Anyone over the ripe ole’ age of thirty is considered an “old head” at the gym and either a master or senior in BJJ competition. It is important for these well aged grapplers to understand the special rules that apply to them in order to make it not only through the daily rigors of training but to their black belt and beyond.
Roll Smarter Not Harder
Even on those days that you feel like it don’t take the young bull by the horns and get tossed around! Always provide the young spaz with enough space to protect yourself even if it means giving up position. (Gasp! Imagine the horror of giving up a position during a practice!) Remember the clock that is running in the background is only for convienence of keeping the practice moving – don’t feel like you must beat the clock! Take your time and stay on the top position for a while working with pressure or keep your younger partner in your guard with his posture broken for a while to tire them out to equalize the playing field a bit.
Above all avoid unusual positions unless you are positive that you can trust your training partner to look out for your safety. Injuries often occur when senior practitioners get into unfamiliar position and they or their partner make a wrong move in the press of war!
Protect Yourself At All Times
Often you will witness teens and kids bending their joints at angles that make Stretch Armstrong shiver! Remember their tendons, ligaments, and muscles are supple and flexible – the well aged grappler looses this luxury the older they get. The problem is that this loss occurs slowly over time and often goes unnoticed until it is too late and an injury has occured! Since our recovery time is a lot longer the older we get follow this simple rule: “tap today, train tomorrow”.
Rest, Recover, Recycle
Teens can get away with four hours of sleep, inhaling fried foods meal after meal, and gulping down Red Bull by the gallon – the “old head” can not! These sins will destroy you with age so change these habits immediately if you still live this way. As a senior jiu-jitsu fighter you should get lots of sleep, water, protein, fruits, veggies (consider the Gracie Diet). These healthy choices will help you stay in the game and avoid injury (or get back into it if you get injured).
Be smart and respect your injuries: take the week off rather than have a simple injury turn to chronic problem. Stretch every day to maintain your body’s flexibility. Flexibility will protect you while you train and helps you to recover from injury much faster. Once you return to the mats roll only with trusted and experienced practitioners and don’t hesitate to point out your injury. An ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention! Remember, there is one good thing about not being a teenager anymore: You are a lot wiser!