How old is too old???

Hey guys great thread,I have been involved in some sort
of martial art since I was 8 years old and this year I
hit that magic number 40,when I was training in the traditional arts as a youngster most everyones saying
went something like this "you can always do kata even when you get olderNOT", I don't think so, I think one can always train in a reality concept even in older age,I like rolling in bjj with guys in their twenties and feeling alive ,as far as striking goes with a little creativity and smart training one can keep it very real.

The main goal should be to stay in shape year round
to be able to withstand the demands of training and
proper rest is essential.

Can you imagin an older competitive swimmer wanting to
practice all the mechanical strokes outside of the pool
without wanting to get wet and jump in,can he really
claim to be a swimmer?I don't think so.

Greorge foreman
Jerry rice (39)
Nolan Ryan(40+)

40 isnt old unless you let it be old.
And what about Hulk Hogan? I know its fake but its still tough and he's gotta be 60.

Depending on the person i would say the cut off age would be 60.


You might consider buying me that beer BEFORE we begin.
If afterwards, just tell the kind nurse to run an alcohol drip in my IV. ;-P


I enjoy reading Matt Thornton's commentary regarding the use of live training. Is it correct to say once you turn fourty you begin to lose speed, timing and reflexes. My question is, what age is considered too old for sparring (striking and grappling)? As you progress in age entering your late fourties, fifties, and then sixties what does your training consist of, is it still possible to do live training as you progress in age and what form does it take on? I'm fourty two years old, and sometimes I wonder if at fifty should I stop doing hard style training and focus on arts like tai chi.

Randy was in awesome shape at the seminar, the same with Gil Castillo who is also almost 40. Don't forget Tim Catalfo is also like 43 or 44, and Helio still trains lightly (that guy has to be at least 120-130).

Jason (who is now 26 and is feeling over the hill)

great question!

Actually there is no need to revert to tai chi. Keep in mind Randy Couture is 40 now (I am pretty sure, if not sorry randy!), and I think he is without a doubt one of most conditioned men I have ever met. He wears down young athletic guys in thier 20's with no problems.
Rickson is 40 something now. One our Instructors, Lloyd Stockton, became an Instructor at age 52.

Also, Steve(romeo)Boyd (another SBG Instructor)is at least 59 now. And look at Paul Sharp!

Seriously you just have to do three things:

1) Stay in shape at all times. (You should do this anyway, as I assume you care about your body)

2) Train smart, that is do not over train.

3) Use progressive resistence. There is no need to go balls out very often. In fact I think many people would be suprised to see how Athletes like Couture and others train for MMA. There is a false idea out there that it is rough and brutal. It really isnt, he makes thousands for fighting, and can't afford to be injured or hurt before an event. You just have to train smart.

That's also why I love Jits, it can be done slow and gentle and still be highly effective. What a beautiful Art!

Remember, if you can't pull of Tai Chi, or Silat, or Aikido, etc, now, as a younger, strong man, what good will it do you when you are older and less athletic? (This is why it cracks me up when I hear people talking about saving those arts for when they are old. What sense does that make?!)You need to use the same moves, you just have to be wiser, and smarter about how you apply them, and how you train.

Hope that helps.

-Matt Thornton

I think there comes a time when doing hard striking against much younger guys isn't such a good idea. But as for grappling, you can do that until you die. Where I train (BJJ) there's a 45yr old blue belt that just beat (twice even) an 18yr former HS wrestler (aside the HD kid is 18yrs old and has been training for ~1mo).

Matt Thorton, thanks so much for your comments.
Dan Inosanto is probably around sixty years old and so is Chuck Norris. Do you think if some young strong guy tried to assault these guys, they would be able to defend themselves? I guess because I'm starting to enter that time in my life, I think about these type of things? I believe statiscally speaking the elderly are the biggest targets for young criminals to victimize, and I often think about if I will be able to defend myself when I get older (fify years old and up).


That's a relative question. Who are these guys, etc. If two young strong guys attacked me at the same time I would be in trouble myself. There is no fantasy Art that makes it easy to deal with 'young strong guys'. Wish there was, I'd do it!

