40 years old taking his first courses and having bits of difficulties

Hanks

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Hey. I see that I'm obviously not the only one starting his first martial art here at this kind of age.
I'm looking for some advice.

My sports background is close to zero, and I have a big lack of flexibility.

The average age in the club is fairly low, partially because the location is just next to a high school. There are way more females than males too. I like it so far, but seeing all these people already having taekwondo or other martial arts background (the classes also mixes beginner with up to black belts) and being very flexible takes a toll on motivation and self-esteem.

I also have a few troubles that lay in the autism spectrum without being autistic. Discovering the place and all these people was an extremely difficult experience, but I carried on and tried my first lesson last week. I wore earplugs for the first course to isolate myself from too much sensorial stimulation, and removed them mid-class because I was feeling alright, but I might use them at other times.

I took my third class this afternoon and it was more frustrating than the first two times. I felt a bit overwhelmed by kicks and moves exercises that I couldn't totally grasp even after asking the coach (I should add that's an inclusive sports club that trains people having various handicaps, they have the proper tools and qualifications) because I need to have very precise directives, but I also had further trouble concentrating at this time because my attempts weren't successful. My mind was struggling at keeping my attention and memory rights and I also had a bit of panic. I felt a bit too close to giving up and I didn't like that at all. I also have difficulties understanding when the coaches or my partner talk because of the ambient noise as it's hard to discriminate the voices from other sounds as well as being overwhelmed by other stimuli.

The feeling of doing the exercises wrong didn't feel right and I also had the (probably erroneous) sensation that it could have bothered my partner during my last course (a young woman with 2 years of boxing experience).

I'm still motivated nonetheless because my mind and body needed a sport, and I'll ask the coaches if they can describe a bit better the movements parts.

The people in the sports club are very nice.

Since I know my probably biggest physical challenge (besides my challenging brain) is my flexibility, I'd like to know if you have some interesting exercises I could easily do at home, for example, to slowly increase my legs spread, or if you know short and straightforward videos that explain very basic moves so I can train between courses.

I know that if I keep motivated, I'll invest more of my person in the club. This club partially relies on volunteering and they're always welcoming bits of help of any kind. I'd like to be part of that one day.

Thanks for reading.
 

Earl Weiss

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1. For those who have not ben active for a while I recommend the 50% rule. Whatever you think you can do, do it with 50% intensity an see how you feel the next day. If you feel OK, increase by 10% each workout. The worst thing to do is strain something that stops your training for weeks or longer.

2. Stretch 6 days a week. Repeat each stretch 3 times and hold each stretch for 30 seconds. There is not enough class time for this. Do it after a short warm up at home before you turn in for the night. You will experience some soreness and the day off is for full recovery.

3. It is normal to mess up. If anyone could do well right off the bat then it would be no big deal. Only compare yourself to - yourself.
 

skribs

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The feeling of doing the exercises wrong didn't feel right and I also had the (probably erroneous) sensation that it could have bothered my partner during my last course (a young woman with 2 years of boxing experience).
Everyone in the dojang was brand new at some point, and everyone in the dojang has made some mistakes. Part of Taekwondo is the leadership skills to help those who are less experienced to succeed.

As with what @Earl Weiss said, don't overdo it. Remember you're not a teenager anymore. Remember that this is new to you and you need to ease into it. Remember that it's not important to be super hardcore and show how tough you are, it's more important that you show up as much as you can. Showing up as much as you can means NOT injuring yourself.

That can also mean sitting out of parts of class that are going to hurt. For example, people with back injuries often sat out of jumping kicks portion. Recently, I've switched over to BJJ. One of our guys was having trouble with recovery after class. The instructor recommended he come 5 days a week, but just skips out on the live rolling (sparring) until he can handle it. He's also worked on lessening his intensity so he's not wasting energy. (Meanwhile the advice he's given me is to be more aggressive).

