Starting Martial Arts After 50

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
Greetings, martial arts practitioners.

Here is my story.

35 years ago, I walked into Yi's Tang Soo Do in Cherry Hill NJ as a chubby 14 year old. I eventually reached the rank of Cho Dan Bo. I ultimately left because I was headed to college, and I no longer had the time to train, and after college, became involved in other activities. Until recently, I hadn't really given martial arts much thought, but I am seriously thinking about getting back into it, before age and decay make it too late.

I have become bored with my gym routine recently and was thinking about trying martial arts again. I hope to lose some weight and regain some of the flexibility I have lost due to age and gaining weight. While I appreciate the self defense aspect of martial arts, it is less important to me at this stage of life to be able to kick someone's butt (hence I don't want to do MMA), than it is to be physically strong, and mentally sharp. And I hope to find a physical activity to compliment my favorite form of exercise, which is riding my bicycle. Now, I am 52 years old, and probably weigh 80 lbs more than I did back when I studied Tang Soo Do. And I know I lack the flexibility I once had, both due to age, and weight gain.

As for general health, I go for regular checkups and while I have some minor injuries, like a bad rotator cuff, I don't have any injuries that would preclude me from trying martial arts again. I have some aerobic fitness because I do ride my bicycle regularly from the Spring through the Fall at least 3 days a week for an hour or more. And it has helped with aerobic fitness and mental well being as there is nothing so nice as a 2 or 3 hour bike ride on a warm summer day. But after 5 plus years of regular bike riding, my physique is mostly the same. (strong legs, flabby upper body) And while it is great for developing endurance, I know I have lost a lot of quickness, flexibility, and strength. I am also interested in the mental benefits of martial arts. I know remaining active has mental benefits, but I am thinking something like martial arts will work my brain in ways it hasn't been worked in some time.

I did a little research and it looks like there are limited opportunities to practice Tang Soo Do where I live, so I will likely be switching to Tae Kwon Do.

Has anybody else returned to martial arts after a 30 plus year hiatus? Anybody switch from one style to another? Any issues that have come up (other than perhaps instructors who are half your age)?

Thanks much for your time.
 

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
30,775
Reaction score
4,990
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
I am older than you are and I have taken a hiatus or 2, mostly due to injury, but not 30 years. I have also changed styles a few times but have had 2 that were fairly constant. As long as you find a good school and you are patient with yourself and go in with a beginners mind then all will go fine
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
I am older than you are and I have taken a hiatus or 2, mostly due to injury, but not 30 years. I have also changed styles a few times but have had 2 that were fairly constant. As long as you find a good school and you are patient with yourself and go in with a beginners mind then all will go fine
I will try. I found a school nearby and the master seems like a good guy, and I like the fact that he is around my age, and not someone half my age. That said, I recognize that I will have to learn from and respect instructors and students who might be half my age.
 

pdg

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
1,032
I'm younger than you (40 for another couple of months) and I started Taekwon-do almost 2 years ago.

But you could say that I started after almost 39 years away from martial arts ;)

I've heard it's supposed to be fairly rough on knees - after having issues with my right knee for many years it's better than (almost) ever...

One guy in our school is in his mid 60s, started about 4ish years ago and got 1st dan last year.

Basically, I don't think age is very much of an issue if you're relatively sensible with what's physically possible for you.
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
I'm younger than you (40 for another couple of months) and I started Taekwon-do almost 2 years ago.

But you could say that I started after almost 39 years away from martial arts ;)

I've heard it's supposed to be fairly rough on knees - after having issues with my right knee for many years it's better than (almost) ever...

One guy in our school is in his mid 60s, started about 4ish years ago and got 1st dan last year.

Basically, I don't think age is very much of an issue if you're relatively sensible with what's physically possible for you.

I remember what I used to be able to do, and I imagine I will have to adapt my style to the realities of my age and weight. I can't do anything about my age, but I do plan to lose some of this weight. Surprisingly for my weight, my knees are generally OK, so I am hopeful.

One thing I do need to get over is the uniform. When I went to the TKD studio, the master had me put on a uniform, and I think I look ridiculous in the pull over style uniform they use in TKD. Hopefully I can get over this.
 

pdg

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
1,032
One thing I do need to get over is the uniform. When I went to the TKD studio, the master had me put on a uniform, and I think I look ridiculous in the pull over style uniform they use in TKD. Hopefully I can get over this.

Well, what with it being a uniform everyone will look equally silly ;)

We don't use that type of top in ours (ITF) - we have a crossover front with a zip, but we have the pullover type for kickboxing. There's really very little difference once you cinch the sides and get a belt around it.
 

Zyk

White Belt
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
I remember what I used to be able to do, and I imagine I will have to adapt my style to the realities of my age and weight. I can't do anything about my age, but I do plan to lose some of this weight. Surprisingly for my weight, my knees are generally OK, so I am hopeful.

One thing I do need to get over is the uniform. When I went to the TKD studio, the master had me put on a uniform, and I think I look ridiculous in the pull over style uniform they use in TKD. Hopefully I can get over this.

