01 January 2014

Advice for People Starting a Martial Art Later in Life

There are many who have always wanted to train martial arts, and perhaps secretly still do, but for various personal or financial reasons have not yet done so. But with age, after many years of watching movies actioned packed with martial arts or professional mixed martial arts fighting, or boxing events, the idea and reminder of their dreams when they were younger slip back in on them in their 30s or 40s, or any time later on in life. A lot of people let themselves be talked themselves out of it, citing various reasons like “I am way too old to start martial arts now,” or “Our bodies are really not equipped for that sort of thing anymore,” or “There is no way I could get back in shape to be able handle that.” We are sorry you waited this long…but rest assured, IT IS NOT TOO LATE.

The truth is that many of the excuses that are made as to why starting martial arts at an older age may be more difficult are actually quite true, however, your approach and mentality to overcoming these obstacles are within reach. Here are some tips on
starting martial arts later on in life:

1. Do not be afraid to take it slow. You may be very tempted to push as hard as you can when you first step on the mat, in effort to try to keep up with younger athletes, and the more experienced students, to prove to yourself that you deserve to be there. This is especially true for older students going back to martial arts training after having been away from it for years. Don’t do this. Let your body and let your mind adjust to your new routine gradually, perhaps by doing fewer reps, or by moving more slowly, or taking breaks when necessary. Gradually build on your strength and stamina, pushing yourself a little more each week as you feel comfortable so you don’t burn yourself out right at the start. Martial arts lifestyle for older adults is very beneficial, and speed should not be a factor; at least not in the beginning.

2. Always listen to your body while training martial arts. You may have certain limitations as to what your body can do as compared to younger people with whom you might be training. Do not expect to be able to do everything the younger or more experienced students are doing. Regardless of age or experience, different people have different pain tolerances, ranges of motion, and different histories of injury. And in martial arts, you can let your unique body capabilities become your own strengths within the sport. If something feels painful or uncomfortable in any way, stop and ask the instructor for alternatives, and to be sure you are doing the position correctly. It could be something that your martial arts partner is doing incorrectly, or maybe something you are doing wrong, or it could be the unique limitations of your own body. Your instructor should be the best person to make the call, but even then, if you still don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason, remember that you have the last say when it comes to your body and should exercise it as you see fit.

3. Be patient. You may notice other younger students progressing faster than you over time. It can be frustrating. Always attempt to focus on enjoying your training at your own level, without comparing yourself to others. With patience and time, you will progress farther than you ever thought possible. And when you arrive at that moment, you will have completely earned it.

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