Older Grapplers Got It Going On!
I recently happened across an older YouTube video of Bernardo Faria interviewing Betty Broadhurst.
The subject of the interview was one that is of definite interest to me: Jiu Jitsu and the older grappler.
At the time this interview was filmed, Betty was a 61-year-old purple belt, and she represents everything that’s great about Jiu Jitsu.
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As an older grappler, Betty isn’t content to simply follow the herd. She’s cutting her own path. In addition to being a frequent competitor, she founded her own non-profit organization called “Roll Forever,” which supports older athletes and organizes seminars with world-class instructors.
If you frequent social media sites dedicated to BJJ, you’ve probably seen numerous queries from middle-aged men and women who are worried that they’re too old to start training. Betty is living proof that it is possible to start training later in life. But, more than that, her story reveals the strengths that older practitioners bring with them.
As a professional—in her case, a pharmacist—with years of experience, Betty had the knowledge to take her investment in Jiu Jitsu to another level. Her organizational skills gave her the ability to make the kinds of seminars she dreamed of, into reality.
While an older grappler likely has little chance of ever becoming a marquee athlete in BJJ, Betty’s take-charge attitude has allowed her to contribute immeasurably to the sport in other ways.
In terms of wear and tear on the body, Betty insists that BJJ has the opposite effect than you might imagine. She credits the gentle art with helping her maintain flexibility as the years pass. Training also helps her maintain her strength, which is a constant battle for those who’ve advanced into their 4th decade or beyond. Plus, Betty believes that Jiu Jitsu keeps her mind young, as well. As she constantly learns new techniques or adjusts to her opponent’s attacks during a roll, her mind remains agile and healthy.
Finally, while many older folks find themselves increasingly isolated during their advancing years, Jiu Jitsu allows Betty to be part of a community. Community involvement is another of those things that helps fend off mental and physical decline and can prevent the onset of depression, as well.
Betty also sees herself as a role model. In fact, she embraces the responsibility of serving as a role model, believing that—when people see her competing—it can give them the inspiration to become more active, too.
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That vision of herself as a role model is what inspired her to found the “Roll Forever” organization which supports Jiu Jitsu and older Jiu Jiteros by 1) sponsoring local athletes to compete, 2) bringing world-class athletes to the North Carolina community for instructional seminars, and 3) encouraging more organizations to hold competitions in the area.
As Bernardo Faria says, we would be lucky to have a Betty Broadhurst in every state, raising the quality of Jiu Jitsu across the entire nation.
For information on Roll Forever, see the group’s Facebook page. You can watch the entire interview below:
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