Benefits Of BJJ After 40

Photo by: BJJPix

It has been said over and over that Jiu-Jitsu is good for any age and anybody.

While difficult and challenging for certain groups of people, I think we can all agree this is true. We have all seen the very young, the very old, and the handicapped do well and enjoy the art.

In fact, on multiple occasions, I have seen a few 80-year-old blue belts here in Oregon compete against each other, and this makes me so happy. To see two people who normally would live a sedentary lifestyle competing in a martial art which they both love is truly inspiring.

This got me thinking about how good BJJ is for the over-40 population. We often hear the term “BJJ over 40” and “old man Jiu-Jitsu”, but many of us take this idea for granted.

Jiu-Jitsu offers many great benefits to the over-40 population. Here are a few of the top things I came up with.

  1. New Passion– We often hear the term mid-life crisis around this age and this usually involves doing something to try and feel alive again after settling into what we now consider an average life. Some do this by buying new and expensive things, traveling, having a fling, or taking up a new hobby. Jiu-Jitsu is an awesome mid-life crisis. It is so much more sustainable and beneficial then simply spending money or living some short term event.
  2. Increased Health– Many people in their forties end up exercising less and many end up overweight. If Jiu-Jitsu is taken up, then practitioners over 40 will begin to regain lost health and possibly prevent or combat any worse conditions.
  3. Family Bonding– Many practitioners who get into BJJ after 40 end up signing up with their children or significant other. This is so good for the family. Many people in their thirties, forties, and fifties end up becoming detached from their family life somewhat. As kids get older, they automatically search for independence and tend to spend more time with friends than family. I have seen Jiu-Jitsu change this first hand and bring families back together.
  4. Stress Reliever– Lets face it. We all deal with stress. The over-40 population usually has it the worst, though. They often have the most bills, the most mentally-demanding jobs, a family to provide for, a retirement to plan for, and many other goals. As with all physical exercise, Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent way to relieve this stress.
  5. Sustainability– While many people work all their lives or at least to 65, some people are able to retire early at 55 or so. This is great, but sometimes, this leads to boredom and loss of interest in many things. Some people who retire just lose their passion for life. If a person can become involved in BJJ before this time, then he or she will always have something to work for.


Are you a BJJ practitioner who started after 40? How has BJJ affected your life?



  1. I started at 39. Bjj helped me in many ways. Physically, mentally and promoted better health and diet choices. I have travelled for bjj comps. I have brought my kimono on holiday and rolled wherever we were. Both my kids train and started when they were 6 yrs old. It is not for everyone IMO. There are those like me who get to do bjj and love it.

  2. I also started at 39, and have only been active for six months now. I got my first stripe a little while ago and the sense of accomplishment I felt was thrilling. I’ve always wanted to take a martial art of some kind and have been very happy with my studio. I’ve lost 14 lbs and am becoming a better fighter, a better person, and have found something that I love that keeps me in shape.

  3. Theoretically BJJ was invented for the weaker person, so that includes the highlanders, which is a word I prefer to the O(ld) word which I dislike. In practice obviously BJJ is dominated by the 20somethings. So all those things they tell you – conserve energy, take the path of least resistance, don’t use muscle – those are things that the over 40s don’t just say, we do, because it’s that or die. I guess what I’m saying is that I believe that bjj really reaches its pure form as we go on in years. The image that comes to mind is the story Xande tells about training with GM Helio, mounting him and saying, “Ok Grandmaster, what are you going to do now?” and GM Helio just lying there protecting his neck and saying, “I wait.” And then weaseling out of the choke at the last second. One of my black belt instructors talked about the difference between his passing game at 20 as opposed to now (he’s 51) and he said before he could stand up, sit down, do whatever, but now he said he knows he has one shot at the pass and he has to make it count. I’m not taking anything away from 20something bjj because I like fireworks too, even though to be honest when I see a healthy young guy playing for advantages it makes me want to scream. You people actually have energy, your bodies aren’t complete wrecks, for the love of Heaven play for keeps and put on a good show.

