JIU JITSU FOR SENIORS
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of combat sport in the world today. Platforms like the UFC, the ADCC, and the IBJJF world championships have ensured the growth of the sport, which is rising in the right direction. As the popularity has grown, so has the availability of local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools. The art has seen a huge influx of people from all walks of life, from young people, to students starting jiu jitsu at 30, all the way up to older students in their sixties. BJJ is an extremely fun Martial Art that allows students to increase their skills, strength, endurance, and flexibility, while learning how to defend themselves.
What This Article Covers:
- Can Seniors Fit into a BJJ Academy
- How to Find the Right Balance
- The Best Conditioning for Seniors
- Respect Our Seniors
- Can Seniors Compete
- Special Training for Seniors
- What Are the Benefits for Seniors Training in BJJ
For students starting brazilian jiu jitsu for the first time, they will discover how addictive, but complicated the Martial Art can be. Starting training at the later stages in life is not ideal, as students that begin from a child, or a young adult will reap the benefits of adding BJJ to their lifestyle, decades before they age. For a senior, training in BJJ can be medically advantageous, as some of the most common problems older people may face is decreased grip strength, lowered aerobic capacity, and hip degeneration. BJJ specifically develops these areas through many of their routines that are complimentary for seniors.
CAN SENIORS FIT INTO A BJJ ACADEMY
A BJJ school is one of the most encouraging and nurturing institutions of Martial Arts there is in the world. One of the strong suits that BJJ offers is an extremely diverse community that is accepting of all different people including age ranges, sexes, lifestyles, beliefs, and cultures. All students that start bjj after 50 are just as welcome as an athlete in the prime of their life. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more than just an art that will teach you how to fight, as its main objectives are to help people become better versions of themselves. This concept is extremely important in this day and age, as society is continuously battling through a wave of rising violence. There is no discrimination inside a BJJ academy, as all instructors reward hard work, continuity, and perseverance, not necessarily natural talent or athleticism. This means that a senior has just as high likelihood of progressing, as a younger athlete in their prime, as long as they are ticking all the boxes and taking their learning seriously.
In a lot of cases, it is the seniors at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school that are the backbone of the community. This is usually because they have already lived a lifetime of experience and know how to bring social skills to the forefront. This means that seniors will make friends easily and will usually be highly encouraging and inspiring, which is a huge asset to have as a student of BJJ. Quite often, it's the younger students that will look up to the seniors and are amazed by their dedication toward the art of self-defense. In a lot of cases, the black belt professor of an academy is a senior themselves, so for this professor to teach other seniors is a component that is extremely important, not only to the academy but also to the community as well. The seniors contribute not just to the physical aspects but also to the mental discipline and coordination required in mastering the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and self-defense.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE
Finding the right balance for a senior in martial arts will always be one of the hardest aspects. Every case is different, as each senior has their own strengths and weaknesses in joint locks, throws, and sparring. Seniors must take into consideration how healthy they are, how fit they are, whether they have any injuries, whether they have any health conditions, and how much time they have to train. Once the seniors can work out their limitations and know how far they can or cannot go, it is only then that they will find the right balance between all of their training facets, including joint locks, throws, and sparring. Often, seniors that stop training altogether will find themselves aging faster, so it is important to keep moving so they can stay active in martial arts, which will make them healthier as they enter their later stages in life.
It is always tough, even for younger students finding the right balance between strength and conditioning, and training in BJJ. Students that are starting jiu jitsu after 40 are in the high risk category, and this means they must substitute some of their training with strength and conditioning, cardio based workouts, and flexibility and mobility exercises. Yoga can be an excellent form of mobility for seniors, as not only will it help stretch out many of their tight spots, it will help to increase their range of mobility. Swimming is another great form of conditioning for a senior, as it has a low impact on many of their joints, and muscles, giving them a greater opportunity to work out their cardiovascular capacity. It can be a good idea for seniors to use weight training methods like kettlebell training, or resistance band training, so they can increase their overall muscular strength. It is in the details where seniors will work out the right balance for them, as they still need to incorporate several days of training on the Jiu Jitsu mats. This is the only way they will broaden their range of knowledge, and start to apply technical proficiency to their game styles.
THE BEST CONDITIONING FOR SENIORS
There is no one recipe that will work better for older adults in martial arts than another. Finding the right conditioning program is up to each individual, as all students, particularly older adults, have subtle differences. What is extremely important for all seniors is to begin with stretching and flexibility exercises to enhance their wellness. This means to spend a minimal ten minutes comprehensively stretching all of their tight spots, and this is to be repeated at the end of their workout to help them cool down and feel better. Conditioning for seniors is not about doing hard work; it's about doing constant work, as in most cases rolling on the mats will take care of their fitness levels. Seniors should use conditioning as a way to bulletproof their bodies, so they can best prepare themselves to avoid injury and maintain overall wellness. Some of the best workout routines will work in a three-exercise interval, lasting roughly ten minutes per each exercise. This may consist of two pushing exercises and one lower pulling exercise. For example, utilizing a bench press and then an assisted dip, followed by a deadlift, will be a good way to strengthen a senior's body to prepare for martial arts, promoting both physical fitness and overall wellness.
