BJJ for the over 50s - part three (of three blog posts)

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by Vince Millett, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award


    In this third part of our look at BJJ for the over 50s, we look at two key questions. What do instructors need to know and what do younger training partners need to know?

    What instructors should know

    Some answers to this question were, perhaps, to be expected and referred to physical limitations.

    • A couple of people mentioned their hearing and asked instructors to speak clearly.
    • A few respondents said that older people learn a little more slowly and that instructors should be patient. Some also mentioned the physical inability to keep up with much younger students. A small number said that care by instructors in allocation of sparring partners is important.

      If someone over 50 does not have the same level of performance as a 21 year it might not be due to laziness.


    • About two thirds spoke about having less flexibility and that injuries take longer to heal. They ask that instructors allow for this and allocate sparring partners with care. Allow the older student to work at their own pace.

      Be careful who you pair them up with. Don't expect them to keep up with athletes in their 20s. A decent instructor is constantly checking everyone's progress and reactions to training and makes adjustments accordingly.


    • There were a few comments about instructors’ attitudes.

      Yep. We've lived a life, worked, raised families, fought in wars, made mistakes. Please don't talk to us like we're children if we don't get stuff first time we get shown it.

      Andy Harris

      Look after them and understand their limitations and health issues, teach the correct Jiu jitsu that is not based on athleticism and time limits.

      Recognise older students far more likely to have other obligations in life, such as family, kids, multiple businesses. As such, less time in life to devote to BJJ. Does not mean we don't love BJJ, but cannot train 6 days a week like younger training partners.
      Frankie V

      A decent instructor is constantly checking everyone's progress and reactions to training and makes adjustments accordingly.

    • There were a few people who felt that instructors didn’t need to know anything in particular about teaching over 50s.
    What younger team mates should know

    • There were several comments about respect and about not going too hard when rolling – the older grappler has nothing to prove. Some said not to worry about going too hard but to be careful when applying submissions as older people heal more slowly. Apply submissions more gradually.

      You don't get older without getting wiser. Don't take the ****, you may want to date our daughters.

      Andy Harris.

      Go for it, I'm here because I want to do it, but I don't want war every round and neither should you!
      John A Murray

      Someone over 50 has already beaten the odds simply by turning up. Dial down the macho competitiveness and just enjoy training with each other. Over 50s have already won that day simply by turning up…

    • There was some direct advice for the younger training partner…

      If you purposely try to humiliate or injure me I will mess you up.


      Beware beats speed every time!

    • And finally…

      They are lucky, we didn't have BJJ when we were their age. Be grateful. Age is a terrible thing that catches up with you quicker than you think. Do it all now.

      Us over 50s are awesome and they will realise it one day, but not until they are over 50.
      BJJ Biker
    Hopefully, this short blog series has been useful. I hope it has also been an encouragement to some oldies who now know they're not on their own - there are plenty of us out there!

    A big “Thank you!” to those who completed the survey and apologies if I didn’t directly quote you.

    axelb likes this.
  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Nice post! Thanks for sharing.

    As a sports physical therapist who regularly treats several BJJ practitioners aged over 45, I would add the following points (a mixture of advice from my clients, and my own professional opinion):

    • Get your posture and fundamental movement patterns (e.g. squat, lunge) assessed by a practitioner skilled in movement screening, ideally someone who has attended FMS I/II or similar. This applies whether you're about to start BJJ, or you have several years under your belt. As a middle-aged (or older) practitioner, you're entering a physically demanding sport (regardless what level you practice at) with a lifetime of bad movement habits that will probably hinder your training and/or be made worse by it.
    • Invest in regular appointments with a good manual therapist, to address any postural faults (see above) and to promote recovery after training.
    • Invest in a foam roller to do soft tissue techniques at least once a day away from the gym; think of it as recovery and longevity homework.
    • For the love of god, do strength exercises at least twice a week and stretch every day. You're entering the era of your life when you'll start experiencing age-related regression in joint mobility; strength exercises done through the full range of motion, combined with regular static stretching, can halt and even reverse this regression.

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