“Am I too old to start jiu jitsu?” This is a common question among those over 40 who have an interest in BJJ. Luckily, in most cases, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” One of the things that makes BJJ so great is that it allows practitioners to train well into their later years. However, older grapplers should do so with a different approach than their younger counterparts. The reason for this is simple: as we get older, our bodies change. For example, as we age, we tend to experience more soreness, stiffness, and back pain than we did in our younger days. If we fail to account for these changes, we risk injury and an early exit from BJJ. However, by training intelligently and following the tips below, BJJ after 40 should be no problem.
Tip #1: Tap Early and Often
Tapping isn’t the most fun thing in the world to do, and most of us have made the mistake of tapping too late. However, the same armbar that tweaks the elbow of an 18-year-old could keep keep a 40-year-old off the mats for weeks or even months. Therefore, if you train BJJ after 40, repeat after me: “Tapping is my friend.” Trust me, your body will thank you for it.
Tip #2: Scale Back the Intensity
If you train BJJ after 40, you probably won’t be competing for a world championship any time soon. Therefore, you shouldn’t treat your sparring sessions as if you will be. Although rolling hard can be challenging and fun, as an older grappler, you should make a concerted effort to scale back the intensity of your rolls. This will prevent injuries and speed up your recovery time between training sessions.
Tip #3: Focus on Defense
If you train BJJ after 40, defense is your friend. In fact, focusing on defense is a good idea for both older grapplers and non-competitive hobbyists of all ages. Although hunting for submissions is fun, relentlessly attacking your training partners can lead to some intense rolling sessions, and this can result in injuries. Therefore, as an older grappler, you should make a conscious effort to allow your opponent to be the aggressor. Not only will this drastically improve your defense, but it will keep you free from injuries.
Tip #4: Rest, Recover, and Eat Right
Rest, recovery, and diet are important for all athletes. However, they are particularly important for older grapplers. In fact, as a BJJ athlete over 40, rest, recovery, and diet can mean the difference between injury and health. Therefore, all older grapplers should place special emphasis on rest, recovery, and nutrition.
BJJ Is for Everyone
As an older grappler, you it’s necessary to approach BJJ differently than your younger counterparts. However, by making a few small adjustments to your game, lifestyle, and training methods, you’ll be able to train BJJ after 40 and beyond. See you on the mats!