Martial Arts Tips for Middle Aged Beginners
Many people start their martial arts journey in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Most of these adult beginners have a great time but they need to make some adjustments in order to succeed. Therefore, here are some general guidelines and tips for middle-aged adults who are thinking about beginning martial arts training:
- See A Doctor – Before starting martial arts training, please see a doctor and get his/her opinion if you are physically fit enough to participate. Martial arts training can be very vigorous and can put significant stress on the body.
- Try Before You “Buy” – Try a short trial membership first (i.e. two weeks). See if you like the classes, your instructor, fellow students, etc. Don’t lock into a long-term contract unless you are really sure that you like it.
- Stretch, Stretch… and Stretch Some More – As you age, your muscles and tendons become less flexible. In other words, it is easier to hurt yourself. Remember to stretch before, during and after your martial arts class. Concentrate on all areas of your body but put increased emphasis on your individual “problem areas” (i.e. hamstrings).
- Work On Your Strength & Conditioning – To better withstand the rigors of martial arts training and overcome the effects of sitting behind a work desk for most of the week, you should work on your conditioning and strength training at home.
- Talk To The Instructor – Most instructors are very accommodating to adults. Remember we are ones that write the checks, have kids who might attend the school and who have friends who might become members. So talk to the instructors if you have a problem or a question.
- Ask For Help – If you are having a problem with a technique, ask for help. The instructors and other students want to help. They remember what it was like when they were “newbies”.
- Take A Break – If the training is too intense, take a break either in the dojo or during the week. Catch your breath and come back. Your stamina and endurance will improve as you continue your training.
- You Will Get Hurt – Unfortunately, you are no longer a spring chicken. Therefore, you will occasionally get hurt… so be ready mentally for the inevitable sprain, bruise and/or ache.
- Don’t Rush Back – If you are hurt (i.e. sprained ankle), take some time off & let things heal. You will only make things worse if you rush back & aggravate the injury. See a doctor if you are injured. Do not self-diagnose.
- Lose Some Weight – If you are lighter, it will help to reduce the pressure on your knees & feet. You will also have more energy because you will be hauling around fewer pounds.
- Practice at Home – Work and family issues make finding time for martial arts classes difficult. Therefore, practice at home. Buy a practice dummy and practice your kicks & punches, buy a book and practice your kata, etc.
- Shoes – Wear martial art shoes if allowed. These will protect your feet & toes from dislocations and some bruising. The downside is a little less control on some of the more advanced kicks (i.e. spinning hook kick). Bare feet are more “slippery” than shoes so it is easier to spin.
- Tape – If you practice without shoes, please consider taping your toes and/or ankles.
- Balance Training – As we get older, some of us become less steady on our feet. Therefore, you should do additional martial arts balance exercises in order to counter any future balance issues.
- Kids – If you have children, you should try to take martial arts classes with them. It is a great family bonding experience!
- Develop An Expertise – You might not have the best spinning hook kick but you probably have better memory and concentration than the youngsters. Focus on a favorite area to master. For example, become a kata expert so you can teach others and show off your superior martial arts wisdom.
- Gentle Martial Arts – Explore “gentler” martial arts (such as Tai Chi) if you are worried about being injured during vigorous martial arts training.
- Have Fun – Last but not least, you should just focus on having some fun and blowing off steam after a long day at work. You won’t be as flexible as the kids in your martial arts class or as strong as the 25 year olds but who cares! Just enjoy yourself. You will love the camaraderie, weight loss, stress relief and non-stop aerobic exercise.
- Taekwondo Animals.com, Taekwondo for Adult Beginners, http://www.taekwondoanimals.com/taekwondo-for-adult-beginners.asp, Added – 10/02/14