Martial Arts for Old Guys

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Ever since my highschool days I've wanted to take martial arts classes but I never had either the time or money. Now, at age 30, I'm finally in a position where I have enough of both to take a class a couple days a week should I choose. Naturally I've now run into an issue. At least it's an issue for me.

First off, apparently the area I live in isn't exactly diverse in the types of martial arts offered. I'd say easily 95% of the places I found taught Taekwondo... which I'm not interested in. I respect it as a form and all that jazz, it's just not my cup of tea.

I've now narrowed things down to two places, one that teaches aikido and another that offers "blue dragon" kung fu. I have a feeling the kung fu place wouldn't be for me just because I think the head guy's a bit of a nutjob and I'd like to think that having at least some respect for the "master" would be helpful. I also found a couple other places that offered brazillian jujitsu and yoshekai karate but since I'm not looking to be beaten to a bloody pulp or have all my bones dislocated in every training session I passed on those places.

But the thing that kinda' bothers me is that when I observed the classes at the two places I'm considering it seemed that almost all of the students were young un's. I mean really young un's. I just have a feeling that it would be a bit awkward for me to start taking these classes as a 30 year old when the "old man" of the group is maybe 18. Has anyone else tried taking up a martial art around my age or older? Is it really that big of a deal? Are there any alternatives? Gimme' some input.

Nah, some of us here do Muay Thai (Boxing + Kick Boxing) and we have many 30+ members in our class (I believe most people are mid twenties and later). I'm 28, but I am also in sh*t shape. Muay Thai is a good martial art to learn. It's one of the meanest stand up arts out there, which makes it good for "real" scenarios, if need be. Any form of Judo, Stand-up or Brazillian Jujitsu is going to be very painful, no matter what the age, but post 25 it takes longer and longer for that "special jujitsu pain" to fade.

I would pick a real stand-up art. Certain forms of Karate and Muay Thai are popular for what they offer. Taekwondo is one of those "it's good cardio" but it's not a "useful" art in a real fight. Rule of thumb: if the art's tourneys aren't of the knockdown variety, it's probably more for show than "real" fighting. Again, take Taekwondo - not a knockdown art but a point scoring art. That doesn't make it bad, but you should know the effectiveness and purpose of an art before you invest into it.

Nothing wrong with being in your 30's and in an external style. When I was in my early 20's the kung fu "clique" I hung out with were all in the early 30's and we ended up comprising our school's demo team. Hell, now that I'm actually focused on my fitness training and diet I'm in better shape at 33 than I was at 23. I've moved so my old school is no longer an option but I'm thinking about enrolling at a relatively nearby Wah Lum Kung Fu school. I just hope it's close to a tight-knit "family" as my old school.

Aikido my friend. If you can.

I would second Edwin and go for Aikido. Of course, I've been doing it for a while, so I'm biased.

Also, why do you want to train? Are you looking for a workout? for self-defense? for something "real"? for spiritual development?

I can't speak for the Aikido dojo you're looking at, but I've enjoyed my Aikido training quite a bit. I started at 25, but we have folks regularly start their training at 30+. I wouldn't worry too much about being an outlier agewise, as most dojo communities in my experience care more about your training spirit than how old you are.

I'd recommend going and observing a class at the nearby schools which interest you, and make a choice based on which one you connect most strongly with.

Kehama wrote:

I have a feeling the kung fu place wouldn't be for me just because I think the head guy's a bit of a nutjob and I'd like to think that having at least some respect for the "master" would be helpful.

This is a very good thought. If the chief instructor at a dojo (of any art) strikes you as unbalanced, that should be a large red flag.

I taught kung fu and grappling for a few years and I picked it up at right around 28 or so. You're never too old to start, though it obviously depends on the atmosphere at wherever you wind up. I taught 12 year olds and I taught 60 year olds, men and women.

I miss it now, but I don't have the time anymore :(.

Rex Kwon Do, my friend. Go for it. KIAI!

I'm 42, in average shape, and do Muay Thai about three nights/week. It was a little tough starting out, but it is a far better workout than I have had with other forms. That said, a martial arts class is not the place you should be looking to to get in shape. Work out out of class. Use your class time to learn something.

I prefer Muay Thai because I have a lower tolerance for the whole magical mystical bs that more traditional forms seem to foist on students. That and the fact that Muay Thai and MMA in general have laboratories for testing new techniques that don't rely on religious adherance to tradition makes it the form for me.

Old guy? You are practically barely out of the womb. You should take up something like Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

A recent brand / logo my dad enjoys, that seems appropriate for the thread.

I catch him wearing baseball caps with the logo, particularly those with a fishing motif.

http://www.oldguysrule.com/

Another vote for Aikido. During the time I trained, we had quite a few regulars that were way past 30+.

Way past 60 you mean.

