About five years ago, I did BJJ about five times a week. It was one of my favorite hobbies of all time with the exception of all the amount of "annoyances" that came with it:

  • carpal tunnel pain
  • finger numbness
  • knee pain
  • lower back pain
  • bumps and bruises
  • back thrown out
  • knee injury
  • toe injuries

With the advent of a family, fatherhood, and career ambition, it took a backseat to my life and eventually was phased out. But I have a daydream of getting back into it.

The problem is I'm 41 now and I can't show up to work in crutches and elbow braces anymore. Is this type of high-intensity sport better suited for a young man's life?

  • 1
    +1 - I feel like this is a good question. Although subjective, the answers provided could help readers find out what works for them based on the experiences of others.
    – jmort253
    Mar 3, 2011 at 6:38
  • Stretches can help with carpal tunnel pain and finger numbness. The rest of it can be improved by both strength and stretching. The strength builds toughness for the muscles and prevents certain strain related injuries. The stretching makes the muscles more flexible also preventing a different style of strain related injury. That said, nothing is going to stop bumps and bruises. In your BJJ class, did they teach you to fall properly? Good technique when hitting the ground can mean the difference between getting back up and not. May 10, 2011 at 17:03

4 Answers 4


Work into it slowly. If you're experiencing that many problems from it often, then you are likely training too hard. I've known 70 year olds who could easily out-do me in the martial arts without breaking a sweat or getting injured. It has far less to do with your age than with your experience and endurance.

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    I agree with this completely. As long as you don't overtrain you shouldn't have any problems.
    – 에이바
    Mar 1, 2011 at 21:37
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    Also agree. Just make sure to take it SLOW, maybe exercise for a few months to get in shape before you start BJJ (which are usually fairly intense). Going from doing "nothing" to very intense workouts right away is how people get injured. Give your body plenty of time to adapt. Mar 2, 2011 at 16:00

I did gymnastics as a kid and tried to get back into it two years ago.

I trained hard before going back to the gym, however I found my body couldn't deal with it.

I tried to ease myself in and I was still able to do a lot of what I could before, but I was finding I was waking up the next day and something would be strained or incredibly sore (I don't just mean owwww.... I mean "I better not put pressure on that for a while" sort of pain) so I gave it up again after 3 months.

I spoke to a GP and they said if I wanted to do it I would need to take baby steps, but to do it seriously I can't just do the basics all the time. You want to have some serious fun otherwise its not worthwhile.

Don't let this put you off, however I assume it will either be very tiny steps and go very slowly otherwise you may find yourself in some pain.


I'm 41. I was doing regular workouts 2 times a week, and am now doing Jui Jitsu 1 time a week. This feels about right. I'm 8 weeks in now, and am recovering within 2-3 days (where it took the full week after the first session). While it is much more abusive than my regular workouts, it is becoming easier as my body adapts to it (and I learn not to 'muscle' it).


Never thought I'd hear BJJ described as high intensity. For BJJ specifically, look around for another club that has a more relaxed and safety focused atmosphere, and you could do it at 90 years old. If you're training in a club where the meatheads think BJJ and MMA are the same thing, and consider it more of a fight club than somewhere to train, even if you're 25 you're going to get hurt.

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    BJJ is grappling; it's intense by it's very nature. To progress, you need technique, strength, endurance, balance, and a desire to win. To build those attributes, you need to push yourself, and those who push themselves the hardest, gain the most. That doesn't make you a meathead, just competitive. My point was there is an eventual conflict as you get older.
    – blue
    Jun 27, 2012 at 1:48
  • I know what BJJ is. It doesn't have to be intense, if your technique is good, endurance isn't much of a factor because you don't use much energy. Same goes for strength, particularly when you're wearing a gi.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jun 27, 2012 at 2:10
  • Your answer wasn't insulting; it was uninformed. Read about the man who really created BJJ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helio_Gracie), read about BJJ's most prestigious tournament (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), and then go back and watch those ancient videos that made it so popular (youtube.com/watch?v=9YStacVU9kQ). It's the epitome of intensity and to say otherwise is really misleading. Sorry if my initial downvote upset you so much, but I didn't think it was a good answer and the reason I left a comment was to say why.
    – blue
    Jun 27, 2012 at 5:48
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    I know about Helio, and he's a perfect example of being able to do BJJ in your nineties, and that it isn't so intense that only young guys can do it. Think about it though, did you ever hear about Helio in his old age rolling with someone with a huge chip on his shoulder, like Wallid Ismail? If you're rolling with Wallid, yeah, it's going to be intense all the time, but he also has a huge attitude problem too.
    – Robin Ashe
    Jun 27, 2012 at 7:04
  • I removed the comments about the downvotes, either you agree or you disagree. Everybody is free to vote as they wish, such is life.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jun 27, 2012 at 10:10

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