Taekwondo and arts like it are very good for people who are mildly on the autistic spectrum. You get structure. You get forms that you can practice at home, which are a great repetitive task to focus energy into. You are exposed to noise, but it's also predictable, so it's something you can get used to. When everyone is doing the same thing, there's a lot going on, but it's also not chaotic. However, it may take a little bit to get used to.

I hope this thread helps. If not, have you considered talking to someone a little bit more professional at dealing with the mind? A therapist might just be the emotional push you need to feel more confident in class.
 

Jimmythebull

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my advice is look at an art such as Wing Tsun or Escrima. Starting an art like TaeKwonDo with your background is not in my opinion the right move. find something more suitible for your body. Sure people will tell you you can do it & be succesful but be realistic & honest to yourself.
 

tkdroamer

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Hey. I see that I'm obviously not the only one starting his first martial art here at this kind of age.
I'm looking for some advice.

My sports background is close to zero, and I have a big lack of flexibility.

The average age in the club is fairly low, partially because the location is just next to a high school. There are way more females than males too. I like it so far, but seeing all these people already having taekwondo or other martial arts background (the classes also mixes beginner with up to black belts) and being very flexible takes a toll on motivation and self-esteem.

I also have a few troubles that lay in the autism spectrum without being autistic. Discovering the place and all these people was an extremely difficult experience, but I carried on and tried my first lesson last week. I wore earplugs for the first course to isolate myself from too much sensorial stimulation, and removed them mid-class because I was feeling alright, but I might use them at other times.

I took my third class this afternoon and it was more frustrating than the first two times. I felt a bit overwhelmed by kicks and moves exercises that I couldn't totally grasp even after asking the coach (I should add that's an inclusive sports club that trains people having various handicaps, they have the proper tools and qualifications) because I need to have very precise directives, but I also had further trouble concentrating at this time because my attempts weren't successful. My mind was struggling at keeping my attention and memory rights and I also had a bit of panic. I felt a bit too close to giving up and I didn't like that at all. I also have difficulties understanding when the coaches or my partner talk because of the ambient noise as it's hard to discriminate the voices from other sounds as well as being overwhelmed by other stimuli.

The feeling of doing the exercises wrong didn't feel right and I also had the (probably erroneous) sensation that it could have bothered my partner during my last course (a young woman with 2 years of boxing experience).

I'm still motivated nonetheless because my mind and body needed a sport, and I'll ask the coaches if they can describe a bit better the movements parts.

The people in the sports club are very nice.

Since I know my probably biggest physical challenge (besides my challenging brain) is my flexibility, I'd like to know if you have some interesting exercises I could easily do at home, for example, to slowly increase my legs spread, or if you know short and straightforward videos that explain very basic moves so I can train between courses.

I know that if I keep motivated, I'll invest more of my person in the club. This club partially relies on volunteering and they're always welcoming bits of help of any kind. I'd like to be part of that one day.

Thanks for reading.
Kudos for starting TKD. It is great at any age so try and not let that be a hinderance. The number one thing to remember is to focus on your training, and not get too caught up in what everyone else is doing. Watch and learn? Yes, absolutely. Compare and judge yourself? Absolutely not.
I have trained a surprisingly high number of people who scored on the autism scale that I honestly could not tell anything different about. Almost everyone has the jitters and is self-conscious early on. I treat them the same, and if they need to adjust, (such as ear plugs) no worries. I just roll with it. Without exception, the augmentation is dropped at some point. Usually, it is slow and subtle as they get adjusted to the environment and gain self-confidence. No fanfare necessary. Much of it is about transference of emotion and focusing on the topic.
Talk to your instructor and see if your school has a website that covers stretches or a written set to follow. If not, Youtube has many good stretching videos to follow.
Keep motivated. That is the number one thing to remember. It will get hard, and you will get down at times. We all do. Just keep grinding on those days and it will pass.
 

