Getting older sucks. You feel like your life's passed you by already, and you end up wanting to relive the days when you were younger and more lively. You may even feel like a lot of things are just not good for you anymore, that you're "too old" for them.
But I can tell you one thing: BJJ isn't one of them. It's a great way to feel like you're still strong and powerful, because BJJ will make you strong and powerful--and keep you that way. Today, we'll be looking into why BJJ is great for you, even if you're 30-plus!
Is 30 Too late for BJJ?
No, 30 is not too late for BJJ. It'll probably be intimidating at first, I'll admit. Majority of the people you roll with will likely be younger, fitter men, and it'll suck getting beat by them.
But BJJ was built off of the idea that anyone can learn it, no matter who they may be or what background they may have come from.
And that isn't just a marketing scheme either. Helio Gracie, one of the founders of BJJ, was smaller and frailer than his brothers, and he needed to find a way to compete while still accounting for his size disadvantage. The end result to that was the BJJ we have now.
Remember, BJJ is one of the preeminent self-defense sports out there for a reason. By applying what Helio has learned, jujitsukas will be able to take down their opponents, regardless of how much stronger they may be.
So if you're worried those younger folks will tear you apart... well, they will. There's really no sugarcoating around that. But that's by design. That's what happens when you have a sport that allows technique to outshine strength!
Eventually, you'll find that you've caught up with them, that you're just as capable as they are. Yes, you'll likely start off sluggish and awkward at first, but the results will come in their own time!
What Should You Expect When Starting Late In Life?
It's entirely reasonable to have this kind of hesitation, but just remember: everyone starts off with doubts.
They may feel as if they're too small. They may feel as if they're too slow. They may even feel the opposite way you do, that they're too young and shouldn't be training at such an early age.
So trust us, you're not alone. This is just how the sport goes. We know that "age is just a number" is an adage that gets repeated way too often, but in this case, it really is true.
Your age is just one fear out of many others that you think is holding you back. Everyone has these kinds of fears, and everyone learns that they're not worth the time.
Knowing that older grapplers won't achieve the same kind of results as younger people do due to factors such as slower reflexes and decreased muscle memory is essential for setting achievable goals and maintaining motivation levels throughout your grappling journey.
Granted, there are also people who are just way too eager. They enter the dojo thinking they're the best in the business, and they're probably a bit too overenthusiastic about putting you into a joint lock.
But BJJ is an excellent equalizer. Everyone gets their ego checked here, and everyone learns that they're just not the best--even if they pretend to be. It's why the sport is so good at teaching discipline and respect.
Just be sure to set reasonable expectations for yourself. You're definitely not going to be competing in any major competitions for a while, and your slower reflexes will probably bite you in the bum every now and then.
But that's entirely okay. What's important is that you keep learning, keep growing, and keep having fun!
What Are The Benefits Of Starting At 30?
BJJ isn't just a self-defense art. It's also a great full-body workout. Training is a great way to keep you in shape, which is going to be incredibly important for your overall health, especially given the unwanted medical vulnerabilities that come naturally with age.
As you train, you'll notice that you don't just maintain your strength, posture, and endurance, you'll actually improve it. The negative effects of muscle atrophy and decay caused by age can be easily reversed by a nice, clean, brutal BJJ workout.
It's also a great way to slow down aging. You're not going to magically slash a year off your age, obviously, but later down the line, you'll be much less vulnerable to diseases like arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other common ailments that typically affect the elderly.
There are more subtle benefits too. If you start BJJ at a later age, then you'll likely find a greater appreciation for the discipline. You're very unlikely to be naïve, given your far broader experiences in life, and you truly understand what it takes to master something.
That also means you'll probably have greater respect for the sport in general. You'll be more careful, more methodical, and you won't be as eager to get good, at least not like younger practitioners who may be more impatient or overeager.
How to Properly Get Started With Training
You can start by looking into local gyms and instructors, getting a good feel of what options you have in your area. It's no secret that every dojo has its own culture and sense of community, and sometimes the one you run into just won't be for you.
That's okay. It's entirely reasonable if you just can't get a good vibe out of a place, and this is true even if you weren't older. Sometimes things just don't click. It's better to find out now and move on than to have a miserable BJJ experience, just because you found it hard to get along with everyone.
Once you've found the right dojo for you, take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the basics. Of course, these are all things that you'll learn in class eventually, but you'll need every advantage that yo ucan get.
Also try to condition yourself beforehand. A lot of the difficulty in BJJ comes from how exhausting it can be and on how much of a toll it can take on your body. Remember that younger, fitter practitioners already struggle with this, so there's no reason to assume that you won't either.
You don't have to overdo it. Even some light running around your neighborhood will go a long way. What matters is that you get your body into the right frame for exercise.
Tips For Older Grapplers To Stay Safe While Training
Older grapplers looking to stay safe and injury free while training must take extra precautions not just for the sake of their form, but for the long term health of their joints.
You should definitely be excited to go into your dojo every session, but also remember that you are more risk-prone than others. There is a positive correlation between a practitioner's age and their likelihood for injury, which is... well, not positive for you.
Safety should always be everyone's number one concern, but that's all the more the case for you. Majority of joint-related issues in martial arts come from improper technique or excessive strain, so it really wouldn't hurt to take a few extra precautions, even if it's just for the sake of taking them.
Also be sure to pay attention to your body and respond to its needs. BJJ demands a lot of endurance, and it isn't your fault if you feel like you can't catch up.
If you find yourself too tired to continue, take as long of a breather as you want. Stay hydrated before, during, and after sessions. If you start to feel anything in any joint in your body, be sure to inform both your instructor and a trusted doctor.
Warm up properly before you start practicing, don't try anything you know you're not ready to handle yet, and always make sure you've got your protective gear on you.
The Wrap Up
You're doing yourself a huge favor by getting into BJJ. It doesn't matter if it's at a later age or not, because you're still giving your body what it needs--or you still know to reward yourself for all the hard work you put into your life!
Don't be afraid to start. It'll be difficult and awkward at first, but this is true for everyone, regardless of what doubts they might have. Once you do start though, be ready for a lot of pain, difficulty, and hardship--and surprise yourself when you realize you've learned to love it all!
Curious what you can do to survive your first month in BJJ? We've got you covered!