One commonly asked question in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is “Am I too old to train?”
The answer to this question is always “no,” and is usually followed by touching and sometimes long-winded explanations of why anyone – regardless of age, gender, or physical ability – can take part in the world’s most egalitarian martial art.
This article is not going to be one of those explanations, though.
Instead of repeating or paraphrasing the age old cliché about jiu-jitsu being “for everyone,” I am going to argue that the question of age and jiu-jitsu should not even be asked in the first place.
Though I sympathize with the people who ask it (being that I was once nervous about taking up BJJ) it is a question that not only wore out its welcome a long time ago, but undermines a person’s will to take the necessary first step of his or her potential jiu-jitsu journey.
The only thing too old for jiu-jitsu is the question of whether or not you are too old for jiu-jitsu, and here are four reasons you need to stop asking it.
It is baseless
Some of the worries “older” people have about starting jiu-jitsu are:
1) They might get hurt
2) They don’t want to be the old guy/gal at the gym
3) They won’t live long enough to get their black belt (and yes, I have actually heard this one)
To all of which I would reply:
1) Roll lightly
2) No one cares about your age
3) Die with a purple belt around your waist
I could go on and on with all of the reasons people have listed for thinking they are too old for jiu-jitsu, but much like the previous three, not one of them will hold any strength.
You owe it to yourself to give jiu-jitsu a shot. So, at the risk of sounding like a bad advertisement, why not do it today?
It has been answered . . . repeatedly!
Type “Am I too old for Brazilian jiu-jitsu” into the search engine of your choice and read the first three articles that appear.
How many of those articles said you could not practice BJJ at your age? I am going to guess somewhere between zero and zero.
The same thing would almost certainly happen if you read the next ten or even twenty articles.
And if that is not enough to convince you, read about Chuck Norris and Helio Gracie.
Norris is seventy-five years old and he recently received a third-degree black belt endorsed by Jean-Jacques Machado. Helio died at ninety-five and taught class days before he passed.
The question of age and jiu-jitsu has been answered over and over again: if you are older than three and your heart is still beating, you can train.
It focuses on your (perceived) disadvantages
When you ask if you are too old to start jiu-jitsu, you immediately assume age is a disadvantage.
But is it?
While youth certainly has its benefits, age also has its strengths. Not only do you have far more years of life experience behind you, but there is also a growing body of evidence suggesting you may be a better decision maker, something that could certainly improve your jiu-jitsu.
But even if age were a disadvantage, why would that matter?
Jiu-jitsu is not The Hunger Games. You are not in some brutal, kill-or-be-killed competition where only one student will walk out of the gym with his or her head and neck firmly intact.
Jiu-jitsu is about making yourself better. Nothing more.
It will cut into your training time
If you are sitting around wondering if you are too old to start jiu-jitsu, you are not training.
Not training cuts into your training time.
Cutting into your training time is bad.
Therefore, you need to stop sitting around and wondering if you are too old to start jiu-jitsu.
I apologize if that sounds blunt, but it is just that easy. The more time you sit around asking if you should start training, the less time you will have to train.
The road to jiu-jitsu black belt is one of the hardest and most rewarding journeys you will ever take, but you need to make it to the gym first.
So (again, at the risk of sounding like a bad advertisement), call up your local gym and start your first class today.
As a 50 yo blue belt, I completely agree.
52 yo white belt, still training 4 days a week..
Just started BJJ at 45. And a woman. My training buddies are awesome, and I love it! 🙂
67 yr old female purple belt and I agree.
Started at 58 two years in and love it. I hope to die with a third stripe on my white belt.
I started at age 72. I will be 74 in March and now I am addicted to BJJ. It is the smartest retirement move I made.