Sometimes a quote can provide a sudden insight into an aspect of jiu-jitsu for you. Like a twist of the camera lenses, suddenly an idea comes into sharp focus for you and a new understanding results. For many of the bjj students who are over 40 years of age the question becomes “How can I stay on the mat and prolong my jiu-jitsu training?”
My absolute favorite quote by Master Carlos Gracie communicates his philosophy on the subject of longevity and training longer in your jiu-jitsu career.
“I don’t get this obsession with all of the acrobatic guards. They are efficient, sure. But they’re fleeting. Your body has difficulty understanding them for too long. I say this from my own experience. The lumbar region, for example, as strong as it may be, will never be armored against the passage of time. Jiu-jitsu is for your whole lifetime, and by that line of reasoning you can rest assured that the basic techniques like the closed guard or this open guard I enjoy doing, will never abandon us. At 70 we’ll still be capable of performing them with plenty of mobility. That can’t be said of the tornado guard or the berimbolo.”
Master Carlos Gracie Jr.
Master Carlos is conveying that we want to build our jiu-jitsu around a style and techniques that do NOT rely on the physical attributes of speed, strength ,flexibility, agility and great endurance. Yes, we should strive to be at the top physical condition that our individual capabilities allow.
But always build your jiu-jitsu around a solid foundation of basic techniques “the basic techniques like the closed guard or this open guard I enjoy doing” that do not rely on the attributes of:
Always assume that you will be smaller and weaker and slower than your opponent and seek to develop your technique to a degree of precision so that you can deal with the position. If you have those attributes, great!
However, when I see an athlete who has a style of jiu-jitsu that is heavily reliant on their physical attributes, I have to ask: “How will that athlete’s jiu-jitsu hold up when they are faced with an opponent who is FASTER or STRONGER than they are? When they no longer possess the advantages that they rely on?”
Here are 2 videos showing the patient, smooth, non-attribute reliant style jiu-jitsu of Master Carlos Gracie.
Carlos Gracie Jr x Marcio Feitosa
Carlos Gracie Jr Competitive Sparring
An attribute based game of a young athletic game are : speed, strength, explosiveness, extreme flexibility (see inverting) and huge gas tank. For your longevity in jiu-jitsu, develop your timing, anticipation, keeping correct space, and patience for the correct time to execute your techniques.
Train a jiu-jitsu that will serve you well even after your athletic attributes start to fade.
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam