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

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,188
Reaction score
2,341
When it's time to choose a partner, I usually stare into space until someone comes to me (it never happens someone will if I'm the only available partner), or I go out of the practice room if it's too hard for my brain to manage the situation. There's not much I can do to improve this, unfortunately. It's really, really hard. A burden.
I think the next step for you in this regard is to make eye contact with people while partners are being chosen. In my experience, a lot of choosing a partner is using nonverbal queues. If you're staring into space, you're missing those. It might be that people want to partner with you, but they can't make eye contact with you, and so they look for someone else. Or they're nodding your way, and you don't see it because you're staring into space.

Make eye contact with folks. If they nod, point, beckon, etc., then it probably means they want to partner with you.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,761
Reaction score
5,746
Location
New York
Alas, it's impossible for me.
If you have trouble with non-verbal queues, think about someone that you think you drill/train well with, and ask before you start if they want to partner up for the day. Then you can give them the eye contact you see, without fear of rejection.
 

Balrog

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,761
Reaction score
469
Location
Houston, TX
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.
...snip...
I would suggest working out something with your instructor where you might get a private lesson once a week. Working one-on-one will reduce the background noise and give you a chance to really concentrate on your basics.

Keep your positive attitude! My very first class, way back when, I was learning how to do a high block and wound up punching myself in my own nose. You will learn from your mistakes and become better!!
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
However, the sport tends to hurt my back. I discovered that I had a lower back problem (slight scoliosis, disk space narrowing, tiled pelvis), which explains some pain I have (for a few years) when I move my back in certain ways. It doesn't bother me in my everyday life or during practice, but it may hurt after.

I'll see a physiotherapist and rheumatologist next month to see what to do about that.
I have an MRI in one month.
Honestly, I'm very pessimistic about it. I don't know yet what the cause is. I'm very afraid of having no clear diagnosis or having an issue that couldn't be fixed.
My lower back hurts for days after each training. The pain was here years before, but I never experienced it in my everyday life because it would occur only if I leaned far, back and side.
I think Taekwondo makes my spine bend way more than before, and it increases the pain enough so it hurts in my everyday life.
It doesn't prevent me from doing anything so far. It just hurts. Be it chronic, if the pain wouldn't increase over months/years, I could just accept the pain and continue training. I'm very afraid that it doesn't evolve as I want it to and that it will prevent me from practicing taekwondo in the future. That sucks.
No. It's difficult. It's not impossible.
I read your message weeks ago and wanted to post with a very assertive reply because of the experiences I had my whole life. I'm glad I didn't.
My practice yesterday proved me wrong and proved you right.

I forced myself to talk a bit more with the other students when we were just a few.

I think they know I have some difficulties as I sometimes need to talk to the coach, or he will talk with me somewhat privately to know how I feel. I also needed to leave the training room for a while during practice from time to time, which can't go unnoticed.

I trained with two of them during the last practice and they seemed comfortable having me as a partner. One of them asked me if I would like to train outside with her and some others if they are interested during summer when the club is closed. This girl in particular was very patient when I was training with her when she noticed (I suppose) that I was starting to struggle mentally.

It felt fantastic being accepted as I am.
If you have trouble with non-verbal queues, think about someone that you think you drill/train well with, and ask before you start if they want to partner up for the day. Then you can give them the eye contact you see, without fear of rejection.
I have a good relationship with one of them -the only one I was comfortable talking with- and have asked him exactly this once. He said no problem.
I would suggest working out something with your instructor where you might get a private lesson once a week. Working one-on-one will reduce the background noise and give you a chance to really concentrate on your basics.

Keep your positive attitude! My very first class, way back when, I was learning how to do a high block and wound up punching myself in my own nose. You will learn from your mistakes and become better!!
Thank you for your kind words
I can't get private lessons, because all the coaches are very, very busy. But I think things are evolving in a good direction (see the girl that asked me if I wanted to train outside during summer).

I know I will feel uncomfortable from time to time, but I think it's slowly getting better.

Thank you all for your advice and kindness.

I'm just incredibly afraid and pessimistic about my back pain issue. That's the only thing that holds me back from investing more time and energy in this sport.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,188
Reaction score
2,341
I read your message weeks ago and wanted to post with a very assertive reply because of the experiences I had my whole life. I'm glad I didn't.
My practice yesterday proved me wrong and proved you right.

I forced myself to talk a bit more with the other students when we were just a few.

I think they know I have some difficulties as I sometimes need to talk to the coach, or he will talk with me somewhat privately to know how I feel. I also needed to leave the training room for a while during practice from time to time, which can't go unnoticed.

I trained with two of them during the last practice and they seemed comfortable having me as a partner. One of them asked me if I would like to train outside with her and some others if they are interested during summer when the club is closed. This girl in particular was very patient when I was training with her when she noticed (I suppose) that I was starting to struggle mentally.