What are you looking to get out of training in a martial art?

Well, I'm already relatively fit. Right now I work out 5 days a week, 3 days of running, and heavy weight training on 4 or 5 days depending on how long I run. So the "getting fit" part of it isn't that much of an issue though I know any martial art is going to work parts of me I probably didn't know I had. As for spiritual development, I've been a practicing buddhist for about 8 years so I've already gotten the spiritual development that most "eastern" martial arts would touch on. So I suppose mainly I'm just wanting to learn something. Help my reflexes, work on balance, coordination, etc. Oh, and of course I'm also a junkie for anything with a clearly defined path of progression. Getting a new rank is kinda' like real-life levelling up. All about that sort of thing.

It sounds like you're perfect for the more 'active' styles like Muay Thai and BJJ. I wouldn't sweat it. Just do what you want.

I do Taekwondo a couple times a week, and my wife has been going to the school I attend for about 4 years now. We have a wide variety of ages, with me around the middle of the demographic range at 28. As far as practical application, it sort of depends on your school. Mine isn't hard core anything. We do some learning in tournament TKD, some traditional form study, and some modern self defense (disarms, throws, street fighting type stuff) that really isn't TKD at all. I attribute this to the fact that my instructor is also a cop, who's other job is training SWAT teams.

Find a school with a good vibe from the students and instructor. They'll probably all let you attend a class for free to try it out. I'd not rule out any form in particular, considering that you don't seem to have many options.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

It sounds like you're perfect for the more 'active' styles like Muay Thai and BJJ. I wouldn't sweat it. Just do what you want.

Well, except for the part about clearly defined path of progression. That says to me he's probably better suited for a system with a belt rank. He's not going to find that in Muay Thai for sure and generally not in the better MMA schools.

As my instructor puts it: Sure we have belts in Muay Thai. They're shiny, hard to attain, and, if you have one, you're a guaranteed ass kicker.

IMAGE(http://nopadon.smugmug.com/photos/186130660-M.jpg)

I'm in a bit of the same boat. There are really only two schools within distance for me, and they are dominated by kids (which is great, both my kids are in Uechi-Ryu Karate, which is a nice disciplined early MA to learn. Personally, I'd love TKD studio (or practically anything else) but at the two local schools, the "adult" classes have a handful of 16-21 year old guys in them, all extremely accomplished and focused. Also great, but I would DEFINITELY be the oldest by about 2 decades. Given the mountain-moving effort it would take to get me there regularly, I basically just leave it hanging as an unattainable dream.

Liquid, the Wah Lum schools I've run into are quality people. I've seen some very good students at tournaments from their schools.

Robear wrote:

Liquid, the Wah Lum schools I've run into are quality people. I've seen some very good students at tournaments from their schools.

One of my reasons is my old Seven Star Mantis school was loosely affiliated with Pui Chan's school. My sifu had studied with him and we learned some Tam Tui forms. Out of the styles I've studied I liked Northern Mantis the most by far, and I'm hoping that while I'm too long out of tong long (ha!) practice that my experience will directly carry over.

I'd recommend a Filipino based art along with the others. Eskrima, Kali, Arnis, or whatever you can find in your area. Something that seems is easy to find also is Ishinryu. Friend of mine just got his black belt in that. He was 31 or 32 back when he started.

I do Sambo and some, did Krav Maga for years before that. Sambo is tough to find a group or instructor, but no one really knows how to deal with Sambo fighters, because they never see it. BJJ and Muy Thai are the big things right now, should be easy to find some instruction in them, and they will get ya into tip top shape quick. Good luck.

MaverickDago wrote:

I do Sambo and some, did Krav Maga for years before that. Sambo is tough to find a group or instructor, but no one really knows how to deal with Sambo fighters, because they never see it. BJJ and Muy Thai are the big things right now, should be easy to find some instruction in them, and they will get ya into tip top shape quick. Good luck.

Whoa. For how long you've been doing Sambo? Were do you train? Myself, I have some very limited exposure from teenage years.

@ Kehama:
I've been doing Taekwondo now for 5 years. I also actually only started at 30 because of lack of time and money that was more or less constant in the preceding years. It find TKD it both tremendously fulfilling as a sport and a martial art. It's very athletic and physical and stresses both aerobic capacity and anaerobic endurance at the same time, as well as flexibility, reflexes and focus, striking surfaces conditioning, lightning-fast sparring that is a log of fun -- everything! In the WTF-affiliated schools (the majority) there are also forms. Some people gripe about having to learn those. I absolutely don't mind. Usually they're being practiced at the end of the class, when you're already dripping with sweat and trembling from exhaustion and gasping for oxygen. If find them a great way to develop mental focus and to slowly cool down.

