“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” – we’ve all heard this saying before but it doesn’t mean its true. Anyone, regardless of age, can learn or try anything they want to, as long as they put their mind to it.
You may be thinking – maybe BJJ was something I should have started much earlier; I’m past my prime. But age shouldn’t be a factor, especially for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Anyone, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level can excel in BJJ. And the benefits of BJJ go beyond physical fitness – self-confidence, mental strength, the list goes on. If you think you’re too old to get better at BJJ, think again. Today, Evolve Daily shares 5 Things Older Grapplers Should Know:
1) Your training goals are different
The daily training goals for an older grappler are much more different than that of a younger student. Perhaps you’ve started BJJ as a way to get in better shape, or as a new hobby – your mindset will be completely different from that of a competitive athlete. Let’s face it; your body isn’t what it used to be. It may take you longer to recover than other students, or you may find it difficult to perform some of the techniques taught in class. Although this doesn’t mean that you should dismiss the thought of competing (there’s a master’s division, after all), you should listen to your body and know when to take it easy. Give yourself attainable goals and work from there.
2) Work on your defense
Although learning defense is important for any grappler, for an older grappler (who just started BJJ), proper defense could make all the difference in your longevity in training. Although you should learn offense, minimizing the risk of injury is of utmost importance. Thus, learning defensive strategies to prevent being placed in vulnerable situations will help you train longer.
3) There’s always a more older grappler friendly version of a technique
Think doing a berimbolo is totally out of your league? Don’t worry, there’s an older grappler friendly version of the berimbolo, which requires you to use your forehead instead of your neck to roll. Just like the berimbolo, there is always a way to modify a technique to suit your body type, flexibility and physical fitness. Next time you attend a class, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for advice on how to make a move work for you.
4) Get adequate rest
As a martial artist, the way you recover determines how soon you can go back to training. Regardless of your age, proper rest and recovery could make all the difference in your performance in training. As an older grappler, you’d want to get ample rest, because let’s face it, your body can’t recover as fast as it used to. Prioritize rest and recovery and prevent yourself from getting burnt out in training or worse, injured.
5) You have “old man strength” – use it
If you’ve never heard of “old man strength” before, perhaps its time you should. Old man strength is the phenomenon that lies behind the incredible strength in older men/women. Although studies show that there isn’t much truth behind “old man strength”, it doesn’t mean that older grapplers cannot remain strong or even become stronger. In fact, remaining active and training BJJ alone could increase strength and mobility and could increase hormone levels to an equivalent level of inexperienced younger adults.
6) Work hard to maintain your flexibility
You don’t have to be as flexible as Eddie Bravo or Caio Terra — as an older grappler, you need to stay flexible to prevent injury and increase mobility. Good flexibility also opens up your game and gives you more options technique-wise. When you’re flexible, your muscles are loose and stretched, helping you recover guard from the most unlikely positions. To work on your flexibility, take the time to stretch before or after class, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. By taking the time to focus on your flexibility, you’ll be able to train as long and as much as you want, even as an older grappler.
In martial arts, age is just a number. You’re never too old, or too young, for that matter — to get into the best shape of your life. So go forth and train hard, you got this!