Last week, we shared the submissions of over 30 BJJ athletes over the age of 60 who prove that it’s never too late to start jiu-jitsu. While every submission was incredible and inspiring, 60-year-old (61 in July) Dave Brown’s story really stuck out to us, and with his permission, we’ve decided to share it with you.
Prior to starting jiu-jitsu, I weighed about 300 pounds and was very out of shape. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). My doctor told me that I was at high risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
I attended a no-gi tournament to watch my 28-year-old son compete. I went to the event with no intention of getting involved in BJJ. I was merely a spectator wanting to cheer on my adult son. It was his first competition, and I knew absolutely nothing about jiu-jitsu. However, as soon as I saw it, I knew I would love it and had to give it a try.
As a young person, I was a wrestler. I forgot how much I loved wrestling. While watching the no-gi matches, my competitive juices started to flow and the dream of competing on a mat again became an overwhelming desire for me. My only concern was whether I would be able to do it at my age and my physical condition.
I signed up at Halcyon Jiu-Jitsu in Spring, TX in February 2016. My professor, Matt Smith, asked that I commit to a year with the goal of competing at the 2017 Pans in March of the following year. I gave it my best and the results have been amazing. I lost 100 pounds, my A1C (diabetes indicator) went to mid-normal range, my blood pressure dropped, my heart rate dropped dramatically, I felt great, and I am having the time of my life.
I held my white belt for that first year. I received my blue belt the morning of Pans 2017 and entered the tournament at Masters 5 (I qualified for Masters 6), blue belt super heavyweight division. To my amazement, I won my division. That encouraged me to continue to compete in as many tournaments as I could. During the two years that I had my blue belt, I won gold at many IBJJF tournaments, including World Masters, No-Gi Worlds, Euros, Masters International Europe, American Nationals, Pans, and the Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Boston Opens. I also won gold at the SJJIF World Championship in 2018. Before advancing to purple belt after having my blue belt for two years, I had attained a number-one IBJJF ranking in 4 divisions (Masters 5 gi and no-gi and Masters 6 gi and no-gi).
Recently, I received my purple belt and I am planning on continuing to compete. My first competition at purple belt was 2019 Pans, where I won double gold at Masters 6. I am currently entered into Masters Worlds at Masters 7/Purple/Super Heavy.
To say that my jiu-jitsu journey has exceeded my expectations would be a huge understatement. I would never have believed the improvement in my health. I am much happier than I have been in many decades. I have gained friends from around the world, and I am a part of the very close-knit local community of grapplers. This journey has been amazing; I hope to continue it for many more years to come.
I love sharing my jiu-jitsu story. It started out as a mere dream of competing again. I am glad to be living that dream.