Ego and the over 40’s

There’s no room for ego in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and that applies even more so when it comes to being in your 40s and trying to compete with people 20 years your junior. Keeping up with a 20 year old is not usually possibly for the average 40 plus year old, we need to train more intelligently and slow down the pace if we can.

I know from personal experience that it is incredibly hard to accept that you cannot do what you did when you were 20, even 30 years old but its a fact of life unfortunately. However, just because we get older, that doesn’t mean to say we have to give up doing what we love. We just need to be more careful, take our time and accept that there are things we just have to avoid doing.

I love BJJ and hope to continue doing it forever but in order to do so I need to be smart and follow a few simple guidelines.

Here are some tips for the over 40’s based on my own personal experience

Accept your Limitations

Do not try to match the strength, stamina, speed and endurance of somebody 20 years your junior. There’s no point, they will better you every time. Accept that you are not as resilient as you used to be and if you don’t train smart then you are more than likely going to get injured.

Choose your Rolls

You should always be mindful about who you roll with. Some people hurt you, no matter how careful they try to be. Unless your coach has specifically told you otherwise, you should choose to roll with people who you can trust to roll safely. That’s not to say you should avoid difficult rolls or pick easy rolls, on the contrary, but you do need to be smart about who you roll with. If you weigh 60kg don’t be rolling with somebody who is 95kg, that’s just not smart. If you were 20 years old and 60kg and your opponent was 40 and 95kg, then that’s different and would probably be quite an evenly matched roll.

Despite what some people say, age and weight can matter when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Do not roll with people who you know will hurt you

Regardless of age or size, some people are just blatant idiots, this applies to white belts right through to black belt, although in most cases most brown and black belts have all but lost their ego and are usually safe. Some people just thrive on rolling hard and invariably they injure their opponent, whether unintentionally or otherwise. Other people roll hard, even when they are supposed to be slow rolling, there’s just something in their head that they can’t turn off. If you know from experience that somebody has real trouble understanding the difference between training hard and being a dick, then avoid them

We shouldn’t be afraid of rolling hard when necessary but don’t get into a war of attrition.

Tap Early

There is absolutely no point spending 4 or 5 minutes trying to muscle out of a submission that is blatantly on. Especially when your opponent is 20 years younger and has the endurance of a triathlete and the strength of an ox.

  • Be Smart
  • Check your Ego
  • Tap Out
  • Start Again

Take a few Days Off

These days I only roll 2 – 3 times per week. Its enough. Tuesday and Thursday evenings I roll no gi with a group of guys who are all blue belt and above, many of whom are amateur and professional mma fighters. Even though I am usually older than most people by 20 years, everybody trains safe and everybody is respectful of who they are rolling with. Mondays or Wednesdays I usually roll in a gi class, this is a harder session for me because there are white and blue belts in the class who don’t purposefully try to hurt me but still have a point to prove. If I try and match them, I will most certainly injure myself. Dependent on who I am rolling with, I oftentimes play a good defensive game in the gi classes.

I often feel sore and more exhausted after the gi classes which is ironic as the gi usually slows the pace. Perhaps because I am on bottom a lot.

Don’t Judge Yourself by the Progress of Others

It took me around 3 years to achieve my blue belt and then a further 2 years to achieve my purple. During that time I witnessed other, younger people join the gym and receive their blue in 1 year and others receive their purple in 12 – 18 months. I have also noticed people who started training at the gym 3 or 4 years later than me, catch me up and even overtake my progress at an alarming rate. Guys I used to dominate are now dominating me. You have probably seen similar things happen in your gym? That my friends is Jiu Jitsu Evolution. Don’t let it phase you or bother you, if you look at those people who got promoted much quicker or started well after you but have suddenly progressed well beyond you, you will probably see somebody who is usually a lot younger, who can train a lot more than you and who has the athleticism, youth and resilience to not get fatigued or injured. Don’t worry about it.

Focus on your own growth and not somebody else’s