It is sometimes difficult an adult to pick up new hobbies. Learning a new sport can take time, and a person’s athletic ability could have declined to an extent that it may be tough to adapt to the demands of that sport. Some try to begin new activities such as running, but those activities can often take a toll on bodies that are not getting younger.
Few would consider martial arts to be a logical choice as an activity that an adult might try as something new, but there are many benefits to taking up martial arts as an activity. Although the large majority of those participating at a single facility might be children, adults will very often participate as well, especially when adults become interested after watching their children enjoy the activity. A person over 30 who participates in martial arts will likely experience an increase in cardio-vascular endurance as well as improvement in flexibility. It is not uncommon for older martial artists to note that they have become more flexible as a result of martial arts than they have ever been in their lives.
The first step in this process is to choose a type of martial art. There are, of course, several different styles, though few are especially good for older beginners. Martial-art styles designed for combat or pure fighting are those more suitable for more experienced marital artists. Examples of these styles include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and a variety of styles under the label mixed martial arts (MMA). These types of forms rely heavily on grappling and other types of fighting on the ground, and older beginners may have a more difficult time with these styles.
Two recommended forms would include Karate and Taekwondo. Few who are unfamiliar with these martial arts know the difference. Karate is a martial art that developed on the JapaneseislandofOkinawa, and its popularity spread throughoutJapanand elsewhere. Many facilities teaching Karate opened throughout theUnited Statesin the 1960s and 1970s, and the word “Karate” became a term often meant to describe any strike-based martial art. Taekwondo, on the other hand, developed inKoreaand has a distinctive style. Whereas Karate practitioners rely heavily on their hands for both offense and defense, Taekwondo artists rely more heavily on their legs.
Karate and Taekwondo facilities are more prevalent than any other style of martial arts, so it is easier for a beginner to find a school. The best schools are operated by those who show an interest in teaching and not just in the business side of running a facility. Many schools offer free introductory lessons, so it is easy to get a feel for whether a facility is the right one. Fellow students can also provide a clue, so if a school has a significant number of adult students, it is probably a good sign that the school is good for adult beginners.
The benefits of both Karate and Taekwondo are similar in that both involve exercises that will improve a student’s cardio-vascular endurance as well as flexibility. The most difficult initial moves will involve kicks that require the student to lift his or her leg above the waist. It is common that a person’s hips and hamstring can lose flexibility with age, so someone over 40 who is not accustomed to kicking high kicks may have some trouble initially with these exercises. However, most see significant improvement over time with practice.
Most facilities have belt systems that signify various ranks. In every facility, a beginner will receive a white belt. The student will receive different colored belts as they progress; for example, a student will often receive a yellow belt after a white belt, an orange belt after a yellow belt, and so forth. Schools usually require students to perform a series of kicks and punches and satisfy other requirements before the students can receive a promotion to a new belt level.
Students may receive a uniform when they sign up at a facility. This typically consists of a white cotton set of a top and pants. The top wraps around the martial artist, and the martial artist uses the belt to keep the top in place. Many facilities do not require students to wear the top at all times, though. Other equipment is optional. This equipment may include shoes and other padding.
Older martial artists are able to participate in competitions just as younger martial artists are. Depending on the competition, a person over 40 may compete against those between ages 40 to 49 or may compete against younger adults (for instance, some tournaments have age brackets for competitors ages 34 to 42). Some competitions focus on varieties of fighting, known as sparring competitions. Other competitions focus on forms or patterns that students learn during their instruction. Some martial artists compete at a high level in both sparring and forms into their 50s and even beyond.
Some who have reached the age of 40 may hesitate to consider joining a martial arts facility, but it is a great new activity that someone that age or older can enjoy. In most instances, a person can earn a black belt in three to five years, giving the student a goal to keep in mind for a long period of time. It is worth the experience.