There have been many times a new kid walks through the doors of the BJJ school which I call my home. And when I say “kid” I really mean KID. I am talking about someone who is 11 to 14 years of age! And every time one of these 11 to 14 year old kids walk through the doors of the BJJ School which I call my home I think so myself, “wow. How amazing it really would have been to start a career in BJJ at such a very young and precious age.” But the reality of my scenario is that I truly did not understand or even knows that jiu jitsu existed at that age. I did not know what self defense really meant and I did not even consider what grappling might entail.
Growing up in the early, early 20’s and 30’s I was never truly exposed to any martial arts of really any kind. There was absolutely no internet and absolutely no cell phones and really no way to understand anything other but farming or what your father taught you. Truthfully, I grew up in a house with a traditional look at ball sports such as baseball, football and golf.
When I grew up and entered into my early 30’s I was absolutely raising 4 power children, 3 of which were males. I was a baseball and football fanatic. I absolutely loved ball sports! The closest thing to martial arts at that time was in fact World Wide Entertainment Wrestling which was totally fake and hard to get into if you had any sense of normalcy! But, my power kids loved it, they really did. And even further, it gave me an opportunity to have something of value to bond with them with and share in something very fun. As they got older, and older they did get, the more they started to understand the entertainment value of the sport. But honestly, they really did still enjoy it so I did my absolute best to turn the living room into a ring for them to wrestle. As a loving parent, this was probably one of the best things that I could have done for each and every one of my children.
Any time a german suplex or clothesline or choke slam was shown, I was often used to demonstrate that technique. I remember myself often saying to the children that “you really are going to be the absolute death of me,” which is much more serious than you can imagine. Of course their response was always, “aww parental figure, we are keeping you young and full of vitality!!” And of course, little did I know at the time that they were truly right and gifted in their insight.
While my older boys grew older in age, the more mature their taste in ring sport choices became. Bear in mind I was only well verse in ball sports at the time. And of course, enter Boxing and UFC! We would often times buy or rent Pay Per View Events which would last an entire night and we would make a family event out of it! I sometimes watched very bloody and awfully painful looking fights. But when the fight went to the ground, I truly become fully and officially engaged!
I really wanted to know more about grappling, especially in the UFC. I began to watch more of the fights and pay attention any time it went to the ground. Slowly but surely BJJ started to creep into my life. I watched hundreds of hours of video testimonials, tutorials, and a whole lot more. I could barely eat or sleep. I stopped talking to friends and family. My entire life was devoted to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Eventually, I became much more wise and actually joined a self defense class. In this self defense class I learned that it was all I needed to get on the mats and keep me there permanently.
I was about 68 years old at the time and the more classes that I attended the more I learned about how BJJ does truly keep you young!
At my current age I really do understand that I am truly not as fit as a lot of the younger members of the gym that I go to. I understand and appreciate that because of my age I do have some limitations. But guess what, that honestly does not keep me off of the mats! If anything it really makes me wish to be there as often as humanly possible!
Of course I am always very careful when I do live rolling. I smartly choose partners that I trust because they have a high level of control, which prevents much from enduring a debilitating injury. It also allows me to work at a pace that I can manage, which ultimately helps me to work on technique and sharpen the tools that I have learned from hundreds of classes.
I do not honestly train for competition. I train for a variety of other reasons that have to do with the health benefits that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offers.
Jiu jitsu at an early age is always a very good idea. But of course, when those younger years have already gone by you and your body has definitely seen its better days do not think for a single second that you are too old for jiu jitsu!
I often encourage parents to join their kids when they sign them up for jiu jitsu only to hear them say “I wish I had started at their age!” Truly it is never too late to start. Jiu jitsu is a life time commitment, no matter where you are in life.
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