Holmejr

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Be patient with yourself. Your are not in a sprint, your are in a marathon. Your movements and flexibility will increase with time and smart practice. Dont worry about youth doing flying spinning wheel kicks! MA is for a lifetime. Im 67 and train hard but realistically. I dont do flying spinning anything
 

skribs

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my advice is look at an art such as Wing Tsun or Escrima. Starting an art like TaeKwonDo with your background is not in my opinion the right move. find something more suitible for your body. Sure people will tell you you can do it & be succesful but be realistic & honest to yourself.
Taekwondo is suitable to all ages and body types. There are no prerequisites for fitness or flexibility before joining Taekwondo.

What you've done is take someone who's already doubting himself and added to it. Shame on you.
 

Jimmythebull

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What you've done is take someone who's already doubting himself and added to it. Shame on you.
no i am being realistic. read his post again. listen there is no need to torture himself trying to stretch daily & probably in my opinion injure himself. Is it not sensible to find a system more suited to his needs? I have nothing against the Korean systems but high kicks are again in my opinion not suitible for him.
I see no point in training in any system if you can織t achieve a decent standard, at least average. Probably kicking a dwarf is not what the founder of they system wanted.
sometimes common sense is needed. Sure he might get other benefits from the training like "spirituel" but in his own mind he will never be what he wants to be.
 

skribs

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no i am being realistic. read his post again. listen there is no need to torture himself trying to stretch daily & probably in my opinion injure himself. Is it not sensible to find a system more suited to his needs? I have nothing against the Korean systems but high kicks are again in my opinion not suitible for him.
I see no point in training in any system if you can織t achieve a decent standard, at least average. Probably kicking a dwarf is not what the founder of they system wanted.
sometimes common sense is needed. Sure he might get other benefits from the training like "spirituel" but in his own mind he will never be what he wants to be.
I had plenty of students that couldn't kick above their waist when they started, and they were able to get high kicks in a few years. Students older than him.

" listen there is no need to torture himself trying to stretch daily"

That isn't torture. That's exercise. An exercise you do to be more flexible, which helps a lot more than just being able to kick high. This would be like telling someone not to do pushups or situps or any other sort of exercise.

As someone who spent 8 years teaching people of all ages of Taekwondo, your advice is not helpful. It is realistic that if he works at it, he can achieve some level of success. Every person I've seen who started in the same state as OP has achieved a decent standard, so long as they've kept at it for a few years.

@Hanks , don't listen to this guy. He's just a troll.
 

Holmejr

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no i am being realistic. read his post again. listen there is no need to torture himself trying to stretch daily & probably in my opinion injure himself. Is it not sensible to find a system more suited to his needs? I have nothing against the Korean systems but high kicks are again in my opinion not suitible for him.
I see no point in training in any system if you can織t achieve a decent standard, at least average. Probably kicking a dwarf is not what the founder of they system wanted.
sometimes common sense is needed. Sure he might get other benefits from the training like "spirituel" but in his own mind he will never be what he wants to be.
When I was in TKD, we had many new students join in their 40 50s that couldnt kick above their own knee level. Their posturing was terrible. After a year of smart practice they were literally a whole new person. Chest out and confident. No, they werent doing flying kicks, but the transformation was admirable.
 
OP
H

Hanks

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Thank you very much for all your messages. It's heartwarming to be welcomed like this with extensive advice.

@Jimmythebull, thanks for your honesty. I'll add a bit more of my background in my message.

To say that I've got a near-zero sports background was an oversimplification. I tried to keep my message short and straight to the point, but that was a bit misleading.
I did not do sports for 15-20 years, but during the last years, I did bouldering for 3 years quite intensively before a finger injury prevented me to do this amazing sport ever again. I then began going to the gym to keep/improve my fitness but after 6 months Covid made all the clubs shut down. Since then, I have done no sports for a few years besides riding a unicycle daily as a means of transport.

