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Is BJJ the Fountain of Youth?
Today, right here and now, you are going to stop asking yourself if you are too old to train BJJ. If you have not started, today is the day that you find the nearest reputable BJJ academy and set up a time to visit or attend your first class. Today, not tomorrow. No one is getting any younger.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu truly has something to offer every person that walks into the academy if you are receptive to it. There is no magically age that one should start the journey to black belt, but now is much better than never. Second only to the "I'm going to get in shape before I start BJJ," the "I'm too old for BJJ excuse" is something that has stopped people from stepping on the mats forever. There is simply no truth to it. Legend has it that 95 year old Helio Gracie had a training session in the morning that he died.
The journey of a 1000 taps begins with that first class. That truly is the hardest part and once you begin, no matter what your age, you will want to keep going. Like a piece of machinery, our bodies do better when active. In stasis, we decay and stiffen up and are not as vibrant as we can be.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind if you are an older grappler or someone considering putting on those gis and rashguards for the first time.
Soreness vs. Injury
It's important to know the difference. You will be sore. There's no way to get around it. You are going to use muscles you've used infrequently or if at all. The day after a hard class you will probably feel like you've been hit by a bus, but you will never feel more alive. Every muscle filled with pain, is a muscle that is learning a complex system of self defense and ninja like moves. Overtime, through the proper preparation, like stretching, yoga and nutrition, you will be able to manage the soreness, but by then you will be hooked. Injury on the other hand is something to be careful of. By preparing your body with a good warmup, stretching and possibly including strength training, you will be able to stave off the majority of injuries.
Even if you are an older grappler and you have gold medal competition aspirations, it's important to recognize that you must train smart. Perhaps you train at a similar intensity as those young bucks, but maybe the overall length of your session is shorter. As an older grappler, once you have solidified your strength and conditioning, it may be time to work on your technique through drilling. Shakespeare was right when he said that "Old age and treachery will often defeat youth and skill."
Extra recovery may be necessary
Recovery is of paramount importance for every athlete, but as we age, we may need more and more time for our muscles, joints and connective tissues to heal after a challenging workout. Do not be afraid to give yourself additional rest periods. You may also want to explore different means like massage, cryotherapy, or one of the many other methods of inducing positive recovery that are available to athletes today.
To help you stay ahead of the various problem areas and most common aches and pains that can come with an active BJJ lifestyle, you will want to check out our article here on how to stay proactive and keep the pain away here.
In the video below, world champion Bernardo Faria meets with and discusses the BJJ lifestyle with 68 year old black belt and champion Pat Worley after a recent seminar. Pat shares many simple techniques that keep him on the mats consistently.
One of the best tools for increasing your overall BJJ longevity is the inclusion of yoga into your weekly training routine. For more information on this and how best to go about it, check out our article on the topic at BJJ Fanatics here.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, the fundamental techniques of BJJ are the ones that stand the test of time and tend to be the ones that are the most successful at the highest levels. You will not want to miss Gregor Gracie's first instructional DVD series "High Level Fundamentals" available today for only $77!