INTERVIEWS — 29 September 2013

There’s no getting around it: we all have busy lives!  No matter what your job entails, how hectic your social life is or what school throws at you, we all have specific things that we deem important to our immediate life that demands attention and action.

I always use the term, “life happens” because it’s true!  There’s a difference between making an excuse for not training—“Um…my dog ate my Gi.”—and having a legitimate reason not making it to the gym.

Myself, I’m a big advocate of never missing training.  Seeing that I run my own academy, I practically live at my gym, allowing me ample mat time to work.

However, as I said, life happens and we all can’t have that luxury, especially the older grapplers out there that might be reading this.

Curious as to how older grapplers deal with the issue of finding proper training time, I recently talked with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Stephen Whittier to get his take on customizing your training schedule and being able to make it work as you deal with everyday life. Part of the interview is in the video I have provided below. He has released a course called BJJ over 40 which you can check out the full review here!

Being Realistic With Your Goals

Steve is one of the top BJJ black belts over 40

Right off the bat, Stephen said the above statement when I asked him about training.  Rather simply, Whittier is a big supporter of not trying to be Superman on the mat.  You can lie about your age to others, but not yourself.  It’s a fact, younger grapplers bounce back faster than older grapplers.

“Even if you keep yourself in great shape, even if you’re an outlier,” Whittier expresses, “as we get older, you do take longer to recover.”  This is exactly why Stephen stresses being realistic with yourself and not to try and do too much.

As we get older, our responsibilities outside of BJJ become much greater.  With a profession and a family to maintain, mat time can very easily become scarce.  To this, Whittier suggests that you structure your training after your personal life. In my this article on BJJ addict I cover the best ways for older fighters to train.

“How can you train as efficiently as a possible?  Jiu Jitsu is all about efficiency.”

Utilizing Your Mat Time Properly

After you have worked out your schedule to where it allows you to train, you must now use that time wisely to make yourself better.

While talking with Stephen, he stressed that being relaxed while on the mat is a vital piece to the puzzle.  He’s a firm believer in not just being physically relaxed, but mentally relaxed as well!  If you are tense in the mind, then your body becomes tense, leading to various injuries.

Once you are calm, it’s time to train.  This is where things can go either way, and it all depends on you.  When training, don’t try to be someone else!  “It’s an unconscious fault of the instructor,” Whittier explains, “to try and copy someone else.”

If you see Marcelo Garcia or Royce Gracie do something, it doesn’t mean you can too.

At the end of the day, it’s a must that you understand that time is of the essence when it comes to training, and to use it properly!

Dan Faggella

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