What Age Is Too Old To Start Jiu Jitsu?

Do you have dreams of turning yourself into an effective submission master but concerned you may be a little too old to start learning Jiu Jitsu? Don’t worry if you are still breathing you are still in the game and are able to excel at Jiu Jitsu.

What Age Is Too Old To Start Jiu Jitsu?

There is no age that is too old to start Jiu Jitsu. BJJ athletes have started in their 50s and 60s and gone on to earn their black belts after training for 10 + years. As long as you have basic mobility you can learn and master BJJ.

When people are thinking of trying a new hobby, especially a full contact martial art such as BJJ it can be uncomfortable. People like to psych themselves out about why they shouldn’t take that difficult first step and go to their first class.

Age is a big barrier that people place in front of their potential BJJ journey. You hear it all the time “oh I would love to try BJJ but I’m too old”, or “if I was only 15 years younger I would train Jiu Jitsu”. These are not valid excuses. Your age should never stop you from learning BJJ.

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.

To prove that you are never too old to start Jiu Jitsu you just need to read about 78 year old Gracie Barra black belt Gene Pace.

Gene Pace was your average grandfather who started training at Gracie Barra Costa Mesa at the age of 63 after his grandkids took up the sport.

Pace has consistently trained for 15 years and always turns up to training 2 times a week. He regularly spars with men 50 to 60 years younger than him and is more than capable of holding his own on the BJJ mats.

Pace’s black belt coach Mike Buckels said, “He’s Mr Consistency. He never misses a class, ever. He does exactly what he’s taught. If you show him a position, he’ll perform the movement perfectly”.

So there you have it, an everyday 63 year old training Jiu Jitsu in a standard BJJ gym, attending general classes twice a week for 15 years and becoming a master. If you are reading this you are almost certainly younger than 78 and most likely younger than 63, now you have no excuse to start training Jiu Jitsu because if Gene Pace can do it, then so can you.

What Age Is Too Old To Become A BJJ World Champion?

Early 20s is the latest you can start training BJJ and become an adult black belt world champion unless you come from a high level wrestling, Judo or SAMBO background. If you are a heavyweight you have a greater chance of starting late and succeeding, eg. Orlando Sanchez who won ADCC and started at 26.

While people of any age can start training BJJ and learn the sport, becoming a world champion is a different story. The vast majority of BJJ world champions started training in their young teens or even earlier.

This is because it takes years and years of dedicated training to reach black level skill in BJJ. If you start training too late by the time you get close to this skill level you will be outside your athletic peak.

For example if you start training at BJJ at 35 even if you train everyday for hours it will still take you around 5 years to earn your black belt. By then you will be 40 and competing against 25 years olds who have been training since they were 10 and likely have twice the amount of mat time you have combined with superior athleticism, winning will be close to impossible.

After the age of 14 every year you don’t start BJJ makes it increasingly difficult to become a Jiu Jitsu world champion. Once you get into your 20s your chance of winning major titles starts shrinking dramatically and after 25 it is practically unheard of.

However, if you are in your 20s don’t give up on your dream of becoming a high level BJJ competitor just yet. There is a famous example of a BJJ world champion who started BJJ late and won the most prestigious Jiu Jitsu competition in the world, ADCC. 

Orlando Sanchez started BJJ at the age of 26 and then 7 years later at the age of 33 he won the +99kg ADCC division. So if you are in your mid 20s, Sanchez should be your patron saint and inspiration because he has shown the world that you can reach the pinnacle of BJJ while starting the sport late.

Eddie Cummings is another high level BJJ competitor who didn’t start training BJJ until the age of 26. While Cummings didn’t become a world champion he did win high level competitions including EBI and ADCC trials. Cummings was also known for having the best leglocks in the sport and innovating many of their leg lock techniques you see used today by the Danaher Death Squad.


You can start Jiu Jitsu at any age and become a master at the sport and earn your black belt. You only need to look at Gene Pace who started training at 63 and 15 years later earned his black belt. Pace despite his age was able to consistently train twice a week and give people half his age fits on the BJJ mats. 

If you want to become a BJJ world champion the later you start the more difficult it is to succeed. Ideally you should start training between the ages of 10 to 14 to maximise your success. Once you start getting into your 20s your chances become very low. However, Orlando Sanchez managed to beat the odds and become an ADCC world champion despite starting Jiu Jitsu at 26.

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