Why I’m Glad I Started Training BJJ In My 40s

One year ago today I started training Brazilian jiu jitsu.

After training BJJ for a couple of months, I had a thought I’m sure many people who pick up the sport at this point in their lives have:

“Ugh…I wish I would have started this 15 years ago.”

Picking up BJJ at 43 presented (and still presents) some challenges that didn’t exist for me 15 years ago. At 28 I was a well-employed single guy living in a low cost part of the country. With no family obligations or kids’ books to read at bedtime, I had nothing but time on my hands for training. I could have easily trained 6 days a week and still had plenty of time to rest and recover between sessions. I even had time to augment my training with yoga and lifting. There wouldn’t have been many financial restrictions either. Want some new gear? Done. Want to travel to the Caribbean for a week long camp? Done.

Ok, being honest, I do wish I could go to those camps.

Then there are the physiological realities of participating in a combat sport that I have to overcome at this age . Speed (ok, I was never fast, but I was faster than I am now), ability to physically recover, better coordination and agility, and the sheer amount of testosterone coursing through my body would have made jiu jitsu a blast at that age. And it’s a little frustrating to think about where I could be in my progression if I already had 15 years under my (blue/purple/brown/black) belts.

I’ve also reflected back on the number of nights I spent at Duff Field with 5 or 6 other guys wishing we had enough warm bodies for a real rugby practice. If I’d been training BJJ back then, all I’d really need for a productive training session is one other willing person.

All of these thoughts haunted me for a while.

“What if?”

Then I realized that BJJ came into my life at the perfect time and place.

It’s crazy to think about the things I wouldn’t have done if I’d started training BJJ in 2001. I would have missed out on a few really good years of rugby. Peak years. And if I’m being honest with myself, I’d probably be skipping BJJ and playing rugby today if my body was physically able to handle that sport 3 days a week. But it’s not just the matches I’d have missed out on–some of the most fun times I’ve had in my life were during those few years riding up and down the roads to matches with my friends and enjoying the “social” aspects of the sport as well.

Those rugby years weren’t really conducive to living with and supporting a family, but jiu jitsu life fits our family just fine. Everyone can train. Everyone loves it. Competitions are something we can all participate in on the same days.

Then there’s that post-rugby/pre-BJJ cardio base I got to build.

The eventual “backy-no-likey” resulting from rugby led me to years of training for endurance sports. Of course, some people train a lot more than me, but I did more than my share of time and miles swimming, cycling, and running. All the time I invested there served me well for building a good cardio base I don’t think I’ll ever lose.

Maybe the biggest thing I got out of all those years of running and triathlon is a big time ego check. I realized a long time ago that I was never going to win a race. Ever. Winning my age group? Maybe one day after everyone else that age is dead. Guess what else–I’m going to get slower as I get older. It’s already happening. I’ve come to terms with it. I’m good with it.

The biggest realization I had during my endurance sports years is that I just like to train.

When I was 28, I loved to train too. I always loved going to rugby practice and lifting. But I liked to train to compete. I was training for the pissing contest. There was a fire in the belly and desire to beat someone else that I just don’t care that much about these days. I’m a lot more motivated now by learning something new and improving.

This was made even more evident after competing in BJJ recently. I did well at the competition, but came away from it sort of wishing I’d spent the time training (and getting beat/schooled) instead.

Daily Reading List — May 3rd

Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts? – It’s actually just poor planning coupled with laziness. Don’t give me this “kid in the car” excuse either. Lazy people and poor planners circle the parking lot looking for the spot closest to the door.

Smart people (me) try to get a spot right next to a cart return. That way, even if you have to deal with kids, you can return your cart easily. You also don’t have to deal with stray carts in the parking lot around these areas ramming into your high dollar minivan.

Think people!!!

An Accidental Discovery Could Solve Earth’s Plastic Waste Problem – Next we will have to find something that can break down all those annoying re-usable bags people have been toting to the store with them for the past few years. ‘Cause those are all going to get trashed.

The Worst Places To Get Stung By A Bee: Nostril, Lip, Penis – If you happen to only have 2 of the 3 you are living a charmed life. Where’s the social justice?

How Running a Marathon Puts Your Body Through Hell – Word.