It felt fantastic being accepted as I am.
Part of Taekwondo is developing those soft skills that you might be lacking. For folks like you and me, it's the ability to come out of our shell in-person. I'm just a lot further on that journey than you are.

For other folks, it's the patience and discipline to let others come out of their shell.
 

TheTraveleress

White Belt
Joined
May 11, 2023
Messages
14
Reaction score
5
We had a black belt that started in his 60s and actually participated in competitions (he looked much older... not some super healthy well aged person, just a regular old person). Tae Kwon Do is like the running sports, yeah there are a lot of other people running but the real measure of your success is not where you are in relation to those around you, but where you are in relation to yourself yesterday. Everyday working to be better than yesterday... I have been doing this since I was 11 and Im in my 40s. Am I better than 11? yes... no... I have had to restart 3 times from nonTKD related injuries that had lasting physical effects and each time I have to compare myself from where I was when I started with the new challenge. Just keep going. Remember, you are your best and most important competition!
 

Balrog

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
1,761
Reaction score
469
Location
Houston, TX
...snip...

I'm just incredibly afraid and pessimistic about my back pain issue. That's the only thing that holds me back from investing more time and energy in this sport.
I'll strongly suggest that you visit an orthopedic doc that specializes in sports medicine. It'll be worth the visit to find out nothing is seriously wrong, and in the off chance that it is, you caught it early. Get a recommendation from the doc for physical therapy and do a couple of sessions to make sure you are doing the exercises/stretches properly, then continue them at home.

Stretching is critical. Warm up gently, do light stretching, do your workout, then end with 5 minutes of serious stretching as you cool down.
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
Thank you for your message. I exercise and stretch regularly, have 2 physiotherapist appointments a week + related exercises to do each day.
I also have an MRI in two days, then an appointment with a rheumatologist but I also intend to schedule an appointment in a clinic specializing in spine issues to have a 2nd advice (depending on the results of my first appointment, of course; back isn't her specialty).
My fingers are crossed.

Last week, during training, I nailed my best spinning hook kick ever. I was stoked and proud of myself, but almost broke down in tears at the exact same time at the thought of losing all this progress if I ever have to quit this sport.
 

OutcastSix

White Belt
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
8
Reaction score
4
Thank you for your message. I exercise and stretch regularly, have 2 physiotherapist appointments a week + related exercises to do each day.
I also have an MRI in two days, then an appointment with a rheumatologist but I also intend to schedule an appointment in a clinic specializing in spine issues to have a 2nd advice (depending on the results of my first appointment, of course; back isn't her specialty).
My fingers are crossed.

Last week, during training, I nailed my best spinning hook kick ever. I was stoked and proud of myself, but almost broke down in tears at the exact same time at the thought of losing all this progress if I ever have to quit this sport.
Great to hear of your personal improvement to your spin hook kick!!!

Keep up with exercise, stretching and other related therapy stuff. Mobility and core strength exercises are just as important as flexibility especially as we age. I studied martial arts as a child, then competed and taught quite a bit through college. I lapsed with asian martial arts while in the Marine Corps (30+ years) but mentored, coached and taught both of my sons in-between their own formal training. My oldest is a 3rd Dan and competing nationally and collegiately now. Meanwhile my youngest is struggling to drive through to his 1st Dan so I got back in the gym at the rigid and inflexible age of 53 to show him how it's done. I had always been taught to always finish what you start so here I am.
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
For some reason, I had tonight the worst practice since I started.

After 5 minutes, I had some brain freeze -- it usually happens once every one or two weeks, but it's happening more recently, sometimes twice in one training. I couldn't think properly, move or talk for 30 min and then grabbed my stuff and left. For the first time, I even wonder if I'll go to the next practice when I was able to give all I could twice a week for the past several months, since September.

Even the simple step of going to the club has always been an effort, mentally painful, but I never gave up. It's getting more and more difficult.

Brains are weird, and I sometimes wish I hadn't that malfunctioning piece of flesh.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,761
Reaction score
5,746
Location
New York
For some reason, I had tonight the worst practice since I started.

After 5 minutes, I had some brain freeze -- it usually happens once every one or two weeks, but it's happening more recently, sometimes twice in one training. I couldn't think properly, move or talk for 30 min and then grabbed my stuff and left. For the first time, I even wonder if I'll go to the next practice when I was able to give all I could twice a week for the past several months, since September.

Even the simple step of going to the club has always been an effort, mentally painful, but I never gave up. It's getting more and more difficult.

