As you may have gathered due to the name of my blog, I am an Old Munki and I have come to jiu jitsu late in life. I have found that one of the main reasons I have started training “seriously” is I wanted something that was both mentally and physically stimulating and that I could potentially carry on doing till I drop. BJJ hit the mark on all counts.
However whilst training it has made me take a long hard look at reality, which I feel has been a positive action for me. I was wondering if this same sort of situation applies to other older participants that come to BJJ later in life? So I thought I would go through a few of things that have arisen for me to see if any other older Munki’s can relate.
I have realised that despite me thinking I’m still in my early 20’s, my body is very aware I’m over 40. This means recovery and physical maintenance have to be a serious consideration. This is not too much of a problem, as the majority of this makes me feel better anyway. It is just the balancing issue of remembering the additional stuff is to support my BJJ. So hauling back in on the weights or other stuff, so I don’t get worn out and miss out on a BJJ class.
I also need to get to know my body again. (No rude comments here!!) I have changed a lot over the years. Physical damage, muscle and joint issues are something that I am working on to improve and repair. Having adapted to these physical limitations over the years, I now have to make as much of an improvement that I can. Otherwise I could potentially risk further injury. I have come to understand this will take time. Have had these issues for many years and I can’t rush the physical changes. Pushing it will just cause me more damage. My body doesn’t bounce back like when I was a youngster when I could do the splits and train 7 days a week. I have learnt to take my time and appreciate each little change and improvement that happens as a little win.
I have also realised that if I have a hard/long day at work not to beat myself up for not making class that night. Sometimes the negative self talk I give myself is really bad. I understand now that I may need the rest so I can make class the next day. This is far better than wearing myself out, beating myself down and then missing a few days on the mats. I know I’m never going to be as good as the Mendes brothers or Andre Galvao, but I will be as good as I can be and there is no immediate rush to get there.
I also have to really check my ego. This is for both getting tapped and comparing myself to others in the class. I always have to remind myself, that when I get tapped by a younger or stronger opponent, it’s because my technique isn’t good enough. It’s not his fault that I gave him the space to tap me. I have to stay focussed, figure out what I did wrong and seal up that gap. I won’t die or lose my house because I got tapped, but what I need to do is learn from it. For me at the moment it’s all about acquiring knowledge and figuring out how I can apply it.
Then I have to stop comparing myself progress to others, especially the younger guys! When I look at some people and they are the same grade as me and pulling off some amazing stuff, I have to remind myself they are not me. They may be shorter, lighter as well as younger but we are all different. I am working on my potential and improving myself. Not seeing if I am better than someone else at a technique. Doing this take my focus away from my improvement and creates a potentially negative mindset.
When I spoke to Chris Hauter at his recent seminar, I asked him about getting into Jiu Jitsu as an older person and what he thought. He felt it was a great thing to start doing as an activity and I do agree with him on this. All the things I have mentioned have given me a positive direction to go in, physically and mentally, so that is definitely a good thing.
If anyone else wants to add to this feel free to leave me a comment.