Can Senior Citizens Start Jiu Jitsu?

Absolutely, if the instructor has the right mindset! Here's the problem, though - most instructors cater their Jiu Jitsu training to younger folks. 

When I was searching this topic, I saw the most asinine response to a similar question. The question was, "Can old people do Jiu Jitsu?", and the responses were typically along the lines of yes, just look at Helio Gracie or Rickson Gracie. These gentlemen have been doing Jiu Jitsu since they were children. Their entire life and livelihood is Jiu Jitsu! Hardly a fair comparison to, say, my Dad, who is 80 and has not done martial arts ever in his life.

Could my 80 year old Dad start Jiu Jitsu? Well, it depends on the teacher. Sport school? Not on your life. How about a Gracie school, like Humaita? NOPE, I would like to see my Dad live some more years! 

The training regimen and methodology tends to favor the younger. However, Rener Gracie says, "Jiu Jitsu can be adapted to anyone." 

And I fully agree! Methodology is important. Today, there is so much emphasis on Randori, that it is weeding out the people who need Jiu Jitsu the most - the weaker of society. 

The Japanese created a brilliant concept of Kata, or prechoreographed routines, as a way to develop the fundamental ideas of the techniques, in a safe and predictable manner. Once someone showed proficiency in the Kata, then they moved onto Randori. 

So If the Jiu Jitsu school made their beginner class very focused on Kata, that is, prechoreographed drills, it definitely would make their programs a lot more accessible. 

Kata and forms have gotten a really bad rap, not because of the fact that it is not directly organic combat, but for people making their combat ability more than what it actually is by doing very good Kata. So I think the concept of Kata is not necessarily refuted, as much as the notion that someone deems themselves a high level master having focused more on Kata than Randori.

For a senior citizen starting out in Jiu Jitsu, I would say start with focusing on Kata first, to get your mind and body connected with the structure and geometries of the motions. Then work on timing and energy of the Kata.

Hopefully, after that, you will have developed some sound foundational attributes, and begin a very light and limited Randori. Over time, you can increase the scope of the Randori very progressively.

When people talk about particular Jiu Jitsu moves, I always think, yeah, that's cool, but could your mother or grandmother do that move to protect herself? If not, then what would you do or tell your mother or grandmother if she wanted to learn to protect herself? 

The beauty is, there is a curriculum in place that is meant to be the most scalable Jiu Jitsu program out there, and it can be adapted to anyone. Will it make you a Jiu Jitsu master? No. Will it give you a foundation of Self Defense oriented Jiu Jitsu that you could potentially build off of? Yes.

 

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