As the MMA craze sweeps the public mindshare and encroaches on the pro-rassling in terms of pay-per-view events viewership, you'd often hear that TKD is not "real" enough according to one classification of reality or another (typically these involve fighting on a padded floor with a wide spectrum of techniques disallowed from use in favor of allowing others). The answer to that that in modern TKD, a great deal of self-defence curriculum is taught -- either in form of Hoshinsul (mainly stand-up throws, joint manipulation, and disarms), or outright borrowed from Hapkido. This ads a lot of fun and variety.

I'd recommend you to try it for a couple of months.

Kehama, go to the Aikido place and try it. I am a 31 year old practitioner of Aikido.

Trust your instincts. If you don't see reason or feel the power/sense behind the techniques, then don't force yourself into it. If you feel condescension from the instructor, leave.

If you do see that the instructor makes sense to you, go for it.

There are whackjob instructors out there, but there are also ones who actually understand Aikido and see beyond individual techniques. They're the kind of guys who can just tell you to come at them and encourage you to cancel their technique and you will land on your ass even if you can't recognize what they just did.

They're the ones who are capable of eventually pushing you from the plateau of "techniques" into realm of "moving freely". They're the ones that evolve over time as you do.

This thread gives a lot of great advice. I'm 32 and in fairly good shape. I've done Muay Thai in high school and a little again when I was in my early 20's. I actually want something with a little more structure and philosophy attached to it than Muay Thai. I enjoyed it when I was younger but I would like something that involves more than just beating the crap out of something.

I've really been considering getting involved with something here in San Diego. From what I understand there are several very reputable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in the area. Aikido has interested me for a long time too although I don't know anyone who practices around here.

DeepSea wrote:

This thread gives a lot of great advice. I'm 32 and in fairly good shape. I've done Muay Thai in high school and a little again when I was in my early 20's. I actually want something with a little more structure and philosophy attached to it than Muay Thai. I enjoyed it when I was younger but I would like something that involves more than just beating the crap out of something.

I've really been considering getting involved with something here in San Diego. From what I understand there are several very reputable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in the area. Aikido has interested me for a long time too although I don't know anyone who practices around here.

BJJ isn't much more than a "beat the crap out of someone" style either, just on the ground. Look for stand-up Jujitsu arts for something "deeper" (just about all others, i.e., the ones from the Orient).

Shoal07 wrote:

BJJ isn't much more than a "beat the crap out of someone" style either, just on the ground. Look for stand-up Jujitsu arts for something "deeper" (just about all others, i.e., the ones from the Orient).

Huh? I don't quite get your meaning.

While Akido is a better visual fighting style, BJJ is more of a mix of realistic battle tested methods. More fights end up on the ground then a slug fest, unless your Zanerock, if you can throw a lot of punches but don't know how to conduct yourself when your on the pavement, you can't really say you know self defense.

We had some Sambo guys come from Siberia to several Kuoshu competitions back in the early 90's in Baltimore. Interesting style. They were policemen. The one who got furthest was ethnic Siberian and appeared to have no cartilige left in his nose. The reason soon became apparent - he was shorter than the other fighters and so he simply tucked his head, guarded with his forearms and fists, and closed. Upon closing, he'd grapple and dump his opponent. The gimmick was that during closing, he'd get pounded in the face a lot. Never fazed him - he just kept closing.

Eventually, he was taken out by a guy who kicked the heck out of the nerve points in his thighs, kept him moving in a circle and kick kick kick. That forced him to open up and it was over.

Still, I bet he was horrifyingly effective in police work.

MaverickDago wrote:

While Akido is a better visual fighting style, BJJ is more of a mix of realistic battle tested methods. More fights end up on the ground then a slug fest, unless your Zanerock, if you can throw a lot of punches but don't know how to conduct yourself when your on the pavement, you can't really say you know self defense.

It is true that most fights involving BJJ practitioners end on the ground, as that approach helps them submit a person in a competitive environment. However one's chances of being in a fight with a BJJ practitioner in a sterile fenced-off environment are very low, and in reality one should always remain on their feet. Any self-defense instructor with real-world experience will tell you so. My personal experiences confirm this as well. Bullies often come with friends, who may interfere, and most fights I was in (before knowing anything, with other untrained guys) didn't end up on the ground, except for one.

Aikido approach is very practical to me in this respect, because you never get "engaged" with an opponent. Aikido's purpose is to "untangle and move on", which allows for a fluid movement and getting out fast. It does not engage in the goals of completely dominating and submitting the other person - that is a dangerous ego-driven waste of time in the uncertainty of the real world. I've done this, gotten too focused on one person and another guy tackled me from behind and they beat me on the ground together. At least they left me my watch.

Aikido engages enough to fling an attacker into barstool or dump them on the ground in one tick. Then you are on your way. It is sound to me. It's physics are sound to me. It's got a long learning curve, but if your instructor knows what he's doing, then so will you.

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