For some seniors, lifting weights may be out of the question, as they may find it puts them under too much physical stress. For these students there are other options like doing isometric workouts, which are using their own muscle strength to produce force, and create fatigue. One of the biggest considerations that a senior must take into account is recovery, as they are not as young as they used to be, and methods of recovery will become harder and harder the older they get. Students can never underestimate the value of a basic push up, pull up, or a sit up, as these exercises will help students gain considerable strength and conditioning, if weights are out of the question. Many of these types of movements can also be done with resistance bands, which basically just makes them harder, and more targeted to specific muscle group areas.
RESPECT OUR SENIORS
There are a lot of younger people that do not respect the older generations. Commonly a young person will believe that jiu jitsu for teens seems to be more important than older people training in the art. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu it teaches students to use many of these principles out in the real world, and this includes respecting people in general. There is also a special consideration for the elderly, as these pillars of our community need to be respected for the legacy they have left, for the younger generation. Quite often the younger athletes will be stronger, faster, and fitter than any of the seniors in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club, and although technique beats strength, this isn't always the truth. With this in mind younger students should not be arrogant by trying to bash the older practitioners in their academy, instead they should be looking after them and helping them to achieve longevity in the sport.
CAN SENIORS COMPETE
Any student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can compete in tournament matches. The common misconception that competing is just for the athlete in their mid-twenties is completely wrong. There is a place for all students, of all ages, in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition, fostering a sense of confidence and empowerment. This has become even more apparent due to the IBJJF running world masters tournaments, as this gives an opportunity for seniors to compete against practitioners of their own age group. All competitions have age divisions, which start at masters and move right up to masters six, which is for fifty-six-year-olds and above. This means that seniors will be able to compete without fear of a younger and stronger athlete causing them significant injuries. Competing in tournaments can be extremely fun for people of all ages, providing a platform for diverse competition scenes and allowing students to exercise their rights to compete, ultimately contributing to their confidence and empowerment.
SPECIAL TRAINING FOR SENIORS
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seniors will sometimes need special attention when they are learning BJJ. It can become increasingly hard for seniors to mix in with many of the younger athletes in a BJJ academy. So utilizing one on one private lessons can be a great way for a senior to improve their skill set and cater to their body's needs. The older an athlete gets, the less dynamic and intense the rolling sessions are. Seniors may look to roll more subtly or practice more techniques, as this will be an easier option for these students and better for their body. Some BJJ schools will organize special open mats, where students forty or over can roll with practitioners of their own age. Even though challenging the younger and more athletic practitioners can be worthwhile, it can also be daunting to an older athlete. In the moment, the older student will no doubt hold their own, or perhaps even win the roll, but in most cases, they will be paying for it the next day. Seniors will struggle to recover like the younger students in the academy, and this can cause them to miss training days. What all seniors need in their BJJ is continuity, and the only way they can make this happen is by looking after themselves, and choosing the appropriate training partners to roll with, considering the needs of their body.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR SENIORS TRAINING IN BJJ
There are many benefits that seniors can take out of training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For starters the physical benefits are outstanding, as the art will help students stay strong, and keep active. As a person begins to age their bodies will start to deteriorate, and they can leave themself open to illnesses like: diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. So it becomes vitally important to stay as active, and as healthy as possible. Another benefit that BJJ has to offer is the outstanding community that is involved in the art. Students will be able to make friends from all different walks of life, as the social networking in a BJJ academy is highly abundant. There is also the flexibility factor, as seniors will enjoy the mobility that they will attain from training in the grappling art.
One of the most important components of training in BJJ is the mental health benefits. Nowadays many people across the globe are suffering from different forms of mental health issues like domestic violence, physical abuse, bullying, and other forms of abuse. There is also a significant rise in conditions like autism, or physical disabilities, and BJJ has an outstanding program that helps all of these people strive for excellence. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community is one of the most accepting and nurturing forms of Martial Art, as they pride themselves on not just teaching students how to fight, but helping them overcome many of their adversities they may face in their day to day lives. Mental health is an epidemic across the globe, and art forms like BJJ are doing their part to help stem the tide, and give students the ability to connect with other people, while relieving stress, getting fit, and learning how to defend themselves.
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