As an adult, you have the opportunity to do all the things you missed out on as a kid. You can stay up all night eating ice cream, build yourself a go-kart, and go to a theme park whenever you want to. That said, you also have a better perspective on what is and is not a good idea. While that ice cream may leave you feeling bad the next morning, joining a martial arts school has all the perks of an enjoyable childhood activity with none of the downsides like indigestion. It’s a way to get yourself out of the house, build a regular healthy exercise routine, meet new friends, and learn some totally awesome skills. If you’re worried about being too old for martial arts, rest assured you are not alone. There are thousands of adults every year who join something like Karate, Taekwondo, or Aikido well into their fifties. You just have to know how to do it.
Choose the Right School
Not every martial arts school will be right for you. You need to choose the right discipline and then the right facility for your needs. Unless you’re looking for bruises specifically, steer clear of Judo and MMA and stick more with the laid-back environments. If you just want to get into shape in a Martial Arts style, check out a local Aikido dojo, as this art is all about skilled self-defense rather than dealing damage.
Once you know which art you want to learn, check out several schools in the area. Find one that holds adult classes and you like the environment of. Talk to the staff and take note of the emotional ambiance among the students of various ages. Finally, make sure they offer beginner adult classes a time you can attend.
Talk to the Masters
When you think you’ve found the right school, don’t be shy about talking to the masters. Tell them where you stand physically and ask for advice on getting into the martial art without hurting yourself. They will probably appreciate your honesty and willingness to prepare and offer some good advice. The people who teach in each dojo don’t want student injuries any more than you do and will be happy to help you with each new technique both in and out of class if you find the right time to ask them.
Don’t Skip the Stretching and Warmups
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice we can offer. You are not a child anymore and your body is no longer rubbery and easily mended. Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to be stretched out and warmed up before you begin or you’re likely to sprain or strain something soon during a lesson. Go through the full warmup routine and consider coming in early to take a little extra time to stretch before class. Some adult martial artists stretch all day long, even at work, in order to stay limber and prepare for classes much later in the day. After class, don’t forget to ‘warm down’ with more stretches to make sure your new muscle growth is nice and flexible.
Shoes or Tape
Ask if you’re allowed to wear special martial arts shoes and do so if permitted. One of the biggest risks when practicing kicks and tumbling is landing wrong on your toes. Shoes will protect your feet from dislocation and a certain amount of bruising from kicks but they will diminish your ability to spin on the mat freely. If you can’t wear shoes, tape up your toes and possibly your ankles to provide some extra reinforcement and prevent your toes from catching painfully on the mat.
Lose That Extra Weight
Martial arts is the perfect motivation to lose that extra 20 to 100 pounds you’ve been carrying around. Jumps, throws, and even just kicks and punches are harder on the body when you have to lift and land with unnecessary body weight. Use the good feeling you get from your workout to boost your desire for healthy foods. Martial arts studios are great places to get food and healthy lifestyle suggestions from others who have done the same thing a few years earlier. If you want some delicious homemade or local lean meal suggestions, other adults in your dojo should have the clues.
Practice Makes Perfect
Whether you go in once a week or every day, don’t forget to practice at home. Buy tapes and books to learn new moves and a dummy to practice on. If you have children or regularly watch a relative’s or friend’s children, include them in the practice as a fun way to keep everyone active. With plenty of practice, you’ll be working out more often and get skilled more quickly, allowing you to make the most of your class time with the masters.
Expect the Occasional Injury
Martial arts is not safety-guaranteed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single martial artist who has managed to stay uninjured 100% of the time so don’t be surprised at your first injury. Maybe you’ll stumble on the mat, throw your shoulder out with a throw, or simply torque wrong on a particular kick and that’s okay. There will be plenty of support from your dojo and classmates even if you have to spend a few weeks recovering. However, because you can expect to be injured at least once, you have the opportunity to plan for that eventuality and make sure it doesn’t inconvenience the other aspects of your life too much.
An accidental injury insurance policy will make sure that you have extra funds to take care of your martial arts injuries and even take a little time off work to recover when the inevitable eventually occurs. With monthly payments averaging between $7 and $28 a month, you don’t have to let the chance of injury keep you from the fun and healthy experience of learning a martial art. As a responsible adult, you are fully capable of living the dream by doing what you love and planning for potential setbacks well ahead of time.