Many people think of martial arts as being only for the young or those who are already exceptionally fit or strong, but there are so many styles to choose from that if you have any interest in learning a discipline that will benefit your mind as well as your body, you owe it to yourself to at least to try a few to see if any of them suit you. Even if you are 50 or older, you can take up a martial art. You have nothing to lose by taking trial classes – most centres offer at least one for free. Here a quick guide to finding a martial art and what you’ll have to gain.
Choosing a style
Many, though not all, of them come with some risk, but a good training process prepares you for it. Some of them focus on contact sparring and training for pain tolerance, such as muay thai and MMA. But such arts are far from your only options. The practice of tai chi offers many styles, both hard and soft, and you can develop surprising power in its movements. Aikido teaches you to use your opponent’s direction and momentum to turn back and terminate an attack; it is noninjurious and graceful. Capoeira, which originated in Brazil, has a lot of spinning kicks but focuses equally on evasive movements.
As you can see, you have options other than “Hulk smash” kicking and striking. Whichever styles you choose to explore, speak with the instructors to get a sense of their attitude. A qualified teacher is not only physically capable – he or she should be welcoming to anyone who wants to learn, regardless of age.
Muscle and bone health
The myriad ways you move in a martial art reach every muscle at some point, and the different types of impact, whether through striking, rolling, or falling, builds bone density. Not every art will be accessible – or desirable – to some older people if they are suffering from joint problems or bone degeneration, so doing your research is key to finding a good fit. Depending on your physical state, you might be able to train a combat style without the actual combat part.
YouTube is filled with training and technique videos for many styles and is a good place to start exploring.
Mental health and patience
The martial arts are nothing if not a practice in patience. Whether learning to properly throw a kick, memorising a long series of movements, or just coordinating your hands and feet, every practitioner will face unique challenges. Maybe you find those spinning kicks easy but you struggle with timing or distance. You will constantly discover new areas of struggle as well as new capabilities within yourself.
Multiple studies reveal that engaging in a learning process is important for brain health as we age, and a martial arts practice will work your mind as well as your body.
Description:Over 50? Yes, you can start practicing a martial art. It will improve your health and help you age well – and you don’t have to aim for MMA stardom to train.