While I'm far from fit (my thighs are OK though!), I don't feel particularly exhausted at the end of, or the days after the Taekwondo courses, which is also a thing that motivates me to practice at home.
Physically speaking, I don't feel I struggle much more than the other students. I'm even doing better than some of the younger ones. It's more of the technical aspects of the moves we learn (and, of course, flexibility) that cause me a bit of frustration and anxiety, that lead to a loss of focus and concentration.

Yesterday, after going home when the course was finished, I did stretching exercises for 10 minutes.

@Earl Weiss and @skribs, you're right about not pushing more than necessary. I often fail at this. I want to do things to the max but I acknowledge that's not the way to go and that it's likely to impede my progress.

I've seen a lot of mental health professionals in my life without any real benefits. I also read that my country lacks a bit of skill/knowledge in mental health (as a broader definition, sort of say). So, while I'm still pursuing some medical help over the years, I tend to rely on my own self-knowledge to manage various situations (like using earplugs if the background is noisy -I'm not talking about the noise volume-, or closing my eyes when someone talks to me to be able to focus more on the sound of the voice).

@tkdroamer, you're right. I think I'm a bit too much prone to compare to my peers during the courses. What bothers me the most isn't doing the movements wrong regarding other people, but that doing the movements wrong will hinder my progression and lead me to bad habits.
But reading your message, I suppose this is a false problem. The coaches do their job, and even if there are a bit too many students, they'll go towards the ones that seem to struggle to help them, show again how to execute a move, etc.
I need to learn to focus more on myself and don't be afraid of doing things wrong, because I'll do them right at some point.

Thanks again guys.

---

edit: some new messages were posted while I was writing mine, sorry if I didn't reply to all, I'll be back later to read and reply to all of this.
 

skribs

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neither you nor "i" know his real fitness levels. This is an internet forum so we are giving opinions.
Any fitness level can be improved with effort.

You assumed he couldn't do it and told him not to. You assumed what his fitness level was and then gave him the worst possible advice of "don't even try".

Everyone else is giving advice that is irrespective of his fitness level - how to figure out how much you can handle, and do that much, so that you can improve. This is advice that will work if he's anywhere on the fitness spectrum.

please stick to the rules of the forum. "respect"
You've shown 0 respect since you got on this forum. Why are you casting stones on this one?
 

Jimmythebull

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Any fitness level can be improved with effort.
to a point maybe. but be realistic...age..etc
"don't even try".
not true..spinning it my friend. I am telling him my opinion, being realistic.


Everyone else is giving advice that is irrespective of his fitness level - how to figure out how much you can handle, and do that much, so that you can improve.
when you use "everyone else" you are seeking approval of your opinions. I saw most other opinions as neutral. encouraging but leaving it at just their opinions, ultimately he must himself decide
 

skribs

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to a point maybe. but be realistic...age..etc
I've had people start in their 60s and improve their flexibility. You are the one being unrealistic by saying he can't do it in his 40s.
not true..spinning it my friend. I am telling him my opinion, being realistic.
This was your first post in the thread:
"my advice is look at an art such as Wing Tsun or Escrima. Starting an art like TaeKwonDo with your background is not in my opinion the right move. find something more suitible for your body. Sure people will tell you you can do it & be succesful but be realistic & honest to yourself."

This was your second:
"no i am being realistic. read his post again. listen there is no need to torture himself trying to stretch daily & probably in my opinion injure himself. Is it not sensible to find a system more suited to his needs? I have nothing against the Korean systems but high kicks are again in my opinion not suitible for him.
I see no point in training in any system if you can織t achieve a decent standard, at least average. Probably kicking a dwarf is not what the founder of they system wanted.
sometimes common sense is needed. Sure he might get other benefits from the training like "spirituel" but in his own mind he will never be what he wants to be."


