There’s an old quote that’s often adapted and shared when it comes to starting BJJ later in life. “The best time to start training BJJ was 10 years ago. The second best time is now.” It underscores the fact that it really is never too late to get started, as long as you have the interest and the discipline. Here are three keys if you’re starting BJJ later in life.
A Technical Focus
Of course, youth has its advantages when it comes to conditioning, physical ability, and recovery. But the wisdom of perspective comes with age, along with sounder decision-making skills. BJJ is an activity based on the use of momentum and leverage. That’s why smaller opponents can beat bigger, stronger competition. It’s not about brute strength. Technical ability is a huge factor in success, so make this a focus. Learn and hone different techniques. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to find openings to execute them.
As a beginner, particularly if you’re older, the focus should be on keeping things light and working through the movements. Breaking down techniques into their individual components and focusing on drilling to hone your skills is a great way to practice without overly stressing your body.
Dial your expectations to the reasonable category. Base them on your personal fitness, discipline, and general ability to pick things up. You may find that you can really keep up with younger students, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t. You may find that recovery is slower, which limits your ability to progress. You may have obligations off the mat that also impede your progress. If you have to take things a little slower, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Don’t Rush It
The people who enjoy training BJJ the most are those who approach it as a personal journey of improvement. That’s how you use this sport to truly become a better version of yourself. Avoid comparing yourself to others in class. Remember, you’re all at different spots on this journey, and comparison is frustrating and pointless.
Avoid getting wrapped up in the “I’m not where I need to be” spiral. It may take you a little longer to pick up certain techniques, and that’s fine. Especially in the beginning, there’s much to be learned. Give your body and brain time to adjust. Progress can be slow and still count.
If you’re reading a post like this, you’re clearly debating beginning BJJ. Stop thinking about it! If you’re in Reno or Sparks, consider this your personal invitation to Guerrilla BJJ. Get in here already!