Sep 092015

Doug KimballIf you haven’t had the opportunity to train with Purple Belt Doug Kimball, please make it a point to seek out his knowledge.  Below you will find the article that Doug wrote for Science of Skill:

Perseverance Pays Off Tomorrow – Grappling for Older BJJ Players

By on September 8, 2015
“If your opponent breaks your grip 100 times, you make your grip 101 times.“  This quote from Robson Moura is perfect when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the idea of persevering in your training journey. Granted, for those of us grapplers with a little grey in the hair and creak in our bones, it can be harder to grip the next day, make it to class and in general, just keep going.  While 51 really isn’t that old, there are certainly differences in how an hour of sparring impacts me vs. a 31 year old.  There’s been more than once I get out of bed and think that the soreness in my ribs is telling me I should give it a break.  But if I allow myself to feel old and take more than a few days off from class, that hour of training or sparring has a much bigger impact.  Simply put, age is a number, and you can’t let that define what you do on or off the mats.  If you want to grow your skills, while remaining able to at least keep up with younger, similar level grapplers, you need to persist.  Perhaps a sign above BJJ schools should read Perseverance Pays Off Tomorrow?

Last year, I shared an article about my 50th birthday; I did fifty 5 minute rolls – 50 for 50.  This year I just went to class, rolled afterwards and was much less tired than the same time last year!  While I miss classes at times for business travel, family responsibilities and the occasional “I just don’t wanna…” I average 2-3 classes a week.  Why?  Besides the obvious learning, fitness, and camaraderie of training with great instructors and teammates,  I go because I know every day I’m not there is one less time to repeat a move, learn a new one, practice and sharpen my skills; constant maintenance. For a look at ways to get the most out of your drilling check this article out.  I’ve been told I don’t physically look my age (no comments about acting my age…), and I attribute a lot of that, as well as my own sense of well-being, to training Jiu Jitsu regularly.

However, more recently I’ve really been watching and thinking about other types of students, primarily the new, older students.  The 40+ students that walk in, feeling like they are in the wrong place, watching a bunch of younger players on the mats moving in ways they don’t think they ever will.   That white belt that has come in for a two week trial, facing both nerves and pending body soreness.  Returning class after class takes motivation and a little craziness if you are going to persevere.  As upper belts, we should always be thinking “What can I do to help them to come back, help them to enjoy class, and realize they don’t need to be young to enjoy Jiu Jitsu?”  We’ve all been a white belt at some point and hopefully, we remember what it was like,  especially that moment when an upper belt showed compassion and support.   I do, and I know it made a difference at a time when I had been getting my butt kicked, I hurt all over and thought about skipping class, permanently.

For you older students, go to class, even when you think you don’t feel like it, and train to your limits. Even if you focus only on training most days and spar occasionally, you are adding numbers to your learning hours.  It’s certainly harder to go to class than it is to miss it, but, it’s far harder when you miss for no real reason.   Deciding not to go to class just because you’re tired of getting tapped out is not going to let you progress.   Make the time to train, seek out private lessons, watch training DVD’s (I can highly recommend Robson Moura’s Requirements 2.0 series) and ask your partners “what do I need to work on to be better next time?”  This makes you accountable to show up again and to continually move your training forward.  Just because your opponent broke your grip, or escaped your guard, etc., doesn’t mean you give up.  Come to class, establish your learning journey and don’t let age define your successes.

Perseverance Pays Off Tomorrow

Thanks, and I look forward to your thoughts!

Doug Kimball
RMNU Association Director


Doug Kimball is a purple belt under 8X World Champion Robson Moura, training out of Frequency Martial Arts in Illinois.  in his spare time, he also manages the Robson Moura Nations United Association, and loves what he does!

You can find the original article at

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