Brains are weird, and I sometimes wish I hadn't that malfunctioning piece of flesh.
This sounds like more than what I'd consider 'some brain freeze'. It sounds like you either had a medical issue you should get checked out, or a very severe panic attack (which you should also get checked out if they're happening often).
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
Thanks for your kind words.
It's more like a panic attack, but different. I've been suffering from this pretty much my whole life. It's weird to feel that I'm still not used to it after decades. There may be a little panic it in, but it's not only this. It's really like my brain shuts closes but is hyperactive at the same time, and I become mute in most severe cases. I don't have short breath or stuff like this. I had panic attacks in the past, this is why I think it's not exactly the same thing, but I'm not a health professional and I guess panic attacks can have many shapes. I don't know much about these things but my own experience.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,761
Reaction score
5,746
Location
New York
Thanks for your kind words.
It's more like a panic attack, but different. I've been suffering from this pretty much my whole life. It's weird to feel that I'm still not used to it after decades. There may be a little panic it in, but it's not only this. It's really like my brain shuts closes but is hyperactive at the same time, and I become mute in most severe cases. I don't have short breath or stuff like this. I had panic attacks in the past, this is why I think it's not exactly the same thing, but I'm not a health professional and I guess panic attacks can have many shapes. I don't know much about these things but my own experience.
What has a doctor and/or therapist/psychiatrist said when you've told them about it?
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
Not much. I've seen health professionals pretty much my whole life since I was 16.
I have no diagnosis whatsoever, just a lot of various symptoms that appear (or not) in a large array of contexts. I have a lot of troubles, and it makes my while life and sports difficult. I prefer to focus on the sport part here, however. :)
 

JowGaWolf

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
13,127
Reaction score
5,319
Not much. I've seen health professionals pretty much my whole life since I was 16.
I have no diagnosis whatsoever, just a lot of various symptoms that appear (or not) in a large array of contexts. I have a lot of troubles, and it makes my while life and sports difficult. I prefer to focus on the sport part here, however. :)
Your answer may not be in modern medicine and xrays and such. Maybe a different type of doctor? I have 2 doctors so when modern medicine can't find out what's going on. I go to my Naturopathic Doctor. Maybe something to look into. Maybe some of your M.Ds can recommend someone.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
11,761
Reaction score
5,746
Location
New York
Not much. I've seen health professionals pretty much my whole life since I was 16.
I have no diagnosis whatsoever, just a lot of various symptoms that appear (or not) in a large array of contexts. I have a lot of troubles, and it makes my while life and sports difficult. I prefer to focus on the sport part here, however. :)
Hey, sorry for the late reply. But unfortunately, I don't think you can focus on just the sport part of this. It's a bigger issue, and the sport is just a symptom. If you really want to train, you will have to find some way to handle it. I would suggest therapy, or following the CMA route or naturopathic route as jowga recommended.

Regarding the sport aspect-Is there anything that can break you out of it? Such as saying your name, touching some trigger point on your body, something like that? If so, let your instructor know what's happening, and how to help. Is there any sign, internal or external, that it is going to happen? Such as a mental block or increase in anxiety (internal), or noticing a muscle cramp (external)?

If so, knowing when it's going to happen is something you can let your partner know beforehand. If not, when it does happen, write down what was physically happening beforehand, and what you were emotionally feeling/cognitively thinking about, to see if a pattern emerges that may help you prevent it. Also write down how long it lasts, and what happened when it stopped to see if there are any ways to break out of it.

Beyond that, I'm sorry but believe you are looking in the wrong area. Even for those of us qualified to help, this is not something we would handle via forum. Even what I wrote so far is more than I'd normally be comfortable doing online.

The final thing I will say is that, if this is something that happens with no warning, and it's almost like a paralysis, I would not train a martial art. If you freeze when someone is punching you, or throwing you and you're supposed to land a certain way, it could mess up the technique and result in even more permanent damage to you. Similarly, if you freeze while throwing someone or doing a submission, it's possible that it would cause them permanent damage.
 
OP
H

Hanks

White Belt
Joined
Sep 27, 2022
Messages
18
Reaction score
15
Hi! Thanks for your reply.
Is there any sign, internal or external, that it is going to happen?

The final thing I will say is that, if this is something that happens with no warning, and it's almost like a paralysis, I would not train a martial art. If you freeze when someone is punching you, or throwing you and you're supposed to land a certain way

I can feel the thing coming from afar, and I know I wouldn't freeze during a fight. I know a bit about the context in which it can happen, and I know it won't put me in danger. I'm very confident there is no issue with this other than my personal struggle, which I may be able to overcome over time if I'm able to continue this sport (cuz back issues). :)

So, that's at least one good thing!

Today, I went to a public demonstration from our club. The organization was very wonky, but I went out of my comfort zone and participated a bit in front of random people without any anxiety. Would the organization have been better, I would totally have jumped into some public sparring without caring even a little bit about the gazes of the public. Alas, we couldn't spar and didn't have much visibility because of the badly organized events.

If I'm still practicing next year, I'll invest myself in helping organize better and will participate as much as I can as well in the public demos.
 
Top