Stephan’s note: todays’s tip is brought to you a guest columnist, my friend Don Whitefield (www.jiujitsulife.com). Not only does he offer good advice for older BJJ players, but if young punks were to adopt some of the advice I guarantee they’d get better faster…
I don’t consider myself old at age fourty-two, but I know that my Jiu-Jitsu game differs a lot from the game of an eighteen year old. Anyone over thirty is considered either a Master or Senior in BJJ competition, and it is important for these students to understand the special rules that apply to them in order to make it to their black belt and beyond.
1. Rule: Roll Smart
Even if you feel like it don’t take the young spaz by the horns and get tossed around. Give them a little space to protect yourself, even if it means giving up position. Another good strategy is to stay on the top for a while or keep them in your guard (if you can) and tire them out to equalize the playing field a bit.
The most important advice is to avoid unusual positions unless you are positive that you can trust your training partner to look out for you. Often injuries occur when senior students get into unfamiliar position and they and/or their partner make a wrong move in the heat of battle resulting in injury. You have to be able to completely rely on your partner before you can open up your game.
2. Rule: Protect your body
I see teens and kids in my BJJ classes sometimes bend their joints at angles that make me shiver, but after the initial squeal they usually are back on the mat within five minutes. Their tendons and bones are flexible, but we loose this luxury as we age. The problem is that this occurs slowly and unnoticed and we sometimes spar as if we were still teenagers.
We become only aware of our age when we have (painfully) gone beyond the flexibility of our body. Since our recovery time is a lot longer than five minutes try to follow this simple rule we have in my academy: “Tap today, train tomorrow”. It reminds you to tap early even if you are not in a submission but just get caught awkwardly.
3. Rule: Recover smartly
It is sad that as teenagers we got away with 4 hours of sleep, eating only fried foods and sugary carbonated drinks. As you get older these sins will catch up with you, so change these habits if you still live that way. As a senior jiu-jitsu fighter you should get lots of sleep, water, protein, fruits, veggies and supplements; these will help you stay in the game (or get back into it if you get injured).
Be smart and recognize when you are injured: take the week off than have the injury turn chronic. Stretch every day to maintain your body’s flexibility. It protects you while you roll and helps you to overcome injuries much faster. Once you return to the mats don’t hesitate to point out your injury to your training partner so he can look out for you if necessary. Get medical advice early on if you get an unfamiliar injury, read up on it and educate yourself regarding recovery and prevention of these injuries.
Lastly, use your maturity and your ability to keep your cool as an advantage to prevent injuries, recover from them and protect yourself from future injuries. There is one good thing about not being a teenager anymore: You got a lot smarter since.