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Jiu Jitsu For the Distinguished Elder: Is There a Point to BJJ When You Are Older?

Jiu Jitsu For the Distinguished Elder: Is There a Point to BJJ When You Are Older?


"I will probably not live long enough to ever get my black belt. But I really deeply enjoy the process of sucking a little less at something every day.”

~Anthony Bourdain

Every practitioner who steps on the mats has a dream. For some it is to win gold medals at competitions, while others hope to defend themselves if violently attacked. Most while belts aspire to earn their blue belts, and a great many students envision a black belt circling their waist in the very near future. 

Learn Common Sense Way To Beat The Guys In Your Gym & In Competition Who Only Train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques: Chael's Time Tested: Anti BJJ Secrets Will Blow Your Mind.


Out of all of jiu jitsu's mermaid whispers that lure mat sailors into murky waters, very few words are used to mention jiu jitsu's most important value for older grapplers: a positive community where real physical and intellectual contact occurs. Where else can an average person find a group of twenty or more people who make bodily contact for a few hours most days or nights of the week? 

As a 46 year-old blue belt, I can attest to the camaraderie that I have enjoyed in gyms across North America and Europe. It is that human connection to others that motivates me to get up out of bed early or to deal with cracking fingers after a tough Spider Guard session. At the same time, it is really difficult to square off against young guns trying to prove their worth on the mats. I know what they want, and I know how hard they will fight to get that submission. After a harrowing session, I often reflect and ask myself "What am I doing this for now?" I know I begin jiu jitsu because it was a lifetime goal to receive a belt rank in a martial art before I died. I also wanted to alleviate pain and a lack of mobility that had crept in over the years. Goals accomplished, so now what?

The American Gangster Head & Arm Choke From Chael Sonnen


Perhaps this is the greatest challenge for older grapplers: what is the point of training when it would be much easier to take up golf or armchair sports? I will never become a world champion. I may never receive a black belt. I can barely move my pinky finger because I think I broke it two months ago. What am I doing? This is the voice of the Ego, and it is the voice that we all have to battle when it comes to the struggle for growth. Really, sweating and crushing our partners into mats is not exactly a common endeavor. Being crushed and destroyed by younger, faster and stronger partners is definitely not a hobby most people you will meet will understand. It is a rather strange proposition upon retrospection. So, how can we find our compass to ensure that we stay onboard the ship until the next port is reached? 

Firstly, I think that the digital world has much to offer grapplers when it comes to motivation, confirmation and affirmation. Despite the challenges of mobility, strength loss and general grumpiness, I firmly believe that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a country for old men. We simply need to find the correct voices of experience to guide us along our paths until we gain proper footing and vision. One such voice is Chael Sonnen. Frankly, I could listen to him all day long. He just happens to have a voice that is both engaging and soothing at the same time; he is the Phil Collins of combat sports. And yet, Uncle Chael offers some pretty awesome foundational advice for any grappler over 40, whether it be in the pages of his book, The Four Pack Revolution, or his BJJ Fanatics offering, Gangster Grappling

Coming in at the age of 42 years old, you know that what Chael is teaching in his instructionals is possible for older grapplers to accomplish. Indeed, that is what his whole idea of the "four pack" revolution is about: what is realistic for us to accomplish while still pushing hard; what will keep us in the game? If you take a look at his Head & Arm Choke, then you will see a fundamental move that has proven to be my submission 74% of the time. No great flexibility, no massive strength accomplishments, just simple techniques of opportunity. 

Underhook Fundamentals - Chael Sonnen

Following Chael's series, I would strongly suggest taking a look at Fabiano Scherner's Mastering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu After 40: Top Game. Within his video series you will find a complete collection of techniques that can be used by the more distinguished grappler. Less of a positional study and more of an approach to the top game, Fabiano shares the game he coaches such MMA fighters as Paige Van Zandt and Chael Sonnen to follow. I cannot imagine a better place for an older grappler to learn a Double Leg or the Spinning Keen Bar from Half Guard. To further sell the series, there are few things more compelling than this testimonial by Chael Sonnen, himself.

Chael Testimonial 

Finally, for those of you who just simply aspire to survive on the mats I must offer up the work of Estonian iconoclast, Priit Mihkelson. I first encountered Priit in Iceland at a BJJ Globetrotter's Camp, and have to admit that he has both changed and validated my fundamental game of survival. With the positions of Turtle, Running Man, Sitting Turtle (Panda) and Grilled Chicken, I have found a way to survive longer and longer against grapplers who are simply far better than I am. Trust me, when you are at round 10 and you find yourself on the mats with the 220 pound frost giant you will want to be able to actively play Grilled Chicken guard escape to Turtle flow to Running Man then get to Panda and repeat.

At age 41, Priit's game is about intelligent opportunity and testing the theories of jiu jitsu. It is not a game to impress your coach who is yelling from the sidelines for you to finish your opponent, but it is a critical part of the game that will allow you to survive and frustrate your younger, faster and stronger upper belt until you can return to the attack. I know a player from Japan who is travelling back to Estonia this summer simply because he found such great success and relief on the mats by following the basics taught by Priit. Take advantage of the videos offered by BJJ Fanatics, especially his upcoming series on the Sitting Turtle/Panda position. Estonia can be a long journey, although a beautiful one, indeed. 

Turtle Vs Guillotine - Priit Mihkelson

What is the point of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a distinguished elder if it is not a black belt or accolades on the world stage? It is to be part of a richly rewarding community who agrees that the struggle, the everyday porrada, is what actually matters in the long run. As an older grappler your goal is to be on the mats when everyone else is too tired, too busy or too distracted. As BJJ Fanatic Chris Haueter reminds us: "It is not who's good, it's who's left." Be one of those who are still standing and ready for more!

Chael Sonnen Shows The All The Takedowns, Passes & Submissions That He's Used To Submit High Level Black Belts In UFC Main Events – And Many More On The Mean Streets Of West Linn Oregon




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