Am I too old for Jiu Jitsu?

Bryan (aka “Gaga”)                                      August, 2023

As likely the oldest student at our gym, let me say at the outset that from my perspective, the answer is “No.” (Your chance to stop reading here.)

But for anyone who might be concerned that their age might be a reason not to try Jiu Jitsu, allow me to elaborate.

I was never really an athlete or joined competitive teams of any sport. Not sure why, and frankly it’s something I’ve never thought much about. But I do enjoy solo activities and physical activity when I’m competing against myself, and in this case I can tell you that I’m my most frustrating opponent!

A couple years ago I thanked an instructor with an unusual compliment. I said, “Thank you twenty years from now.” It didn’t much make sense to him at first, of course, but then I explained how exercise is widely regarded as a key step to help prevent dementia.

Even at my fundamental level in Jiu Jitsu, over the past four years my brain has changed, for the better. For example, if I hold something in my hand and it falls, nine times out of ten I catch it before it hits the floor. That rarely happened before. During meetings and conversations at work, I’ll often come up with ideas or questions that honestly never came to my mind until that very moment. In the friendly yet competitive workplace where I currently work, this has turned into a real “super power,” and given how I’m the least technically trained individual on my team, I need all the help I can get!

Of course my physical stamina isn’t as good as my younger teammates. So what? What’s the alternative?

I’m sure I could quickly “over take” them in sitting on the couch, eating pizza and drinking beer. But that’s fun only for so long. I clearly remember a chief engineer who would always ask us at work, “Are you being challenged? Are you having fun?” Talk about a great decision filter when deciding what to do with your time. I’m happy to say that at our gym the answer to both questions is a strong “yes!”

Am I too old for Jiu Jitsu? Let me ask this: Am I too old to get mugged?

Or to get sick early from inactivity? Or potentially have to deal with an intoxicated individual at a dinner party such as one that I attended recently? As you can probably guess, questions are sometimes more helpful than answers.

Yes, I’m older. I’m also not very strong, and certainly not very competitive. But the other day in a fundamental class, I was paired with a brand new student. Friendly, for sure, but also quite muscular and stocky. With all his strength, he tried to pin me to the floor in two separate positions, but then he looked up in surprise when I easily escaped both times. We both smiled and got a good laugh at that.

Am I too old for Jiu Jitsu?

There’s an easily found video on YouTube that features a gentleman who earned his black belt at age 74. Watching him in action serves as a real inspiration to me and reminds me that I’m too old for Jiu Jitsu only if I tell myself so.