Getting back into sport: Brazilian Ju-Jitsu at 50plus?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

So you’re 50 plus, you've had your vaccinations, the lockdown is ending and you're thinking about getting off your sofa and back into the gym. You've beginning to watch what you eat and you're starting to see the results. Now what? I know from personal experience that all this newfound discipline and focus can be hard to maintain if there is no reason beyond simply looking good.

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I don't train for fun. I train hard it, hurts. I'm 54 years old, and I don't care who you are, whether you have trained all your life or you've just got back into the gym, aches and pains whether injury-related or not are something you have to learn to live with. Something you have to learn to train around. It can be difficult to keep motivated. So what do you do? For some, the answer to this question is to start a new sport.

A new sport at 50 plus? Yes! Aren't we too old to get into the sport now! At, we don't believe you're ever too old to try something new. So what kind of sports am I talking about? Bowls. No, that's not the kind of thing I'm suggesting. Don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with bowls and if that what you want to do, then I say do it. I'm thinking of something just a little bit more challenging. What I'm talking about today is Brazilian Jui-Jitsu.

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Brazilian Jui-Jitsu? The grappling sport that forms the basis of MMA (mixed martial arts) that I see on TV?


The sport where the guys throw each other around, whilst trying to pin or submit each other?


Are you crazy?

I know it sounds extreme. And before we go any further nobody here at is suggesting that you just take yourself off the sofa grab someone and start wrestling. We have all reached the point where if we fall over now, we don't bounce we just break. So before you start any kind of new exercise or sport go to your doctor, get yourself checked out and make sure that the people training you know what they're doing.

With Ju-Jitsu a good place to start might be the United Kingdom Brazilian Ju-Jitsu association. You can find them at

Still sounds crazy right, well let me introduce you to a man I know named Gary. Gary is 51 years old. He started Brazilian Ju-Jitsu at 47. OK I know he wasn't 50plus when he started, but he was pretty close and he's certainly 50plus now.

So here's Gary's story in his own words

You’re mad! Seriously you will get injured! Don’t do it, Dad.

These are just some of the comments I got when at the age of 47 I decided to take up Brazilian Ju-Jitsu (BJJ). Now for the uninitiated BJJ is a grappling martial art and it is tough! A fact that I was totally unaware of when I decided to give it a go. My name is Garry and by my own admission, I’ve always been a bit of a gym rat with a borderline obsession with getting better.

So why BJJ? Well, I suppose you have to go back to when I was a kid. I imagine like most kids born in the late 60’s I was a big fan of Bruce Lee. I always wanted to be able to say I was a martial artist, but somehow I never got round to it. I did a little bit of boxing, at one point I even tried my hand at Thai boxing, but the male ego soaked atmosphere of the gyms and the ring were not for me. I went through my 30’s and 40’s working out and staying fit, but always at the back of my mind was that childhood itch. An inch that as I approached 50 I decided I had to scratch.

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I did a bit of research, which basically meant I Googled BJJ in Croydon, found a local class and went along. When I started it was a personal test. A challenge I set for myself. Could I still do it?

Even though I was closing in on 50 I was still pretty confident when I walked into my first session. I knew how to box and at the time I thought I was pretty fit. Oh, how wrong I was. I learned very quickly there's fit and then there's BJJ fit. Within a few minutes of starting, I was blowing hard and hurting in places I didn't know existed. By the end of that first class, I thought sod this for a game of soldiers, I'm too old and this hurts too much, I'm not coming back. But you know what? The strange was, despite all I said I did go back. The next week, the one after that and the one after that. I was hooked!

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I changed the whole way I trained. I trained smarter, harder just so I could just last 1hr 30mins as a novice roller ( that’s what they call a beginner in BJJ). I use the word novice as it's somewhat kinder than saying I totally out of my depth.

BJJ is many things but mainly it's tough both physically and defiantly mentally. During training, I can honestly say it's the only time in the week that I am totally focused on one thing, BJJ and nothing else.

I tapped out again and again and again. The mat is no place for any ego or manly inflated belief that you are tough. Even now I have bruises, mat burns and still ache after most sessions but it's the pleasure I get from the constant physical and mental battle that makes it worth it.

Fast forward 4 years and I'm still hooked. Can I call myself a martial artist? I'm not sure. What I can call myself is a 51-year-old man who is still on a journey to learn and enjoy himself on a path he has chosen.

My only regret is that I didn’t do this 25 years ago.

Train hard, train smart, but whatever just train….


Now I know BJJ is not going to be for everyone and I know it's not perhaps the first thing that comes to mind after we've has 18months when we've been told to stay at least 6ft away from anyone but this story is about showing what is possible. So if you're training and want to try something new, or even if you're not and want to get fit, or if there's something out there that you've always wanted to do and you're 50plus now is the time to do it.

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