BJJ at 40…. Why? The IBJJF defines 36-40 year old competitors as senior. No other area of society, other than sports, are young men and women referred to as seniors. Most would agree that 40-year-olds are middle aged, but not senior. The 20’s are the new teens, the 30’s the new 20’s, and the 40’s the new 30’s. There have been many athletes to accomplish great things beyond 40-years-old. Former NFL player and current BJJ brown belt Jarrod Bunch has won gold medals in the 18-29 division of IBJJF tournaments.
These examples of youth are the exception not the norm. There are plenty of examples of athletes in their 40’s and 30’s that did not know when to say enough is enough. A shell of their youthful careers. The body gets slower, weaker, and does not recover as quickly as we continue through life.[social][/social][einset][/einset]
What makes a 40-year-old want to train in BJJ? At 29 Karl Pravec began training in jiu-jitsu. The Renzo Gracie black belt now 47-years-old says that BJJ is about “challenging [einset][/einset]yourself to be better”. Learning and executing good technique and leverage means success in BJJ not age according to Pravec. Carlos Machado black belt Alvis Solis set a lofty goal at 46 to compete in 50 BJJ tournaments by the time he is 50. Solis’s motivating journey can be followed at www.50by50blog.com. It is obvious that Alvis wants to challenge himself. A challenge that cannot be satisfies through exercise or sports like tennis or golf.[bjj][/bjj]
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a contact sport – a contact sport that’s a “gentle art”. Boxing and karate require athleticism, power, and quickness to be successful. Those traits can allow a BJJ practitioner to be successful, but it is not a requirement. As mentioned by Karl Pravec… success in BJJ is about technique and leverage. Another consideration is that there are always bruises, black eyes, and busted lips associated with the striking arts. While there is muscle aches that go along with BJJ, there is only an occasional black eye or busted lip that you may encounter.
Are the above reasons still enough for middle aged folks to want to participate in this sport?
No… Wrestling and judo are sports that have similar characteristics to BJJ. They’re definitely not jiu-jitsu. BJJ is more than a sport. It’s a test – a game. It requires intelligence and skill. Marcelo Garcia brown belt Leo Kirby says that the reason he trains is because of the mental aspect. At 49-years-old and 10 years of experience, Kirby enjoys the mental side of BJJ that goes along with the physicality. Leo’s reasons are part of the essence of jiu-jitsu. Capitalizing on your adversaries mistakes, forcing your adversary to make a mistake, and tricking your adversary into making a mistake.
That’s one reason many smaller guy’s can tie bigger guy’s into a knot….. Or older guy’s tying younger guy’s into a knot.
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Good article Mike. Would love to have seen you dive in a little deeper into such highly controversial subjects as the classifications of 60-70 and 70-80 year old BJJ competitors. Maybe in a future article….
This is exactly why I do BJJ at my age.
Fantastic article it is very inspiring to see older guys still competing.It gives me the confidence to keep training without the worries of injuring myself.
A life long athlete, my sports career ended abruptly in my mid thirties due not only to aging but numerous health issues as well.
It was not until well into my forties that I discovered Jiu Jitsu. Now at 47 and a newly minted blue belt, I am looking forward to the challenges of training and competing into my sixties and perhaps beyond. Questions still abound. Will my body hold up? Will I be able to work my way to black belt at this age? I look forward to finding out.