5 Tips For Getting Older in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The adage “Never quit” is common in Jiu Jitsu. This means you don’t ever stop training. Yet when we grow older we seem to have many injuries, habits or life events that make us stop.

It’s nothing personal it’s simply what happens. Not everyone has the time when they have kids. Not everyone has the time to learn how to protect themselves. Here are 5 tips that can help you stay in the game longer.

1. Make a goal to attend class at least once per week. And make the goal limited to two days so in case you miss one you have another to make up for missing the one day. For example, maybe you choose to train Monday and Thursday. This gives you a back-up day in case you miss one day. And you may find time for two days which can help to achieve the next goal which will eventually be two days per week when you are ready.

2. Seek out safe training partners. The people who say you should train with everyone are well-meaning. That’s cool. I get it. But not everyone is safe. And if you don’t have the skill-set to thwart a young hungry lion who is dangerous, you can be sidelined with a surgery to remind you of that situation.

3. Don’t train often on the feet (unless you know what you are doing). I love takedowns and teach them. But as a former school owner the worst injuries I saw were from takedowns. It’s not that wrestling or Judo are bad. It’s just that if you don’t have a good handle on either you can risk a serious injury. If you can learn takedowns and still feel safe then that’s fine. I’m just giving you my take from spending a healthy amount of time watching injuries occur as a school owner. In 5 years the most serious injuries I saw were when a good Judo player sparred against a beginner and their ankle did a 180 degree turn on a Judo trip. I saw a normal wrestling takedown that blew out a knee, and saw a broken neck (not paralyzing but career ending) from a wrestling scramble. Of course other injuries happen. We get into situations we do not understand. Or it just happens. It’s a dangerous sport and we must respect it with caution or suffer the consequences.

4. Playing upside down guards and hunching over during guard passing. When we get stacked or invert we are often susceptible to back pain. It’s not that you can’t do either it’s just proceed with caution and stretch wisely if this is your style of play. I cannot count the number of times I have asked a person to come train and they say “My back is screwed up.” And while passing guard many people are in situations where they are hunched over for long periods of time. This can be harmful long-term. Keep good posture while passing. Your back doesn’t care if you got the pass or not.

5. Tap often and tap early for starters. There are people who are gunning for submissions in sparring. As there are people with great control of themselves there are other people who are dangerous with little understanding of their own bodies. One time I was finishing a takedown and the guy hit the mat and immediately swung his elbows and upper body to help prop his hips away. It was not the normal escape route and the result was my nose was fractured and blood all over the mat. He said he “didn’t mean it” but it was a huge surprise to me. It was like he was calm and then spazzed out. Another time it happened while I was on top side position. The person on bottom grabbed onto my foot and pulled my heel toward the inside tweaking my knee. It was completely out of nowhere and surprised me. It didn’t even really make sense as an escape or a submission. It was simply a person doing something out of the ordinary that I was not prepared for. I don’t blame these people. I have learned to even be more sensitive because of it. I would say the best advice is to expect the unexpected. If you can train with that mindset you should be able to train longer.

I hope you enjoyed this. If you have other tips please comment below.


Ken Primola
BJJ Black Belt and author of BJJ intelligence and creator of the Grapp App (on itunes and android)