How Older Grapplers Can Deal With Younger, Athletic Grapplers

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you have spent many years spending countless hours putting time in on the mat.  Working day-and-night to get better, you have sacrificed a lot to get to your current skill level.  For that, I applaud you and your dedication towards Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Helio proved that anyone can grapple over the age of 40

Helio proved that anyone can grapple over the age of 40

However, for those who have dedicated years to the sport, you know as well as I do that it is an ever-evolving platform that changes with the seasons.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, despite its original principles, has never stayed the exact same since it’s inception.  Every major sport has evolved in some way, shape or form, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

There are grapplers out there that entered the sport in the early 90’s who are now considered to be “older” by grappling standards, and might be struggling to come to grips with the evolution of the sport.

Luckily for those out there reading this, I discussed how older grapplers can improve with black belt Stephen Whittier recently.  A 40+ year old grappler himself, Mr. Whittier shared some valuable tools that older grapplers might be able to use for themselves. He also shared with me more of his secrets and his tips of the trade in his interview in the video below and in this article here!


Narrowing Your Scope Of Training

“When I was a purple belt,” Stephen told me, “I wanted to know every technique there ever was.”

This is a common approach that many novice grapplers have: they want to know everything!  While the ambition is great, and it shows your love for the sport, it isn’t a productive approach.  Once you breakdown just how much goes into the sport and the varying styles involved, it’s almost impossible to master all the techniques!

Casting a wide net can be helpful at times, but in this case, if you take too much on at once, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.  Don’t worry about being a jack-of-all-trades, and focus in one area specifically and make that your calling card.

Know exactly what you want to work on and hash out a plan to do just that.  This will allow you the proper focus that is needed for achieving true success in the sport. 

Persistence Pays Off On The Mat

When matched up with some of these young bucks who are freak athletes-turned-grapplers, it may be hard to figure out a way to defeat them.  When I asked Stephen how older grapplers should approach defeating young grapplers, his answer wasn’t that indepth.

“Chokes are great,” Whittier boasts.  “That’s my short answer.”

His longer answer shines more light on it.  In a nutshell, Whittier told me that the best way to beat an athletic grappler is to grind it out and go at a controlled pace.  Avoid going in guns-blazing, which could easily backfire.  Take a calm approach, and let the match play out as it may.

“Find a way to choke them, even if it takes 40 minutes,” Whittier continued.

Simply put; persistence pays off!  Be willing to do the work that no one else wants to do, and you should see victory very soon! I also interviewed other top BJJ black belts over 4o. If you liked this article you should check out my other ones with the interviews!

Dan Faggella


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