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55-year-old Colin Slider trains Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu almost every day. In fact, he averages about 12-14 hours a week. It’s easy to spot Colin – he’s usually the highest ranked student on the mats, with a third degree stripe on his brown belt. He’s also one of the only 55-year-old students on the mat, ready to bump fists with whoever is willing.
It’s safe to say that Colin Slider isn’t your average 55-year-old. After all, how many 55-year-olds do you know who train BJJ? Before starting BJJ, Colin began his martial arts journey very briefly with Shotokan Karate then practiced Aikido for 10 years. He earned the rank of nidan or second degree black belt in Aikido. A father of 3 adult children, 2 of whom are martial artists themselves, Colin has certainly started quite the legacy.
Before he started martial arts, Colin explained that he was a workaholic. “Work took over my life. I would work 12-14 hours a day then hit the pub and drink for a few hours before going home to sleep,” shares Colin. “But fortunately, I realized that I was headed for a burnout, or worse, so I made a conscious decision to reduce my working hours, spend more time with my family and get myself fit again.”
The decision to get fit came after a very alarming wake-up call. “I was 36 years old and about 87 kg. I woke up one day and couldn’t close my trousers because I was too fat. That was the day I decided to lose weight and get fit.” Colin said. “I spent a year following the Body for Life program and dropped from 87kg to 72 kg – but honestly I found traditional gym workouts and running kind of dull with little mental challenge. Knowing that I was looking for something that would challenge me physically as well as mentally a friend who was an aikido instructor invited me to try a class.”
Colin’s love for martial arts only grew after he earned his black belt in Aikido. After trying out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2009, Colin was hooked. Today, he is one of Evolve MMA’s most active students. Because of BJJ, Colin has managed to consistently keep his weight down to 73-75 kilos – a rare feat for a middle-aged man. Most importantly, it has also helped him keep his severe migraines at bay. “My migraines would be so bad that I would sometimes bang my head on a wall to try and stop the pain,” says Colin. “Since I lost the weight, cut out alcohol, and started eating better because of BJJ, my migraines have been less frequent and very rarely of the same severity.”
Not only does Colin enjoy the physical benefits of BJJ, he also considers it to be one of the best stress relievers. “You get to switch your brain to training mode and forget everything outside of the training, and honestly when you’re sparring you don’t have time to think about work deadlines, the rent/ mortgage, and other mundane things,” Colin says. In fact, he enjoys BJJ so much that he would want to continue to do it as long as he can. “Although I’ll inevitably get slower and weaker, I’ll just have to adapt my game to suit my changing physical abilities.”
It is this same mindset that keeps Colin coming back to the mats. The need for open-mindedness is what constantly draws him further into the art. “Every time you roll is different and there are almost an unlimited number of techniques and variations – everyone’s BJJ style is adapted to suit their own body and their current technical ability – so it never gets boring. The guy you submitted easily half a dozen times a few months ago comes back and now perhaps you only submit him once or twice and have to work harder for those because he’s learned from the last time and has worked to improve,” Colin explains.
Despite his beliefs, one thing still stands – Colin is considerably more mature than most of the students. Because of his mindset, it is easy for him to adapt to whoever his training partner is, regardless of their age. He has never felt that starting BJJ at such a late age has put him at a disadvantage. Colin says, “I knew going in that I couldn’t hope to compete with the young guys using speed, because I only have two speeds – slow and stop. So I have developed a pressure game when on top and worked hard on developing my defense and my half-guard game. In a similar way that small people tend to be technically better than big strong people, I have had to work on being technically better.”
Colin also gets his fair share of “old man” jokes. In fact, his instructors call him “toro velho”, or old bull in English, because of his grappling style. “I also have some people ask me what life was like before cars, TV, phones – it’s all very light-hearted and I don’t take any offense. And I think I probably dish out more than I receive,” laughs Colin.
For the older grappler, Colin shares a few words of wisdom: “Don’t try to match the young guy’s speed – you have to slow the game down to your speed. Develop a pressure game – it’s a great equalizer and if you can maintain pressure the guy on the bottom will be uncomfortable and will get tired. I remember one of Carlson Gracie Jr.’s students sum it up as — don’t panic, don’t rush, just crush.”
There’s no doubt that Colin Slider is an inspiration to many students both young and old. His positive attitude is certainly one we could all adapt into our own martial arts journey, regardless of our age.