There used to be a Karate class at the dojo called “Executive Karate”, for students who were 35 and older. Even though I started training Karate when I was 35, I never attended that class, but now that I’m 43, I sometimes wish we had one like it for Jiu-Jitsu. The only problem is I think I would be the only student. It would just be me and Old Man Conan, and that doesn’t sound like very much fun!
To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey in his iconic role as Wooderson “I get older, the new students stay the same age.” He wasn’t complaining and neither am I, because Shihan says that one of the quickest ways to get old is to hang around old people, so I figure since I train Jiu-Jitsu with a bunch of young folk, that means I will never get old, right? However, I swear that the next twenty-something in class who says “I’m too old for this!” is going to get punched in the spleen.
I am glad that at least Conan’s older than I am, and he reminds me to try not to play a younger person’s game, but to develop one that will keep working for me as I continue to age. Sometimes I have a tendency to try to match the intensity level of my young partners, and I end up tiring myself out, so it’s important that I learn to grapple as efficiently as I can. No wasted energy, no unnecessary movements.
I usually end up competing against women who I could have given birth to, and age does make a difference, but if you learn how to play your own game, you can negate much of the advantage. At the last tournament I competed in someone yelled out to one of my competitors “Come on, you’re younger and stronger than she is, you can beat her!” It kind of annoyed me when they said that, but it didn’t stop me from winning. This old lady fights younger, stronger people almost all of the time.
You just gotta keep on livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.” -David Wooderson