Starting BJJ Over 40 (How To Remain Unscathed)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is often advertised as a martial art for everyone. This is a significant factor in its popularity because fighting is usually a young man’s business. Still, in BJJ, you can often see people of more advanced age from both genders. But how true is this, and can you start and regularly train BJJ if you are over 40?

The characteristics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the training methodology make it great for people of all ages to benefit from. Starting over 40 is completely normal. You may have to adjust your training, tactics, and expectations accordingly, but this is the beauty of BJJ—everyone can practice, get better, and reap the benefits. 

This generalized statement is not 100% true, and people with severe disabilities may be unable to train. Still, for most of the population, jiu-jitsu is a great hobby or even a professional route. Here is why.

Is 40 Too Old To Start BJJ

You probably knew the answer before reading this article, but here it is again: NO, it’s never too late to train or even start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu if you are over 40. Having a serious medical condition prevent you from training is something different, but this is valid at any age.

Jiu-Jitsu has this big statement that it’s suitable for everyone, and I can tell you it’s not a marketing trick. BJJ is suitable for everyone, and there are countless stories of people starting after 40, even after 50, not only enjoying and benefiting from the art but also reaching high levels like earning a black belt.

BJJ is a methodical and technical martial art using the principles of leverage and body mechanics to allow dominance on the ground.

It values technique over strength and speed, and especially in the gi, you can negate huge discrepancies in athleticism. This makes excuses like I am overweight, slow, not flexible, and such irrelevant. It just doesn’t matter; in BJJ, you can find a way to use your body type to your advantage.

Why You Should Train BJJ At 40

I know some are beasts in their 40s and 50s and compete at an elite level. The advice and this article, in general, are not for them. They aren’t asking if it is worth it to do BJJ over 40 in the first place. They just do it. But for everyone else, read on to learn why and how to benefit from BJJ the most once you are not a young stud.

I could fill two full articles with BJJ benefits, but this is beside the point. Instead, here are a few benefits specifically for those in a riper age wondering what BJJ has in store for them:

Social Environment

Martial arts is one of those things that brings people from different backgrounds together who would otherwise never even meet. Overcoming the same challenges and going through physical difficulties together create a unique bond. Just look at the military and professional athlete team’s bonds.

Being a part of such a community is ageless. Still, for older guys, it may be even more beneficial because you will be around younger, more energetic people who will look up to you with respect even if they are better than you skill-wise.

I firmly believe you grow old only when you let your spirit grow old, and I guarantee being in a BJJ academy will not let this happen anytime soon.

Stress Relief

Starting BJJ At 40

As adults, we have so much more on our plates. Family, including kids, professional careers, sick relatives, and many other things, destroy our nervous system.

Having something to do to vent stress is crucial for physical and mental health, and it becomes increasingly important as the years go by.

BJJ and martial arts, in general, are the best things I know of for stress relief. There isn’t a close second, at least not a legal one. I am a man who enjoys a lot of stuff and has too many hobbies, but being at the gym is the only thing that completely takes my mind off of all the real-life troubles I have. And I am certain the same can be true for you.

Staying Fit and Healthy

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a great way to stay in shape and delay or entirely fend off modern-day plagues like obesity and cardiovascular failure. In addition, the training structure will include mobility, stretching, and strength exercises, which are also crucial for overall health.

And being in better health and shape means you will be better at work, be able to play with your kids, and be a more pleasant person to be around in general.

And let’s not forget the self-defense element. After a certain age, the chances of being involved in a street fight drastically decrease just because you stop being in certain places, and at times these things happen the most, but you never know what might happen or when you will be forced to defend yourself or loved ones. And we all know the track record of BJJ for self-defense.

BJJ Over 40 Training Tips

BJJ Over 40 Tips

Training jiu-jitsu in your 40s and even later is excellent, without a doubt. But as much as I like to say age is only a number, it’s not entirely sure.

You can enjoy and even compete in BJJ at any age, but to do so, training must be adjusted according to your fitness level, which will inevitably decrease with the years.

Prioritize Safety And Recovery

After a certain age, safety and recovery become paramount, and your training should reflect that. Even if you’ve never stopped training and have always been in shape, recovery times gradually increase, and injuries heal up slower, so training smart and in a way that makes injuries less likely in the first place is crucial.

Listen to your body, notice how it responds to varying training loads, and adjust accordingly. Training hard all the time is a good approach for fast results in your 20s, but it can be catastrophic in your 40s.

Consistency is key, and it’s better to train often and less intensely than to give it all you’ve got and then recover for days or even weeks.

Use The Suitable Techniques and Tactics

The following important aspect is techniques and tactics. Speed and agility are two of the first things to go as you get over a certain age, and some were never athletic, to begin with.

Tactics for rolling and competition should revolve around the basics and techniques that don’t involve high-energy moves or moves relying heavily on flexibility or speed.

As your physical attributes start to deteriorate, you need to focus on getting maximum results with the least effort or, in business terms, getting the highest return on investment on the mats. This includes carefully looking for windows of opportunity and only using high percentage attacks.

And a common tactic, like the great John Danaher says in his videos, is to work in a way that exhausts the opponent much more than you do. Eventually, no matter how fit they are, you can wear them down through methodical, steady pressure.

These strategies are great for those over 40 and generally for non-athletic people. Remember, the initial aim of BJJ was to create an opportunity for physically weaker individuals to defeat stronger ones, which still works despite the level the sport has evolved to.

With that said, if you have the physical strength and agility to do whatever you want, by all means, do it. People who have been training since their teens usually haven’t lost much, so there is no point in limiting yourself intentionally. If you can and want to do cartwheel passes and flying triangles as a 47-year-old, then go for it.

BJJ For Old Guys

With more and more older people getting hooked on BJJ, the demand for specific approaches for them has been high. As you progress in age, some physical attributes start to diminish.

And if we are realistic about it, most people starting late are also looking into a fun way of getting into shape, and BJJ seems like a perfect fit. But those people are usually in bad shape overall, not simply because of their years but their poor lifestyle.

This is not an accusation, just an explanation of how things are. Luckily for everyone, BJJ has so many moves and possible tactics that everyone can find moves and approaches working for him.

Over the past few years, great instructors like John Danaher and Bernardo Faria, among others, have created detailed instructionals aimed at older folks who want to beat or at least be competitive with their younger and more athletic training partners.


40 years of age is still young for BJJ. Professional athletes in their 40s compete at the highest level, and training as a hobby is natural for this age. But the question is common, and some people may be dissuaded from entering the gym due to their “advanced” age, and hopefully, this article has spoken sense to them.

You can have fun, be motivated, and learn new things at any age. And the 40s is not even old by any standards, so don’t lose more time and start rolling.