  4. I started at 43… and as a small female, I find it challenging. Younger students and teachers have been nothing but welcoming and enthusiastic. After 3 months my cardio has improved to the point I can go to an open mat and not be exhausted for 3-4 days afterwards, and can go back training a day or 2 later. I’d say compared to when I was younger, the ability to build up strength and reflexes is not the same, but that won’t stop me from continuing BJJ. I recommend it highly to anyone in middle age!! Doing yoga during my 20s and 30s has served me well, in terms of flexibility. Yes I get jealous of the explosive energy of the young ones. However the cerebral and self-investigative nature of BJJ is hugely appealing to me, and hence it’s not just about power and cardio, also strategy and the ability to learn not to always be reactive. I did read up on energy and training for people in middle age, and am taking creatin & other supplements for restorative and regenerative purposes., and ensuring I’m not doing anything stupid on the mat (have had a few injuries already), and just being patient about how long it’ll take for me to learn different techniques and to build up cardio capacity. I can relate to what dm’s teacher said – ” before he could stand up, sit down, do whatever, but now he said he knows he has one shot at the pass and he has to make it count” – I feel like I need to get smarter because after a few explosive moves in a row, I’m pretty damn tired! Hoping that’ll change a bit as my cardio and technique improves. I wonder where I’ll be in the BJJ path 10 years down the road. Just enjoying it now for what it is, and training smart, what more can we middle aged folks do?

  5. I started Jiu-Jitsu At 29 and have been teaching for over 20 years and even though not on the mat that much to learn I still love jiu jitsu. Now at 6 I get on the mat as much as possible. Have influenced many people and mad many friends. I plan on doing it for as long as possible.

  6. I am turning 46 years old this week. Jiu jitsu has changed my life in so many ways. I lost a lot of weight i had very little in the way of friends until i started jiu jitsu. Now i have a good life a professor not only in the gym but a freind as well outside of the gym. My team we are a extended family. We help one another. Professor ururahy you are the best.i can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me.defkone mma#1

  7. I found a wonderful BJJ class by accident, From the first class I was hooked, turned 40 this year and BJJ has helped me in many ways, its the best therapy, as I survivor from abuse in the past, the techniques and also element of self defense has empowered me and it has also made me confront some emotions of the past, (ps, was never good with people in my personal space).

    BJJ test me every time I get on the mat, as the writer above mentioned, I am small framed but my team mates have been nothing but considered and great teachers, my professor is a very good teacher.

    It takes me longer to recover but I am in no rush…. BJJ is about the journey not the destination.

    I am working towards my first stripe but not caught up in the promotions or titles… I just want to show respect to this martial art that is teaching me so much about myself.

    The only opponent I am interested in, is the one staring back at me, in the mirror.

  8. I started at 44 and it has made me a happier person. I am an obsessive type so when I started I was going 5-6 days a week, this has calmed a little bit over the last year and a half but still work hard to get in at least 3 days a week. My wife at first didn’t care much for how mush I was gone as the classes at my gym are later in the evening, but now if I miss a couple of days she kicks me out the door to roll because I am so much more pleasant to be around when I do. On top of that it has to be one of the best communities to be involved with, I have met so many good friends and everyone is very encouraging. Wish I had gotten involved years ago!!

  9. I will be 42 in January and I started BJJ about a month ago. I had wanted to try it ever since I was in college in the late 1990s, but I never had both the time and money at the same time. I finally have both and since I knew I needed to be more active, so I decided now is the time. I have already dropped 20 pounds, although I still jave a lot more I need to lose. And I feel a lot more alive then I have in a long time. I also have virtually no social life, so interacting with a lot of awesome people while training has basically become my social life. And everyone I train with is very welcoming and encouraging. A wise friend once told me that the best time to start something is when you’re suplosed to, and the second best time is now. I really wish I had started training a long time ago. Who knows where I would be in my journey now. But it is never too late and I excited to see where it takes me and what challenges it brings.

  10. i started at my 43 … i got my first stripe 2 months later.. i fight championships and i already got 3 medals in 11 months…. made my super agile,strong and i lost 7 kilos …. i got new friends and i also train with my litle son also 4,5 yo does classes..i am a kitesurfer since 2000 (the begining) but many times i skip kiting for BJJ.

  11. My daughter wanted to do MMA so my husband started looking around and found the local BJJ gym that offered BJJ and May Thai
    2 years later my husband is an addicted blue belt at 50 yrs and loves competing , I just got my 2 stripe white belt at 47 yrs old , my 11 yr old daughter is 2 yrs in , eldest daughter who started the ball rolling is sadly not doing it atm
    BJJ has changed our lives not just physically but spiritually emotionally and given us a whole new family under Roberto Traven
    Our club here is our family away from home (living os for the last 2 1/2 yrs ) and I recommend it to anyone
    The best thing we have done as a family


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