Do you have a KSW school near by? I recently did some trial classes at one near me and there were a lot of older men there. They were all in great shape. In my mind I thought it was like TKD in a lot of ways plus they teach you how to fall, some throws/joint locks, and weapons. Might be worth a look.

Welcome back, just returned after a 26 year break myself.
 

lklawson

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2005
Messages
4,346
Reaction score
1,098
Location
Huber Heights, OH
I did a little research and it looks like there are limited opportunities to practice Tang Soo Do where I live, so I will likely be switching to Tae Kwon Do.
Depending on the <cough> "lineage" of each, you may see little difference.

That said, judging by your personal description and your concerns of health and age, you might be happier with the physical and emotional results of either recreational Judo or Brazilian Jui Jitsu.

Has anybody else returned to martial arts after a 30 plus year hiatus? Anybody switch from one style to another? Any issues that have come up (other than perhaps instructors who are half your age)?
I see it from time to time in Judo. I tell them to just work to their physical capabilities, have fun, and keep learning.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

KenpoMaster805

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 14, 2016
Messages
583
Reaction score
103
Location
Oxnard California
you can go back and joined any Martiial Arts age is no Limit and choose the one you like there is a guy in my karate studio age 52 whose starting again so ya age dont matter you can start
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,362
Reaction score
4,254
Location
Pueblo West, CO
I'm older than you, have taken more than one break, and have trained in more than one art.
You're not going to find TKD all that much different, in practice, to TSD. The forms will likely be different, in that TSD uses the turtle forms, which are not commonly used by TKD schools. But given that the Moo Duk Kwan (the source of TSD) was the largest of the original Kwan involved in the development of TKD, it's not surprising that there's a lot of overlap in the underlying principles.
You don't say where you are, but there are MDK schools all over the US. Depending on the history and lineage of their particular branch of the MDK, these schools may use the pinan, palgwae or taegeuk poomsae for colored belts.
Age of the instructor shouldn't be an issue. I learn from people a fraction of my age all the time.
As for the particular style of the dobak used... meh.... get over it, frankly. It's not a fashion show.
As for your age... forget it. You're just too old.
Kidding.
We recently promoted a woman to 1st Dan. She's 73. She used to bring her grandson to class, and when he lost interest (at 3rd geup, if memory serves) she kept coming. She was 65-ish when she took her first class.
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
I'm older than you, have taken more than one break, and have trained in more than one art.
You're not going to find TKD all that much different, in practice, to TSD. The forms will likely be different, in that TSD uses the turtle forms, which are not commonly used by TKD schools. But given that the Moo Duk Kwan (the source of TSD) was the largest of the original Kwan involved in the development of TKD, it's not surprising that there's a lot of overlap in the underlying principles.
You don't say where you are, but there are MDK schools all over the US. Depending on the history and lineage of their particular branch of the MDK, these schools may use the pinan, palgwae or taegeuk poomsae for colored belts.
Age of the instructor shouldn't be an issue. I learn from people a fraction of my age all the time.
As for the particular style of the dobak used... meh.... get over it, frankly. It's not a fashion show.
As for your age... forget it. You're just too old.
Kidding.
We recently promoted a woman to 1st Dan. She's 73. She used to bring her grandson to class, and when he lost interest (at 3rd geup, if memory serves) she kept coming. She was 65-ish when she took her first class.

Yes, Moo Duk Kwan. But while there are Tang Soo Do schools around the country, and in my native South Jersey, in Wisconsin where I now live, it all seems to be all Tae Kwan Do. And that is fine. I met with a TKD master who I actually met 20 years ago,and he has two schools each of which is less than 10 minutes from my house. We met the other day at his school and he had me do some basic combinations. He explained that after the beginning forms, I would have to learn new forms as TKD and TSD differ in this respect. And that is fine. I actually kind of like the fact the two styles are similar, but yet a little different. It will be a chance to engage the mind as well as the body.

And you are right about getting over feeling ridiculous. If I can wear spandex while riding a bike, I can handle wearing a pullover style Tae Kwon Do uniform.
 

pdg

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
1,032
If I can wear spandex while riding a bike, I can handle wearing a pullover style Tae Kwon Do uniform.

I forgot you said about biking - and there was me about to say "could be worse, you could be in spandex" :D
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
I forgot you said about biking - and there was me about to say "could be worse, you could be in spandex" :D

Don't knock it till you try it. Spandex bike gear is awesome. It feels like a second skin.
 

hoshin1600

Senior Master
Joined
May 16, 2014
Messages
2,946
Reaction score
1,394
And you are right about getting over feeling ridiculous. If I can wear spandex while riding a bike, I can handle wearing a pullover style Tae Kwon Do uniform.

yeah im 50 and i feel right at home in a martial art uniform....i couldnt handle spandex....aint happening. i would be the only guy in the tour de france in jeans.
 

lklawson

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2005
Messages
4,346
Reaction score
1,098
Location
Huber Heights, OH
Don't knock it till you try it. Spandex bike gear is awesome. It feels like a second skin.
While I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of spandex, I specifically prefer certain feminine forms for the display. There are likely few things I'd enjoy less than viewing a 52yo male form in spandex. :yuck:

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 
  • Like
Reactions: pdg

Xue Sheng

All weight is underside
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
30,775
Reaction score
4,990
Location
North American Tectonic Plate
I will try. I found a school nearby and the master seems like a good guy, and I like the fact that he is around my age, and not someone half my age. That said, I recognize that I will have to learn from and respect instructors and students who might be half my age.