Do you know what a bitch it is to have to lift weights, wrestle, roll, put on gloves and get hit in the head, etc. Sometimes it sucks. Moral being, it's not easy to be a good fighter, no matter what age you are.

But, you can ask yourself this question, would you rather KNOW exactly what you can do, and cannot. Exactly what you are capable of, and even more importnatly, what you may not be capable of?

If so, then training athleticly, and Alive is for you. Some people don't really want to know the answers to those questions.

So long story short. . .yes, it is possible, but of course it will harder to do as you get older. Anyone that says it won't is being dishonest with you, or ignorant.

The above stated exmples are also good ones. Rigan recently told me that Dan Inosanto is the one student he has had who has never missed a private in years. He is on the mat nearly everday. With a bad back, and in his 60's. Helio, and Norris are also good examples.

Have faith. . .take care of your body and I am sure you will kicking younger guy's around the Gym in no time!

-Matt Thornton

I am about to turn 36. I've manged to stay in decent shape because I've not stopped working out (although I could use some improvement). I find that when I start and stop, it just gets harder every time to make any progress. Ya just have to keep plugging along and resist the urge to stop in your tracks. It works for me.

Now I'm about to drive several hours to pay Adam Singer (and Rory) to work me over. It is the very thing that keeps me young (and beautiful). I must be getting senile in my advancing age...

It's time for my Metamucil!


Nicely put Robert, I should have put this myself:

(don't compare yourself to younger guys or even guys your age who are professional Compare yourself only to the person you were yesterday.)

That is a beautiful and important point.

-Matt Thornton

This is a great question and some great answers.

I am 39 and I know that I am bigger, faster, stronger then I was in my twenties. I believe that people can continue to improve for years and years. Look at Clarence Bass ( for a little inspiration. For me, I know that I train smarter and I do my best to stay in shape year round.

I train regularly with guys and gals older then me and we use the SBG training model as our own. These people stay in shape and can hang with just about anyone.

Remember, "ALIVENESS" and "SPARRING" don't have to mean beat the crap out of each other.

I also work fulltime as a trainer and many of my fellow trainers are older (and more fit) then I.

Train smart. If you have let yourself go...Ease back into things, but don't defeat yourself with erroneuos conclusions about your age related limitations. Many limitations are self imposed. Only YOU may decide how far YOU can go.

If you need a place to start with some nutrition or conditioning help, check out the "coaches corner" on the SBG web-site. Add some spice to your workouts with some Interval training (shameless plug).

Remember you decide how far you go...Start now and find out just where that is.


TAKU are you Liam?

-Matt Thornton

Smartmonkey...Matt...Yes it's me...Liam.

TAKU = Liam.

I should have told you sooner.


The older you get the more you want to train ALIVE if your goal is functional skills; you don't want to waste months or (in my case) years on developing skills that do not translate to real fighting. I wish I had train this way from the get go.
Read Matt's "The NEXT step Aliveness plus" and look for somewhere to teach you those BASICS.

"You don't want to waste months or (in my case) years on developing skills that do not translate to real fighting. I wish I had train this way from the get go."

When I read that it reminded me of those people who lamented the 20,30,40+ years they spent in traditional karate. It made me sad to hear their pain.

Unfortunately, there are still those who cling to outdated ideas because they can't accept that all those years were "wasted" and that they now have to start from scratch. Fortunately, Matt hasn't given up trying to bring people "into the light" despite arguments from traditionalists.

I'm glad he was able to reach me. Although I was already leaning towards alive training, Matt's message really helped improve my outlook on the way I train so I won't have to look back on years of training with regret. Thank you Matt!


P.S. I'd like to compete in MMA, my body willing, till I'm 50. In this way, I feel like I still have 20 years ahead of me :). As a result, training realistically yet injury-free is imperative to my approach. We'll see how it goes.

very good thread! should be archived.

Adam...I take back what I said...I am not looking forward to seeing you at camp. :-)