Martial Arts After 40

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Many people think about taking a martial art for various reasons: self defense, sport, social activity, fitness, and family fun, but they never do it because family life, school, or their job kept them too busy when they were young.  Now a baby boomer they think about what they missed, but think they are too old to take classes.  This is not true.  One is never too old, simply one must find what martial art fits them at their present age.  It is true that in such arts as karate and Taekwondo, these students peak in their 20's and early 30's, but as one gets older, the flash of these arts become less important.  It is here where the person over 40 makes an assessment.  Why do I want to study a martial art? Well, for some, it is about fitness and health.  For others it is a outlet for socialization.  Yet for some more serious about the martial arts, it is about common sense self defense as one gets older and becomes an easy target in the eyes of a thug.  

It is true that over 40 one does not have the range of motion, the agility or speed of a 25 year old.  Arts like karate and Taekwondo where punching and kicking are drilled and sparring is often done can and does cause older people to op out of studying due to pain and injury.  It is here where a deeper look at options is important.  The block, punch and kick of tournament karate is not always useful in real self defense situations anyway.  And flashy jumping and spinning kicks only look good on "Walker, Texas Ranger."  Often older people are attacked in small quarters where space is limited.  Arts like Aikido and Hapkido, that teach pain compliance and control are better suited in these situations. These are great arts for self defense.  At Black Dragon Martial Arts we teach Tactical Hapkido.  An art that is totally self defense oriented, easy to learn and very effective if one is grabbed or attacked in a tight space ie. an elevator.  It teaches how to control the attack.  People often ask about ground fighting arts, but one should consider this, "Do I really want to roll around in this parking lot?"  It might be fun with nice mats, but concrete with glass and rocks is another story.  

For those looking for health and range of motion, Tai Chi is a great form of exercise, based in the martial arts.  It is often known as meditation in motion.

So, as one can see, you are never too old to start. The trick is finding the right art for you and the right school and instructor who understands your personal goals.

Before starting any exercise program one should check with their physician.  An active person at 50 can be 100% functional where a sedentary person of the same age declines by 75%.

Happy training.