This question often comes up in emails I receive and phone calls from adults who are interested in getting into the Martial Arts.
People often associate Martial Arts – such as Karate, kung fu, and jiu-jitsu – with activities for young adults and kids, but that’s really not the case. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching many adults from different age groups the art of Hapkido. My students range from college ages in their early 20s looking for an activity or a way to work out to busy executives in their 30s & 40s looking for stress release or a way to stay fit, all the way to students in their 70s looking to stay fit!
This Black Belt Started Training at 65 Years Old
For Martial Arts, it really doesn’t matter what your age is. I’ve even had several students begin their training in Hapkido in the late 50s and into their 60s. My oldest student, Dr. John, started classes with me as a white belt when he was just 65 and he’s still currently training with me today at the age of 76. He does everything our younger students do in every class.
John was always interested in martial arts growing up and as a college student he took some jujitsu classes and loved it. Unfortunately, as he progressed into medical school, life got in the way and it was just too hard for him to continue training. As he progressed in his career throughout his life, he often thought of continuing his training but never seemed to have the time to do it.
After he retired, he walked into my Dojang with the same question, “Am I too old to start?”
My answer was, “Absolutely not, there’s no better time than now!”
Now, Dr. John wasn’t able to do things right away as quickly as, say, a student in his early 20s could. But with determination and perseverance, he was able to do everything they were able to do. Check out this video where I interviewed Dr. John about his journey in the Martial Arts and starting at an older age.
Dr. John’s Experience Taking Hapkido Classes As A Mature Adult
Master Brian: “Welcome to the Master’s Link. This is your master, Master Brian McCann. We’re located at Inner Power Martial Arts. Anyway, I’m interviewing Dr. John, one of my students. Please introduce yourself.”
Dr. John: “My name is John Marino. I’m an Emergency medical doctor. I’ve been with Master Brian’s Academy here for about four and a half years.” martial arts is for people of all ages in Howell New Jersey Master Brian: “Wow! Dr. John, How old were you when I started training?”
Dr. John: “I was 65 years old when I first started and I just turned 70.”
Master Brian: “Wow. You just got a black belt?”
Dr. John: “Yes, I have a black belt. It took me a little bit less than four years to get from white to black.”
Master Brian: “You were really dedicated. How often did you come to class?”
Dr. John: “Well, I only work part-time so I probably was able to come to class more often than most other people. Three, four, sometimes five times a week.”
Master Brian: “What would you say was the biggest obstacle starting martial arts when you were coming in for the first time?”
Dr. John: “I think what I did was that I came in and I observed the class. And my intention was “Let me see what these guys are doing and what this is all about.” And after I observed what was going on in the warm-up exercises, I said, “Yeah, I think that I’d be able to do that.” Otherwise, my only training exercise was riding my bike and I still do that I’m an avid bike rider I ride 10 miles a day on my mountain bike.”
Master Brian: “That’s awesome. Now I remember you when you first came in, you know, for those of you that do martial arts like judo, Aikido, Hapkido, some forms of grappling arts grappling arts, we do rolls – rolling exercises. How did you do with that?”
Dr. John: “Well, when we first started to do the rolls the first couple of times, it was not easy. I got a little dizzy. I it was the same experience that I would have gotten if I was on a rollercoaster ride where you went around pretty fast. But then after a while, my brain became acclimated to it. I actually did quite well. So much so that now I could go on amusement rides that used to make me dizzy and I have now I have no problem. So that was a benefit of doing the role that helped me. I remember going on the Aerosmith ride at Disney World and I didn’t get dizzy.”
Master Brian: “That’s cool. You spent a lot of time on the mat, on the side and we work with you. We got you through that.”
Dr. John: “Right I think that everyone here has been very, very friendly. Very helpful and very accommodating. Every time that I came I didn’t I didn’t have any obstacles as far as my training was concerned. Everybody has been quite helpful.”
Master Brian: “Now, being a medical doctor, what do you think are the benefits of training martial arts?“
older people become a fall risk without balance training
Dr. John: “I think there are some very positive benefits including muscle strength, balance, and coordination. I think that when you take martial arts, the warm-up exercises and the drills that we do help you maintain your balance, help you with your coordination, and help you build strength. And that’s very important to people they get on in years because you’re a fall risk when you get older because you don’t have balance training.
People like championship ice skaters know how to negotiate slippery surfaces because they have their balance perfected. Okay, it’s not magic and so it’s the same with the rest of us. If you come in and you practice enough, it improves your balance, your coordination, and your strength.”
Master Brian: “So the break falling that we do in class can also help if you were to slip on the ice or something like that.”
Dr. John: “Exactly. That’s right. I mean, of course, you can just fall because you’re plain clumsy but yes, knowing how to fall properly, might minimize your injury.”
Master Brian: “Wow, that’s that’s really, really interesting. What about cardiovascular health?“
Dr. John: “I think that my blood pressure has come down quite a bit and I feel that my endurance and toleration for exercise is improved considerably.”
Master Brian: “And you don’t think that age is a barrier for someone starting Martial Arts Classes?”
Dr. John: “I think the only barrier that you have is within your own head. And what I like to point out is that people that come here from all walks of life, but one thing that everyone has is motivation, they have determination and they have perseverance. If they’re, if they’re willing to persevere, and if they’re willing to accommodate what’s necessary to advance – they’ll do well.”
Master Brian: “You say it good, Doc! Something that I want to ask about is that we often talk about self defense situations and you said something to me that really got me, it was that wherever the mind hasn’t gone, the body can’t go.”
Dr. John: “Your body cannot go with a mind has not been. In other words, you have to have the proper mindset. You know, in all kinds of situations that might be encountered in life and, you know, if you’re studying martial arts, you need to say to yourself, “What would I do if I was outside and I was attacked? Am I going to run? Am I going to try to talk my way out? Am I going to fight? You need to iron out these things before they happen. Not after they happen because you won’t have enough time.”