Quit gaslighting me. You didn't use the words "don't even try", but that was your message. Your message is that it is unrealistic that he will ever be good at TKD, and so he shouldn't bother. If that is your opinion, then stand by it. It's not me spinning it. You told him not to do it, that it's unrealistic he will succeed.
when you use "everyone else" you are seeking approval of your opinions. I saw most other opinions as neutral. encouraging but leaving it at just their opinions, ultimately he must himself decide
No, it's based on reading the thread. Earl Weiss gave advice on how to improve and how to find the right level of intensity. I gave advice based on my experiences with students in his situation (older and a little unconfident because of it) on how to set the right goals and stay motivated to succeed. HomeJr gave advice as an older person and who has seen other older folks (even older than OP) succeed.

Even OP came back into the thread and admitted he was being too hard on himself and that he is capable of handling the training.

You're the only one telling him he can't do it. Once again, you're gaslighting me. You're trying to make me feel like I'm the only one who thinks the way I do. But literally everyone else in the thread has given him advice or encouragement based on their experiences. This is not my opinion. It's a plain fact of the thread.

My stake in this thread is not to win an argument. It's to help someone who's asked for it (OP) and make sure they aren't put in a worse spot because some troll finds it funny to tell them it's "unrealistic" to succeed.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Hi Hanks! Welcome to the forum and congratulations on starting your study of a martial art. You've gotten some good advice so far, but I'll add a few things ...

First off, your feelings of being overwhelmed, of not grasping all the exercises, of not getting things right, etc are all perfectly normal. Neurotypical or not, everybody goes through this as a beginner. You will not get the movements right at first. But you can make your best attempt at approximating them and over time your approximation will become more and more close to the ideal correct technique. You won't understand the underlying concepts and principles behind the exercises at first, but over time they will make more and more sense.

As far as improving flexibility, there are a ton of videos on YouTube and books with stretching exercises. However there are some important principles which often don't get mentioned, which I will outline below.
  • Warm up before stretching. This means physical activity which gets your blood flowing and increases the temperature in your muscles. Yoga classes often begin with a sequence called the sun salutation for this purpose, which I find works well. (You can find plenty of videos showing the sun salutation on YouTube, just don't try to match the range of motion demonstrated by the experienced yoginis, go only as far into each position as you can handle.) Other options can be squats, lunges, or even just a good walk.
  • Contrary to what Jimmythebull suggests above, stretching should not feel like torture. If your stretching causes pain, it is actually counter-productive and will slow down your progress. If you are doing static stretches, go just to the point where you feel resistance and possibly a tiny bit of discomfort (but not pain). Then hold the position and focus on taking slow, deep breathes and relaxing. After a while, you'll probably feel the resistance dissipate, and you can go a little bit deeper. If you are doing active stretches (like leg swings), go just through your full range of comfortable motion and then as you warm up, see if you can find the edge of that range and go just to that point. Over time, the range will gradually increase.
  • Consistency is king. Doing a comfortable stretching routine that very slightly pushes your limits for 15 minutes a day every day beats a grueling hour long session twice a week.
  • Often the limiting factor for kicking higher isn't so much flexibility as it is technique and strength in the muscles which lift and control the leg while you are kicking. So if you practice slow motion kicks at whatever height you can manage (even if it's only knee height), you'll find that it will end up improving your ability to kick higher over time.
  • Our bodies vary from day to day based on a number of factors. For this reason, you will find that on some days you are able to stretch further than on others. Work with the flexibility you have each day. Don't injure yourself by forcing yourself to go further into a stretch today than your body is ready to manage, just because you were able to get that far last week. Also don't get discouraged and think that you are going backwards. Day to day fluctuation is normal, but over time your baseline will improve if you train consistently and intelligently.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy your martial arts journey.
 

skribs

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again please accept other opinions. you might not like my opinions on the subject but please be civil.
Your opinion is that it is unrealistic for him to succeed. I gladly reject that opinion, and feel no guilt in doing so. The opinion that people can't succeed in Taekwondo and should just give up has no business on a Taekwondo forum.
 
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