The Over 40 Crowd Is Welcome To Train
Just as karate and similar striking arts may be associated with children and teens, more and more from the 20 something male demographic are becoming interesting in jiu-jitsu training. In both cases, it might sound like older men and women are discouraged or omitted from training. Nothing could be further from the truth, regardless of the martial art, but especially when it comes to Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).
There is an old saying in jiu-jitsu: “The best time to have started training jiu-jitsu was 20 years ago.
The 2nd best time is NOW!” Master Carlos Gracie still embodies the highest standards of physical fitness, still practicing after the age of 60. The late TV show host and author Anthony Bourdain started training at 58 years old and made it as far as blue belt.
The Gracie style of instruction promises programs for all levels and types of students. It recognizes that each student has his or her own goals and needs. The early reputation of BJJ academies was strongly associated with high-level competition, which most likely affected who was or was not willing to enroll. However, those schools have since come to recognize that competition training may not be compatible with everyone’s goals and capabilities.
If you are over 40 and wish to begin BJJ training, there are a few important things you should bear in mind:
Go at your own pace.
Not everyone who enrolls in an academy is in their twenties or already active or in shape. Odds are, depending on your job, you may have been leading a sedentary lifestyle up until now. It takes time to adapt to the physical demands of BJJ. Hold yourself to your own standards, rather than let yourself get distracted by younger students who eat, sleep and breath jiu-jitsu. Adopt a more balanced, patient approach.
Protect yourself at all times.
When first starting out, the name of the game is defense. Protect your spine and neck. Master Carlos Gracie Jr. especially advices that you look out for your lumbar region. If you have to give up a position, do it.
Be mindful of recovery time.
An increased commitment to healthy diet is recommend by most black belts over 40. It is part of the recovery process, as is adequate sleep and rest in between sessions. All this and a healthy nutrition are the key to longevity in this art.