When it comes to sports, people always doubt their age – what is the best age to start jiu-jitsu? Regardless, jiu-jitsu can be learned by people of all ages. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or an absolute beginner, as long as you are physically able. Maybe you aren’t sure whether your child is too young to learn jiu-jitsu, or you are too old?
What is a cutoff age to start jiu-jitsu?
The answer is: there is no cutoff age. There is no right age to start training. Although, we do understand why adults usually ask this question. At some point, they feel uncertain and a little nervous about starting something new and different. It’s out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, adults have the same question for their kids. Parents are sometimes afraid of introducing kids to new activities, especially martial arts. All people of all ages are welcome to train jiu-jitsu. As the matter of fact, it’s going to be the best decision of your life. In the last couple of years, jiu-jitsu has grown all over the world, more and more people are interested in starting to train. Stop thinking about yourself as being old. You are old when you stop moving, training, and playing.
Youth in Jiu-Jitsu
The sooner the better, is not always a good idea, when it comes to physical training. Children, unlike adults, need a different approach to physical engagement. Luckily, jiu-jitsu is the perfect martial art for your child to start training at a young age.
The basic recommendation for children to start is around four years old. At that age, their training is playful, with some additional special games.
At the age of five, some specific jiu-jitsu practice can be included thanks to their improvement in motor skills and coordination.
At the age of seven or eight, they can be introduced to competitions.
Take this with a grain of salt, every child is different.
When it comes to children’s classes, jiu-jitsu has a very efficient and precise system. It all comes down to these two things: the child’s ability to follow the instructions and the ability to listen. By the age of five and six, they have already developed some self-discipline, and know how to follow the instructions, and work with others.
If desired, competition should be introduced later, it depends on the child. Usually, that is from the age of eight to ten years old. A child of that age follows the instructions easily and deals with defeat much easier. It is important not to push your child to jiu-jitsu classes or competitions. In this case, a child might hesitate to return to the next class and even develop a disdain towards the sport. Competition is a wonderful learning tool if the child desires to compete. If they do take that challenge, there are a few criteria to consider:
If the child wants to compete, consistency in training is a must. Of course, it’s reasonable if they miss a class here and there because of their other activities and school. But to have good results, they will have to show up to class regularly. Good performance in competitions gives confidence and teaches responsibility.
Some children are completely devoted to training. They never give up when it’s hard and like the challenge. Maybe they don’t have the mental toughness yet, but they will learn. This is a sign your child is probably ready to compete. Devotion and passion for jiu-jitsu aren’t something that can be taught.
Children need to know some basic jiu-jitsu techniques, a couple of sweeps, a few submissions, and a couple of takedowns. It’s important not to throw them into competition before they learn some basic techniques.
Jiu-jitsu is a contact sport. Children need to be prepared to have physical contact and to wrestle with other children. Unfortunately, there isn’t the best way to know when your child is ready. The only way you can discover this is to give it a try and then go from there. The first class is all about having fun and getting comfortable in the new environment.
Here are a couple of things your child will learn in jiu-jitsu class::
Open communication with the instructor and other kids is important. Being nervous and shy at their first jiu-jitsu class is absolutely normal and even expected. In classes, they will learn strong language skills, eye contact, and how to communicate with their peers and adults.
Following the rules
Following the rules is necessary, so they can learn jiu-jitsu. Instructors are there to teach them new skills and help them overcome any barrier they might encounter. Children learn how to focus, how to ask questions without interruption, and how to listen and follow directions.
Prepare to lose
To learn jiu-jitsu techniques takes a long time, years. This means a beginner student will have to prepare to be regularly overmatched in order to master the technique properly. Sometimes, this can be difficult for a child. It is important to encourage the child to keep going and not to give up. Losing is the best part of how to improve and how to learn.
Jiu-jitsu gives your child a real method of self-defense, without hurting their opponent. Sadly bullying is on the rise and jiu-jitsu is a great skill to give your child confidence. Bullies want easy prey; a confident child is not their target. Besides, they will learn how to defend themselves and others physically without punching and kicking. Nothing to worry about, jiu-jitsu is a gentle art with no striking.
The best reasons to start jiu-jitsu at a young age
There are several benefits of training jiu-jitsu at a young age. Your child will face some hard physical and mental demands which will benefit the child in the long run.
The physical aspect is one of the best parts of training. The children’s motor coordination will improve immensely, they will gain energy, agility, and balance. And, it is fun.
