women, often their estrogen levels drop. This changes things.
Once you pass 40 years of age, you will notice a few changes. Usually the first change is you feel less motivated to train as hard. This has a lot to do with testosterone production, but it also has a lot to do with family, work, and other responsibilities that soak up a lot of your time and energy.
Can you still train hard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over 40? Yes, you can. In fact, some endurance athletes say they didn’t progress at all until they were over 40. What tends to change for most people is that you have other obligations and responsibilities that are going to take up your time and energy.
If you want to compete against a young person who lives in a van behind their Jiu Jitsu Gym and trains all day every day, and you have a job, spouse, kids, and family, it is going to be hard to match their training time and intensity.
How to Train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu over 40
Once you are over 40, there are some training tips that will help your Jiu Jitsu. One is, most people are going to need to focus more on quality for short bursts with proper rest days in between. One thing you will notice for sure by your mid-40’s is that you don’t recover as fast and you stay sore longer. Pay attention to recovery.
Next, if you do get injured, it takes longer to recover. Focus on longevity in the sport. Master Helio Gracie was training Jiu Jitsu at 94. But we have seen people whose bodies are “shot” at 30 from the way they train.
Don’t act like you won’t live a long time – because you might and your body will deteriorate. Until recently hip surgeries were unheard of under 60 – we know athletes in Jiu Jitsu that had their first hip replacement at 35. Pay attention – you have to live in this body and it might be broken for a LONG TIME.
Strength Training is Important
In the United States we tend to train completely backward. We lift weights to “bulk up” when we are in our 20’s and then try to run ultra marathons when we are 50. This is completely backward. As you lose testosterone, you lose the ability to build muscle.
But muscle is built by testosterone. The more muscle tissue you have, the more ability you have to produce testosterone. You should be focused on building and maintaining muscle over 40 – not when you are twenty and have more testosterone than you can manage.
If you are over 40 – get on the weight pile. It will protect your joints, and help you maintain your muscle well into the future.
Technique – finally!
You should probably have been trying hard to become precise and highly skilled in your technique a long time ago, but that isn’t often the case. Recently in an interview, Roger Gracie said, “people train to be tough, so they are tough. They just aren’t good. So stop training to be tough, and train to be good at jiu jitsu, and you will be.”
Don’t train to be tough – train to be good. At Fusion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Salt Lake City, our logo says, “dedicated to technique.” It doesn’t say, “dedicated to being tough as nails.”
Plus, as you age, your mobility, agility, and athleticism will start to decline and it will continue to decline. There isn’t any way to stop that relative to a twenty something year old. But you can be highly skilled, efficient, accurate, and have great timing. You know – like we were told to do in the beginning?
Being better at Jiu Jitsu rather than stronger or tougher as a person was a “good suggestion” when you were younger, but over 40, it is essential to your longevity, but also to your enjoyment of Jiu Jitsu.
Summary - Jiu Jitsu over 40
There are people that fight aging and those who deny aging, but the truth is – aging doesn’t care. Aging is not concerned at all about what your opinion of it is.
Trying to “fight aging” is like trying to fight a black belt when you are a blue belt. You flail around and make all kinds of mistakes, and in the end, there is the inevitability waiting for you, right where it always was, not tired, not even expending any energy.
So what should you do? Work with it. Slow down. Figure out what you need to do NOW, here, in this moment in your evolution to be successful at Jiu Jitsu from where you are, not where you were, or wish you could go back to.
Train smart and work on accuracy of technique. You are not going to “out tough” a young person with similar skill level. You are probably not going to beat them on strength past a certain point. But you can become smarter, better at your set ups, more accurate at your techniques, and adept at conserving energy and waiting for the submissions reveal itself.
People who try to ignore these changes, are people who either get discouraged and quit training, or they get hurt very badly and never come back when they finally recover.
Things change – learn to change with them. Otherwise you are like a white belt who thinks they are on the edge of a submission, and actually has nothing at all, but refuses to let go and move on.
Don’t be a snazzy over 40 year old Jiu Jitsu practitioner.