This is part one in a two-part series proving that when it comes to starting BJJ, age ain’t nothing but a number.
We could tell you all day long that age is no deterrent to starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But why take it from us? We pulled one of our members off the mats long enough to quiz him on everything from his current age (pushing 50) to his perspective on starting BJJ in his 40s. Spoiler – based on his experience, he thinks you should go for it.
Eric Raydon is one of three brothers who have made Guerrilla BJJ here at Freestyle Martial Arts a second home. But how did that happen?
“Honestly, I started BJJ because it’s a mandatory part of my Freestyle striking curriculum,” says Eric. “However, due to Scott’s leadership, I’ve come to really love it and now view it as a critical part of becoming a well-rounded fighter/athlete.
I was drawn to Freestyle because of its culture – a really strong, fun, open group of instructors and students, plus the curriculum is really cutting edge, with BJJ and striking becoming increasingly integrated. I had nearly earned my black belt in striking 24 years ago, but moved away before I could achieve that. I’d been searching for a new dojo for 20 years before I found Freestyle, and it just fit.”
BJJ in Your Mid 40s?
Believe it. It’s common for those picking up the sport later in life to worry that their age brings a few disadvantages. But it turns out, the opposite may be true.
“Not starting the sport later in life represents a bigger disadvantage because most people my age are kind of starting to let things go physically, which to me is a massive error,” Eric points out. “Freestyle has gotten me into the best overall shape of my life, and this is from a guy who’s stayed fit pretty much my whole adult life.”
What about injuries?
“I was worried a bit about injuries at first,” Eric shares, “but the reality is that I rarely get injured at Freestyle. I’m much more likely to get hurt on my mountain bike or snowboard than on the mats. The way Freestyle teaches martial arts is a big part of that – great facilities, great instructors, they really ease you into it. Plus, the culture at Freestyle is such that if you’re sparring with someone who’s going to hard, you simply tell them so, they chill out, and that’s that.
And a lack of flexibility, isn’t that an issue for the older crowd? What about rolling with someone half your age?
“The flexibility will come with mat time,” says Eric. “As far as rolling with younger people, it’s not terribly relevant – everyone develops their own game over time that plays to their own strengths and masks their own weaknesses. I’ve seen super strong, super fast young guys get submitted by men and women twice their age and half their size.”
and here’s the best part
So what was it exactly that snagged Eric? We just had to know, so we asked him. “The camaraderie, the fitness, and the knowledge that I’m learning new, invaluable skills and becoming a much more well rounded athlete,” he says. Man, do we love that.
But he’s not done.
“I’ve trained at a lot of different dojos over the years, and Freestyle and it’s instructors are far and away the best.”
Stay tuned for part two in our series, which we’re dedicating to all you late 30s, 40s and 50s wannabe-BJJ students. Stop wishing, and come do this. Eric’s ready to roll with you, and so are the rest of us.