Jiu-jitsu is like a chess game, it is a mental sport. The commitment to train, think, and strategize will set your child on the right path to deal with future troubles in real life responsibly. Also, learning how to fail and lose, and then how to get back up, is one of the most essential lessons a child can learn.
In the jiu-jitsu class, children aren’t alone, they are among friends and classmates. On the mat, they create bonds and make friends for life.
Am I too old to start jiu-jitsu?
With age, the ability to move fast goes away. Reaction time slows down, and recovery takes longer in between classes. With that being said, there isn’t such thing as being too old for jiu-jitsu!
Remember Anthony Bourdain? He started at the age of 58 and earned his blue belt! When it comes to technical skills, age doesn’t play a big factor. However, it will be a factor when it comes to the physical parts of training. The important thing is not to get discouraged or intimidated to start. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you don’t understand a specific technique.
Here are a couple of things you should focus on:
There is no denying that youth has its advantages. But an adult has years of experience, which helps with better decision making, patience, and strategy. Jiu-jitsu utilizes leverage and technique to get the best of your opponent. It doesn’t require ultimate athleticism and physicality. If someone is faster and stronger, it doesn’t mean they are better at jiu-jitsu. Sharpen your technical abilities, learn as many techniques as you can. The more you learn them, the more you will be open to applying them. Don’t focus on winning. Focus on breaking down the techniques and their values.
Take it easy
Jiu-jitsu is a personal adventure of discovering and improving yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others, focus on how to be the better version of yourself. When you start jiu-jitsu, everything will be new and uncomfortable. Even if your brain understands what to do, your body will rebel. It takes time to align your body with your mind. Go with the flow and don’t rush things. Give yourself the opportunity to learn, and to progress. You will be hooked after the first class!
Rest, recover, and stretch
Recovery time is the biggest difference between a young person and an adult in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible! If you want to start jiu-jitsu, you should have a good night’s rest, a good diet, and always stretch! A right stretching plan is a game-changer. Try to stretch every morning or at night before bed, ten minutes is enough. The myth is that people in their 40s or 50s are more fragile than they really are. The reality is if you take care of yourself with proper warm-ups and stretching techniques, your risk of injuries is lower.
Will my age affect my training?
If you are over 40, probably it will. Starting jiu-jitsu in your 50s and 60s is hard, let us be honest. But if you follow some basic principles, you will be fine! Jiu-jitsu is safer than many other martial arts because it is all about grappling, not striking. Everything depends on your level of physical fitness. You might lack some agility and power. The point is, you need to train smarter. As you get older, you’ll have to adopt a different mindset, especially when rolling. Don’t try to match the intensity of the young grappler, you will get hurt. Choose your training partner wisely, keep things playful; keep developing as a grappler instead of thinking about how to win. Getting 10 taps per roll is no longer a priority. Consider drills as an indispensable part of training. Find a partner who will simply go over the jiu-jitsu movement with you.
The truth about getting a late start in jiu-jitsu is you will certainly have challenges, but this isn’t a reason not to try. Technical skills are prioritized over speed and power, nevertheless, you will have to train properly to avoid unnecessary injuries. Depending on how old you are, some techniques you will have to skip or limit. With that being said, don’t worry there are plenty of other techniques and skills in jiu-jitsu to learn. Jiu-jitsu is a sport for EVERYONE but you have to have realistic expectations. Older adults will probably have different methods of training due to their fitness and other circumstances. As you get older, you won’t roll as well as before. Accept it, don’t fight it.
Older age is when you really start to enjoy jiu-jitsu as an art form. Jiu-jitsu is about constant evolution, physically and mentally. The more you train, the more stress your body can handle and absorb. Once you hit that certain age, you need to be aware that injuries and other factors will affect your jiu-jitsu practice.
Jiu-Jitsu For a Life
It is a cliché, but jiu-jitsu is all about the journey, not the destination. Nobody wants to face the reality that as we age, our bodies deteriorate. But just because we can’t handle the extreme training sessions, doesn’t mean we have to stop it completely. As you get older, you might notice that jiu-jitsu isn’t what it used to be. When we are young, we strain our bodies to the limits, this is not sustainable when you are in your 50s or 60s. You can adapt jiu-jitsu to your physical needs. The characteristics such as youth, power, speed, and agility will not always be with us.
We can’t stop getting older, and jiu-jitsu is a physically demanding sport. We can change our perspective so we can continue to do what we love.
Don’t forget, the most important thing is to enjoy your training. It is incredibly rewarding and profound. Jiu-jitsu teaches you life lessons regardless of your age.