The Baby Boom Tsunami That May Drown The Economy – I’ve wondered for a while how these folks are going to pull money out of the markets while we’re all building them up. Sounds like another social security type thingy, huh?

Would America be better off if we became Norway? – We’d be happier if we were Vikings, but with central heating systems and North Face clothing.

The Origins of Overprotective Parenting – We make an effort (sometimes at the horror of The Mrs.) to keep our kids as free range as possible. And we still probably don’t do enough.

Here’s How This Shoe Will Decompose Like Food In Your Trash – I’m not sure if they were biodegradable or not, but I’ve had a few pairs of Adidas decompose on me.

Your Gateway To The Pocket Chainsaw and More

Pocket Chainsaw – Genius! Please develop a pocket band saw and forklift as well please.

A Marathon of Measurements – I’m glad someone wants to do this. Wish there were more of these guys.

2:16 Marathoner Says He Can Break 2:00 – If he didn’t have to work. I could do it too…if I didn’t weight 200 lbs, had a coach and dietitian, and more flexibility in my hips. Oh yeah, I’d like a shoe sponsor as well. Geesh.

Custom themes in Gmail – Add photos to your gmail theme…cool!

The Libraries, Studies, and Writing Rooms of 15 Famous Men – Counting down the days to the time when I will take the room I want for my office!

Choose, Lace, and Replace Your Running Shoes Based on How You Run – Hopefully this will make a bigger difference than the podiatrist did.

Twitter moves toward the news system of the future – Or, as it is known in many circles, Google+

Better With Age – This is comforting

Thinking of going this route – FIRST marathon training plan

Never-before-seen photos from 100 years ago tell vivid story of gritty New York City – Awsum.

A Simple, Responsive, Mobile First Navigation

Google Semantic Search: Bad for SEO, Good for You – Make your SEO money now!

Abercrombie Will Pay The Situation To NOT Wear Their Clothes

This is so unfair to the rest of us.

“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image.”

This almost encourages these ignoranuses and the wannabes waiting in the wings to amp up their behavior even higher. Why not take the money from AF and invest in some higher end clothing, hoping those guys will pay you even more to not wear their clothes? Sounds both reasonable and logical to me.

Now, I hope I’ve never taken my obnoxiousness to The Situation’s level, but I think I could have given him a run for his money on the occasional Saturday night at the turn of the century.

I’m old and have gray hair…not at all the image they want to portray for their brand. If I had any kind of platform at all, I’d go out and dress from head to toe in AF stuff. I’d make sure I was mic’d every time I grunted when transitioning from standing to sitting, and I’d make sure their logo was prominently displayed every time I bent over to pick something up and grab my lower back to aid me in standing upright again.

Cha-ching!

I’m not sure what AF expected when they targeted this market.

Stuff You Should See– February 11th through February 22nd

NASA Releases First-Ever iPhone Game, Complete With Wiseass Remarks – And to think, it was just the other day I was telling a NASA employee that the private market could do a lot of the same stuff they do and it would be more cost efficient. She threw “we invented velcro” at me. If only she’d known they were releasing this iPhone app, she could have shut my point down completely. At least they are giving it away, so your tax dollars are being returned to you…if you happen to have an iPhone.

Marijuana use by seniors goes up as boomers age – Disclaimer: I don’t set things in fire and put them in my mouth. Period. But there are a lot of “get-off-my-lawn” type older people who really do need to chill out a little. And that wasn’t even brought up in this article. So how, exactly, would it hurt me if they got a little help with achieving that?

CPAC Exhaustion – Oops! So what if she said she met him but was mistaken. It’s not that big a deal. I’ll give some linkages just to say that. 🙂

10 fake Simpsons words that belong in the dictionary – Doh!

George Washington: Simplicity seeker – The Father of our desire for simplicity.

The finest Facebook groups ever conceived by man – Heh…Facebook may be good for something after all.

Amazon Wants To Give A Free Kindle To All Amazon Prime Subscribers – Please be true. Thank you.

9 Studies That the Anti-Vaccination Movement Says Show Links or Bury the Truth – And a few notes on them. I don’t understand the Latin parts, but I think the idea here is that these things keep a lot of people from getting really bad diseases, err, alive.