How Old Is Too Old For BJJ?

Are you in your 40s, 50s or heck even your 60s and thinking about signing up to BJJ? I am sure you are having some doubts about whether training a full contact martial art at your age is wise. In this article we will show you why BJJ can be adapted to suit an athlete of any age!

How Old Is Too Old For BJJ?

No age is too old for BJJ. Helio Gracie was training in his 80s and 90s!. Many BJJ athletes first started the sport in their 40s and 50s and went on to earn their black belts 10 years later. BJJ can be modified to suit any age group as training intensity and volume can be decreased for older grapplers.

While BJJ is a full contact martial art can be very intense this should not put you off taking up the sport later in life.One of the great things about BJJ is that it can be adapted so everyone can practice the martial art. 

For example if you want to be a world champion and professional BJJ player you can train 6 hours a day, 2 hours each session, learn all the fancy techniques and go to war in tough sparring rounds with fellow BJJ addicts.

On the other hand if you are an older BJJ practitioner who is just looking for a new hobby and a way to stay fit you train 3 days a week, 1 to 1.5 hours each session, focus on learning the basic techniques and either not spar or spar lightly. Whatever your BJJ goals are, your training can be altered to ensure you meet them.

Whittier resident Gene Pace, 78, receives his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the Gracie Barra studio in Costa Mesa on Thursday night. He studied for 15 years before receiving the recognition.

BJJ continues to become more and more popular with older athletes. If you step into a large BJJ academy it is very common to see a number of students who are in their 40s, 50s and even 60s. 

You definitely don’t need to feel self conscious about your age when starting BJJ later in life. Everyone on the BJJ mats is treated equally no matter their age. In fact older grapplers who develop great skill are given even more respect but people recognise the extra challenge of progressing as a mature adult.

Is BJJ Good For Older Adults?

BJJ is good for older adults with many earning their black belts. It is a martial art that was designed for the weaker less athletic student to overcome the younger and more powerful attacker. BJJ focuses on technique and leverage so no matter your physical prowess you can be an effective BJJ practitioner.

If you are an older adult looking to learn an actually effective martial art that could be used in a self defence scenario then BJJ is your best choice.

Other effective martial arts such as wrestling, boxing and Muay Thai are a young man’s game. They rely on speed, explosiveness and strength. Unfortunately, these peak in your youth and only decline as you age.

BJJ on the other hand does not rely on athletic prowess. In fact Helio Gracie, being frail and weak himself designed BJJ to help him easily overcome much stronger and athletic attackers.

BJJ relies on using technique, leverage and ideal body mechanics to manipulate, control and dominate attackers. This makes it the perfect martial art for older adults who may be nursing injuries or may no longer be in their physical peak. 

If you step into a BJJ academy it is totally normal to see 16 year old, 100 pound girls or 55 year old 140 pound men submitting 200 pound, 25 year olds. This may be unbelievable to the general public but it won’t even cause a reaction in a BJJ gym.

BJJ is also great for older adults because it is a highly cerebral sport. BJJ commonly gets compared to chess, as athletes have to plot moves several steps in advance and build a decision tree in their mind.

Many older adults really appreciate the strategic element of BJJ and this can make them extremely tough to deal with on the mats. As younger students often fall for their traps or play right into their nicely designed strategies.

If you are an older adult who enjoys strategies and games like chess then BJJ is going to be a great fit for you and this knowledge could help turn you into a BJJ master in no time.

Is 35 Too Old To Start BJJ?

35 is too old to start BJJ if you want to become an adult world champion with most champions starting as children or in their teens. However, if your goal is to become an expert and earn your black belt it is a great age to start BJJ. You can also have great success competing at your belt and age level.

35 is too old if you want to compete with the best in the world and win high level adult black belt competitions. You just won’t have enough hours in the day to reach the level of skill you need to compete. The majority of world class black belt adult competitors starting training as children or in their teens.

Even if you train 3 hours a day everyday you are looking at being at least 40 by the time you receive your black belt. At 40 you will struggle to compete with athletes who are in their 20s and their athletic prime. 

Also there is a huge difference between a hobbyist black belt and a world class competitor. The difference can be described as the difference between a blue belt and a brown belt at your gym. 

There is just not enough time in your lifetime to go from a 35 year old beginner to a world class BJJ black belt. If you stayed in your athletic prime until the age of 55 then you may be able to but unfortunately the effects of aging will step in way before you reach the required skill level.

Of course most BJJ students who start training at the age of 35 realise that they aren’t going to be world champions and take up the sport for other reasons.

If you start training at the age of 35 you can become an expert in BJJ while still being fairly young and athletic on the mats. If you train hard you could achieve your black belt in your early 40s and still have enough firepower to submit much younger skilled BJJ athletes with ease.

Starting BJJ at 35 is totally normal, you will not feel out of place or the old guy. At most gyms you will be close to the average age of the guys in the adult class. You will fit right in!

Many BJJ athletes have started the sport at 35 and then gone on to successfully compete and win competitions in their belt level and age group. They then have earned their black belt and even opened successful BJJ academies where they have produced world champions. 35 is not too old to achieve so many of your BJJ goals.


There is no age that is too old for BJJ. Helio Gracie is the perfect example of this. The Gracie family patriarch was still rolling on the BJJ mats in his 80s and even 90s. Do not let your age sway you from following your BJJ dreams. Even though BJJ is a tough sport and is a full contact martial art its intensity can be adapted to allow athletes of any age to learn the art effectively.

If you are 35 or in your 40s and thinking you may be too old for BJJ…stop! While you may be a little over the hill to become a professional or adult black belt world champion you can still become an expert and earn your black belt.

Many BJJ students who started at 35 or later have had successful competitive careers, become black belts and even open their own high performing BJJ academies. It is never too late to chase your BJJ goals!

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