He Started BJJ At 57 Years Old & 300 Lbs. Now, He’s A 61-Year-Old Athlete At The Top Of His Game

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Image Source: Dave Brown

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Your story gives me hope. Not that I could ever imagine achieving so much, but that starting BJJ at 55 (now almost 57) was not insane! I have no prior experience with any type of competitive sports. I am a blue belt and currently have a love/hate attitude towards Jiu Jitsu. I train Gi 5x a week/ No Gi 2-3x a week. Many nights I am primarily playing defense and am lucky if I don’t end up tapping out. Accept for one man who is my age all I roll with at my gym are from 10-30 years younger than I am. I often leave class feeling hopeless and depressed; but I will return the next day for more training. I can’t stand the idea that I would leave BJJ because I was incompetent – was sidelined about 6 months after about 1 year due to rotator cuff surgery and came back.

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