Think It’s Too Late to Start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

3 Studies That Prove BJJ is Suitable For All Ages

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art created by the Gracie family of Brazil. It is rooted in Judo, a discipline that hails from Japan, but was adapted by Carlos Gracie and his brothers beginning in 1917. Differing from Judo, most of the techniques happen on the ground; it is considered a grappling combat sport and a martial art.

The sport boasts a host of positive health benefits from increased cardiovascular strength to improved mental wellbeing. Students also claim better self-control, concentration and discipline. It’s clear to see how effective and suitable BJJ is for kids and young adults, but what about older generations? Is it ever too late to start martial arts?

Due to the rigorous nature of BJJ, it is easy to assume that there is an age limit on when to start or feel like after a certain age, it is too late. This is not the truth. BJJ is accessible for anyone willing to learn and can be suitably adapted to all age groups. In fact, the older you get, the more critical it is to engage in regular physical activity to combat the effects of aging, such as decreased bone and muscle density. Exercise slows these processes down so it is an essential component in maintaining quality of life and physical abilities.

Martial arts have exploded in popularity recently, in part thanks to major fight promotions, such as the UFC. Now in the mainstream, combat sports are more accessible than ever. However not all of us grew up with the options available today. It is understandable that you may think the time has passed to get involved, but as these studies prove, the benefits extend not just to the young, but also the young at heart.

A 12-week intervention study, published in Sports Sciences for Health, found that just two sessions a week (90 mins each) showed an overall increase in physical and functional fitness. Participants also experienced increases in strength, flexibility, and motor skills (balance and agility). Just three months of training showed moderate and significant effects for those over sixty.

More than half of those over sixty are physically inactive which poses a major health risk. This study clearly indicates that BJJ is not only suitable, but also beneficial for older students. Imagine what is possible if you are only forty, or trained three times a week, or trained consistently for a year? People in their forties and fifties are still actively competing, even if this is not your end goal, it is worth noting that the human body is capable of incredible things and yours is no different.

Another study, published in Sports Medicine, investigated BJJ students’ physiological compositions, from beginner to elite competitive levels. Participants were generally found to have low body fat percentages, significant aerobic and anaerobic fitness, and muscle power and strength. What's important to note here is that aerobic fitness did not discriminate across experience levels. Even beginners can reap these benefits.

Looking at this data, it’s clear that the physical benefits of martial arts extend to any level of participant and that BJJ offers a constructive and fun way to improve overall fitness. It may seem daunting to start a new physical hobby later in life, but there is never a perfect time to start, the only thing that’s important is to show up, do your best, and keep going one class at a time. Soon you will see the same results for yourself!

Published in Military Medicine, a study researching the effect of BJJ on PTSD sufferers concluded that the martial art decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety and improved PTSD symptoms. Although more research needs to occur regarding the issue, this study shows that BJJ is a potential complementary therapy for those suffering with mental health issues.

The CDC estimates that 20% of those aged fifty five and over will experience some type of mental health concern. It is becoming increasingly known that exercise is as effective as antidepressants at alleviating the symptoms of depression and taken in conjunction have a significant impact on the user’s health. Symptoms of anxiety are also reduced through physical activities.

BJJ offers positive mental benefits in addition to the physical ones and it is equally important to regard our mental health with the same care, especially as we age.

The best form of exercise is the one you can stick to. If you are interested in trying a martial art, or joining a class, then go for it. The benefits are endless and most of all, it’s a fun way to learn a new skill.

Instructors are always available to discuss any concerns or personal needs you may have. Don’t let age get in the way of trying the noble art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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