Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Prepare for Your Forties

Make sure you spend some time thinking about your forties, fifties, and beyond. Is the way you’re training now sustainable for your later years?

In my twenties, when I spent nearly every day at the gym doing bodybuilding workouts, I would say things like, “I’m never going to stop working out.” And I remember meeting an older man, another regular, at the gym, and we got to talking. He told me, “You can’t work out like that forever. You might want to think about why there aren’t people my age doing your kind of workout.” Being young and stupid, I never did think about it.

Life happens, and after spending a year in the Czech Republic, I got used to a different kind of lifestyle. I found a gym, but no longer had the motivation (discipline?) to work out the same way. It wasn’t fun anymore and it wasn’t so important to me to train for aesthetics.

When I returned to America, I reactivated my gym membership and tried to get back to the routine. And I hurt myself. I couldn’t do what I used to do, and I realized I no longer cared to.

By the time I started jiu-jitsu, I’d become somewhat deconditioned but was still in decent shape. I could use athleticism to get out of bad spots, but I quickly ran into partners more athletic. They were younger, stronger, faster. I learned I had to rely on technique and timing.

And it didn’t work at first. Because I was a white belt. It’s true that technique can overcome size and strength, but they never tell you that it takes good technique, and that takes a long time to develop.

If you’re in your twenties or thirties now, think a little about how your training will change when you’re in your forties and fifties.

Can you still do rubber guard? How about inverted guard?

If you rely on speed, what will happen when you run into someone faster? Or when your speed declines?

If you rely on strength, what will happen when you run into someone stronger? Or your strength declines?

Remember that the goal is to train forever.

Size, strength, speed will decrease as you age, no matter how much you train. Plus, life happens. Work on technique, timing, and mindset. Invest some time on those aspects, and you’ll see it pay off later.

Lastly, when it comes to mindset, if all you care about is submitting your partners because you are submitting them all the time, understand that that’s going to change too.

Subscribe to the newsletter to get updates in your inbox.