Off to the Glue Factory? Jiu-Jitsu for Middle-Aged Adults

Stephan Teaching a Group

Here’s a question I received recently:

Q: “I’m 56 years old and in pretty good health except for a few old injuries. My question is whether it is it too late for me to start training in grappling without wrecking my body too badly? (I’m not interested in competition).

A: I’ve actually addressed this topic quite often in the past few years (maybe that’s because I’m turning 40 this summer).

In any case, my answer is a guarded ‘Yes.’You can definitely start training and make progress, BUT it depends on a few critical factors:

  • You HAVE to be careful
  • You HAVE to go slow when you spar, and be ready to tap out when you get caught in submissions (or even awkward positions).
  • You HAVE to watch out for overtraining (also known as under-recovery)
  • You probably SHOULDN’T train at a school with a lot of young studs who all want to fight in the UFC
  • You might want to consider taking BJJ, not submission grappling. There is often a lot of testosterone and explosive movement in submission grappling, which tends to lead to worse injuries than the more controlled and methodical sparring in BJJ.

And here is some more reading that you might want to do before you start:

To balance all this out, keep in mind that you’re still younger than my teacher (and inspiration) Dan Inosanto when he started Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And now he’s a very respectable BJJ black belt…

Good Luck!

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