Paul Greenhill (A.K.A. The Wise Grappler) is a BJJ guy from Camp Springs Maryland who runs a newsletter for older grapplers (OG). The basic gist of his material is how to keep from being injured by hyper-competitive young jujitsu studs (who he calls ‘young punks’ among other things) while still making the most out of your grappling training. Even folks who might not qualify as “older” but rather “non-traditional” or “non-competitive” grapplers will benefit from this great info source.
Paul delivers his content through a couple of free weekly email newsletters, including an introductory “7 survival secrets every older and non-traditional grappler must know.” you can (and should) check this out by going to http://www.ihateyoungpunks.com/. As an additional benefit beyond the “7 secrets,” Paul sends out weekly inspirational testimonials from older and non-traditional grapplers around the world who have used his advice to their benefit.
Paul’s latest testimonial was so awesome that I wrote him and asked permission to reprint it here:
I've been reading your mails for a few months now and I always enjoy them. I can't really say I can relate to the "young punks" which is a good thing. I thought I wanted to share my BJJ story, I don’t know if I am really a true OG since I am only 32 years old. But I think my story might make me one in the gang.
As said, I am 32 years old going on 33. I was born with a heart condition which stopped me from doing any sports as a child. When I got to my 20ties, I was cleared by the doctors and started to go to the gym to try and work out. Six years ago, sitting in my car on my way to the office, I was involved in a car crash. I was hit from behind and my car was a wreck. I got a whiplash from it and still today, I have problems with stiffness and headaches.
Can it get any worse? Yes it can. My father died suddenly 2 years ago at the age of 64. I was working 60-80h weeks as a managing director for a mobile content company when he passed away. I hit the wall and fell into depressions from the work stress, being a very young manager for 2 countries, and the sudden death of my father was just too much for me.
During my sick leave, I lost my job and the doctors discovered I suffer from Aspegers Syndrome, which is a form of Autism. I was so doped up on anti-depressives and sleeping pill, you wouldn't believe it!
Last summer, I decided enough is enough and I made of my mind to get back to life! I started to try and cut down on the medics despite my doctors wanted to increase my medications. I was going to the gym lifting weights and saw all these punks standing in front of the mirrors trying to look big and scary and I realized I needed something else if I wanted to feel good. I found the gym to be a mentally bad place for me.
What to do?
With all this in my history, I found a gym in the suburbs (here in Sweden, the suburbs are the bad places where you don't want to live). It was a MMA Gym focusing on Shooto (with several pro fighters doing Shooto) and NHB/Vale Tudo. They have a pretty big Muay Thai section too. One of the NHB fighters started a small BJJ section going at 2 days a week. I went in, took the "try out" lesson and I have never looked back!
I've been training now for two semesters and it's great! I am the oldest guy going at it. I am also the only one NOT doing Shooto. Which means everybody is bad ass at no-gi grappling. I never tapped anybody (it's not possible for me). These younger guys who train 4-5 times a week are just too good for me. But so what? We have a great time, no ego, and NO punks! I can be me and people just accepts me and we roll like there is no tomorrow.
When we roll, I always want to roll with the biggest and baddest guys. I learn more from the bigger and the better guys. I feel if I can sweep a 230+ guy, it's much easier to sweep a smaller guy later. I believe you should go in, do your best, and don't care if you tap out. It's when you tap out, you learn and get better. I can't understand guys that want to roll with the weaker guys to "win" the sparring. What do you LEARN from tapping out a weaker guy? If I roll with my coach 1000 times and he taps me 999 and I tap him the 1000 time, who has learned the most and who has evolved?
BJJ has given me so much. I am off all medications, anti-depressives, and sleeping pills. I never ever had cardio before. Now I have some, and I am working on getting better. I am very happy that I don't recognize anything when comes to the young punks.
I feel I am very, very weak in my game and I get my ass handed to me by bigger and smaller guys. It IS kind of hard mentally to get beat up by everybody, BUT at the same time I learn so much from it. I have never had a class were I did not learn and get better. And is that not what it's all about? Getting better, learning new things, testing yourself, and getting better?
Lars, let me first congratulate you on having the inner strength to fight through those issues and put yourself back on track. That in itself is amazing. You are an OG at 32, welcome to the "gang!"
I have to applaud your mat attitude and the way you approach training. The fact that you're more focused on learning and not overly concerned about taking a beating from your teammates, it puts you in a position to be able to give some mat beatings in the future. I get many emails each week from OGs wanting tips to become "hammers" and completely bypass the "nail" phase. You can't bypass it; you need to accept it as fact and go through it! And once you've come to the conclusion that you can take it, you'll be in the position to learn how to be a hammer. And there are LOTs of OG Hammers (OGH) out there on the mats training every day around the world, I hear from them every week! You may not be a hammer right now, Lars. But with your attitude...it's only a matter of time.