Old Man Jiu-Jitsu

Welcome to Old Man Jiu-Jitsu!

A Home for the Mature Grappler.

Meet "Pops," a 58-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 4-stripe brown belt practitioner and instructor, mentored by the 3rd-degree black belt Professor Rudy Vasquez, under 8th-degree Coral belt, Master Carlos Machado, specializing in both BJJ and MMA. Known for his unique ability to connect with older practitioners, Pops goes beyond merely instructing, enhancing their grappling skills through practical wisdom and expert guidance.

Being intimately acquainted with the challenges faced by mature practitioners, Pops has not only learned but also developed practical solutions to reintegrate seasoned as well as new students into the competitive arena. Longevity in combat sports is a paramount concern for him, as he endeavors to empower older grapplers to dominate on the mats while maintaining an active life off them. Pops has crafted a comprehensive training system, allowing him to engage in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA sessions seven days a week, completing an impressive average of 90 rolls per week for the past four years and counting. A fusion of scientific knowledge, relentless hard work, and well-honed skills has not only enabled him to survive but to truly excel on the mats 

Discovering "Old Man Jiu-Jitsu"

"Old Man Jiu-Jitsu" serves as a place to delve into how mature Jiu-Jitsu and MMA practitioners can not only endure but thrive on the mat, even when faced with younger, faster, and stronger opponents, well into their seventies. The approach involves leveraging patience, wisdom, experience, and science to extend one's involvement in combat sports. Mere perseverance is not the goal; the aim is to dominate adversaries through a rich repertoire of knowledge and skills.

Pops, understanding the unique experience of being an older participant in a field dominated by youth, shares firsthand insights on what it takes to persist and thrive. He sheds light on what motivates older grapplers and the driving force behind younger opponents' relentless attempts to overcome them. If you find yourself on the mat, having surpassed the so-called hill, or contemplating joining the ranks, you've likely found the right community.

Navigating the Realm of Age

Determining when one is considered "old" often coincides with the increased difficulty of dealling with challenges that were once seemingly simple. In the world of BJJ, physical attributes play a significant role, so older grapplers must adapt, replacing physical limitations with knowledge and discipline. Despite age related constraints, the spirit of older practitioners remains unyielding. While our bodies may have set limits, our ambition and love for the fight keep us relevant and motivated. We may move like wooden battleships, but we pack a formidable punch, equipped with sharp teeth and a willingness to face pain and frustration head-on. Taking time away from the mat is often more daunting than the prospect of aging, and coping with our handicaps forces us to evolve in ways younger fighters have yet to comprehend.

We also measure victory differently, cherishing the effects of wisdom, patience, and sheer determination. In a society where aging is synonymous with slowing down, settling in, and stepping aside, we defy expectations, charging ahead at full steam and continue to lead. There's nothing average about us, and only a select few of our age group truly understand our drive to continue battling on the mats.

"Our ambition transforms us into our greatest opponents, fans, and critics."

I am Todd Nelson, a 58-year-old BJJ Brown belt, training predominantly with younger Jiu-Jitsu and MMA fighters under the age of 30. In a school where only five of us are over 45, including my wife and three others, we remain a benchmark by which younger fighters measure themselves. Together, we balance life, health, training, teaching, and fighting into our twilight years.

Embarking on the Jiu-Jitsu Journey

My journey in Jiu-Jitsu began in 2018, and it quickly became my passion. Over the past six years, I've not only gained profound insights into Jiu-Jitsu and MMA but also learned to excel against opponents of all ages and sizes. Through numerous humbling experiences, I've developed a deep admiration for everyone I roll with. Regular competition, where the average age of my opponents is 26, has become a testament to my commitment.

Challenges of Competing as an Older Warrior

Being older presents its share of challenges, especially in competitions where organizers struggle to place the "old dude." Despite frustrations, fueled by being placed in the unlimited weight, any age group class, I continue to persevere. Engaging in battles with young monsters, aware of the unspoken judgments, becomes a regular feat. Survival and flourishing against such odds are hard-earned, with each match extracting its eventual toll. The prize comes in many forms, but none so rewarding as self-pride. It is often stated that a very tiny percentage of the population trains in BJJ or any martial art, but older practitioners are an even smaller subset of those few.

Navigating the Sea of Youthful Zeal

Frequently rolling with younger enthusiasts, often mentally and physically vying for supremacy, is a common occurrence. Coaching the occasional overzealous participant down to reality has become routine. The term "Old man's strength" echoes in the gym, but I wear it with pride. After all, isn't "Old Man Strength" the ability to use wisdom to triumph over impulse?

Old Man Strength: Reality or Myth?

The debate around whether older individuals possess inherent strength or if it's a myth perpetuated by younger opponents is explored. Beyond this, insights into the mindset and strategies of older competitive grapplers are shared. Understanding older practitioners, especially those who started grappling late in life, requires a unique perspective. Having a guide to navigate this journey can save years of hardship and pain while keeping the flame of motivation burning.

Age Is Relative

We've all experienced the passage of time, grappling with the challenges of aging physically and mentally. The definition of "old" is subjective, and the measure of our limits is a personal choice. The material ahead is not exclusive to the old; it holds value for anyone facing challenges like being overweight, smaller or weaker than average, or limited by physical or mental handicaps. The strategies, concepts, and overall philosophy presented are adaptable to any grappling arsenal, regardless of experience level.

Embrace the spirit of "Old Man Jiu-Jitsu" – where age is a mere number, and the pursuit of knowledge and resilience knows no bounds.