Full contact combat sports are no joke! And for me, as someone in their mid-50’s, live grappling in BJJ is simultaneously the best the and worst part of the sport. Why?
Well, the thrill full-on “Fight Club” like contact is the adrenaline thrill that can’t be matched in the humdrum computer buzz of everyday life. On the other hand this ‘best part’ is also where the danger most danger lies for me (and anyone over 40 year old) with this one watch-word: injury.
Going head to head with a twenty something newbie that out-weights me by nearly 100lbs is a real danger. And the danger it represents is real: an injury that puts me out-of-the-game for days, months - or possibly on a near permanent basis. So what can one of us so-called ‘old-dudes’ do? Here are a few suggestions I have learned from experience.
WARM-UP: Yes, everyone ought to warm-up. But for the older 40 set we need longer periods of stretching and warm-up. Just do it!
START SLOW: Ask your partner for your first roll to start out at 50% speed. If they don’t want to comply, find another partner. Starting off slow is a continuation of warm-up and can be quite helpful in preventing injury. For me, it's a must do.
KNOW YOUR PARTER: The worst thing is some jacked-up 20 y/o newbie with no real BJJ skills, a huge ego, and something to prove. It’s a recipe for injury. Tell your partner you want to take an easy roll. Model “no-ego” and ask your partner to follow. And don't roll with someone you don't trust.
TAP QUICKLY AND OFTEN: I’ll start with an embracing confession. I was ‘rolling’ with a smaller woman at our dojo. I didn’t take her very seriously, and when she got me in a serious choke I couldn’t easily get out of, I was too proud to tap - or at least tap quickly. I eventually tapped, but not after my ego cost me some damage to my neck that caused me to sit-out for more than 6 months! Seriously. Don’t be an idiot like me. Don't be too proud to tap!
DON”T COMPETE WITH OTHERS: At this point the only competition you have is with the yourself - and perhaps the grim-reaper. And you’ll only delay the latter, with the ability to regularly exercise your BJJ game, by staying IN the game.
So to all the silver club members I say: stay safe . . . and keep rolling!