"Pick who you roll with. Spar with the people who make you better, not the people who want to win. There is a difference."
To the Middle-aged jiu jitsuman:
If you're over forty and practice Brazilian Jiu jitsu, chances are your social media feed is flooded with advice on what to do if you're over forty and practice Brazilian Jiu jitsu. The crux of the matter is the balance between life on the mat and life off of it. The middle-aged roller has big issues to grapple with: responsibilities to family and career, and the ever-ominous and always approaching expiration date that everyone finally taps to.
While non-Jiu jitsu middle-aged men may suffer midlife crises, I personally never have. I've never woken up and in fearful realization of my own mortality, gone out and bought a fast car or had an affair with an even faster woman. Instead, my crisis has been on figuring out how to train Jiu jitsu for as long as I can.
And so in the spirit of service to the over-forty Jiu jitsu mafia surfing the web for tips and inspiration on how to train and sustain, I offer these three hacks:
#1- Make yourself physically stronger. Exercise off the mat. Lift weights. Jump rope. Go jogging. Run stairs. Walk. Live in your body in other places than on the mat, and this will make you stronger when you are. Resilience and endurance come with strength.
#2- Pick who you roll with. Spar with the people who make you better, not the people who want to win. There is a difference. If you've been training for some time, perhaps longer than many of your training partners have been alive, you are eventually going to roll with some new guy who has less experience than you but is physically much stronger. This is not your fault. You're old. The fact is that although you might tap this young buck eight-out-of-ten times, he's still going to tap you twice. And because you're so fucking old, you'll be injured if you don't tap quick enough. And heads-up, you'll stay injured longer...because you're so fucking old. But it's not your fault that you're old. It is your fault if you don't tap. More experienced guys such as yourself may not always be available at your gym. But chances are you've cultivated at least a couple of training partners along the way who allow you to grow as you roll. Roll with these guys. Make it a game of chess instead of a Viking attack on an 8th Century monastery.
#3- Finally, make a good habit of training. This goes beyond being at the gym at the same time, on the same day of every week. That's not always possible as you take care of business and family off the mat. A good habit of training brings you back to the mat as much as possible, even occasionally on the days you don't normally train. A sustainable habit of training means that if work and family duties do increase, your training doesn't necessarily have to decrease.
Train and sustain.