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Am I too old to start Jiu Jitsu?

Over my years of doing martial arts many new students have asked me, “Am I too old to start Jiu Jitsu?” Well the short answer is a resounding NO! I’ve seen men and women well into their 50’s and 60’s start Gracie jiu jitsu and get a new lease on life. I have friends who have told me that friends of theirs into their 70’s have started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Yes, it may not be the norm but it definitely is possible.

never too old for jiu jitsu

The reality is though that while you may be able to start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it could be problematic to stay on the mat. So here’s 5 pointers to increase your time on the mat and have a bit more fun as well.

  1. Slow down! Reducing your speed will do a few things. It will help you see what’s happening so you can have time to react accordingly. It will also help you keep track of all parts of your body as you move. If you move too fast especially when you are starting out everything happens in a blur. That’s usually when fingers and toes get jammed into the mat or you post on your arm the wrong way.
  1. Self preservation! Taking it to the edge of reason time after time is never a good idea. At the end of the day the only person who has to look after you is you. Yes your training partners are supposed to help but do yourself a favour. Never assign that responsibility to another person. After all, they are trying to get the tap it’s up to you to tell them to stop.
  1. Choose your rolls wisely! You don’t have to roll with the young bulls straight away. Find some guys in your martial arts academy who have similar goals. Maybe they are professional people like doctors or lawyers who love jiu jitsu but don’t want to roll like it’s the mundials every round. Of course at some point you will probably have to roll with the young guns. If you remember to keep the pace down they should reciprocate and follow your speed.
  1. Listen to your body. Training hard is great, but the whole point is getting a few sessions in a week. What’s the point of doing one hard session and not being able to train for the rest of the week. Try and slowly build your workload so that your body gradually adjusts to the work you are asking it to do. In this way you will increase your workload to where you want it to be.
  1. Keep your limitations in mind. Not all moves are for everybody. If you have a bad lower back, inverting and berimbolo’ing might not be the game for you right now. Start to see a physio or exercise physiologist and try and correct some of your body’s limitations and flexibility issues. Work up to some of the more complex moves. In most cases there are precursors to the movements that make up the complex moves. Start by practicing these with little or no resistance. Then over time increase the difficulty.

This isn’t a definitive list by any means but starting with a few simple concepts like these should help you stay on the mat. Remember jiu jitsu isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon that you could do for the rest of your life!