Other than the young guys thinking you're an old man (use that to your advantage ;)) there is no age to worry about. Go listen to, and watch the instructor and the senior students and all will be fine.

I have been in martial arts for over 40 years and when I go to a new class, or seminar, even in the style I have done before, I go thinking of myself as a beginner and it works great, I learn lots, and no egos get involved that way.
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
While I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of spandex, I specifically prefer certain feminine forms for the display. There are likely few things I'd enjoy less than viewing a 52yo male form in spandex. :yuck:

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

Well, Kirk, in cycling, the spandex is mostly about function. Ride in the heat in denim and your crotch will feel like a swamp inside of a half hour. Cycling shorts are made to fit like a second skin, with a sewn in chamois to move with you, and wick moisture away from the crotch area. Cycling jerseys are cut to fit close to the body so they don't flap in the wind, and to wick sweat away from the body. When I first started to ride, I resisted the spandex, or I covered it up with some loose shorts over the cycling shorts. But the loose shorts tended to get hot or bunch up, so eventually I just tossed them. I found with the shirts that I just need to avoid certain brands that just ran too small, and to size up a bit so I could breath, which is at least as important in cycling as it is in martial arts.

As far as aesthetics go, after you ride for awhile, you adjust what looks good and bad. For sure, if I see an out of shape old guy wearing full Team Sky pro replica kit riding at 10 mph, that seems odd. But if I see an old guy wearing regular kit (no logos, or a local riding club logo, or something similar) kicking butt on the road, that guy has my respect. And when I ride, I just put on my cycling gear and don't sweat it, literally.

Hoping in time, I will similarly adjust to wearing a dobok.
 
Last edited:

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,362
Reaction score
4,254
Location
Pueblo West, CO
While I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of spandex, I specifically prefer certain feminine forms for the display. There are likely few things I'd enjoy less than viewing a 52yo male form in spandex. :yuck:

There is a functional aspect, I'm sure...
I do a lot of diving. It's nice to be able to remove your wetsuit between dives, or after your last dive. But wearing a conventional swim suit or board shorts under a wetsuit is uncomfortable. Things tend to bunch up. Now, a lot of men deal with this by wearing a banana hammock. Which I personally do not care to do. My solution is to wear compression shorts (which are essentially spandex) under my suit. I keep a pair of board shorts and a T shirt in my dry bag. I can easily pull the wetsuit off and get dressed without offending anyones sensibilities. Because let's face it. Wearing a budgie smuggler on a dive boat really should be a no-no.
I suspect jeans or regular shorts have similar drawbacks when biking.
 
OP
mrt2

mrt2

Brown Belt
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
404
Reaction score
224
There is a functional aspect, I'm sure...
I do a lot of diving. It's nice to be able to remove your wetsuit between dives, or after your last dive. But wearing a conventional swim suit or board shorts under a wetsuit is uncomfortable. Things tend to bunch up. Now, a lot of men deal with this by wearing a banana hammock. Which I personally do not care to do. My solution is to wear compression shorts (which are essentially spandex) under my suit. I keep a pair of board shorts and a T shirt in my dry bag. I can easily pull the wetsuit off and get dressed without offending anyones sensibilities. Because let's face it. Wearing a budgie smuggler on a dive boat really should be a no-no.
I suspect jeans or regular shorts have similar drawbacks when bikin
g.
Yup. Same thing. On club rides, riders will sometimes make a quick change from spandex jersey and shorts to T shirts and shorts after the ride.
 

lklawson

Senior Master
Joined
Feb 3, 2005
Messages
4,346
Reaction score
1,098
Location
Huber Heights, OH
Well, Kirk, in cycling, the spandex is mostly about function. Ride in the heat in denim and your crotch will feel like a swamp inside of a half hour. Cycling shorts are made to fit like a second skin, with a sewn in chamois to move with you, and wick moisture away from the crotch area. Cycling jerseys are cut to fit close to the body so they don't flap in the wind, and to wick sweat away from the body. When I first started to ride, I resisted the spandex, or I covered it up with some loose shorts over the cycling shorts. But the loose shorts tended to get hot or bunch up, so eventually I just tossed them. I found with the shirts that I just need to avoid certain brands that just ran too small, and to size up a bit so I could breath, which is at least as important in cycling as it is in martial arts.

As far as aesthetics go, after you ride for awhile, you adjust what looks good and bad. For sure, if I see an out of shape old guy wearing full Team Sky pro replica kit riding at 10 mph, that seems odd. But if I see an old guy wearing regular kit (no logos, or a local riding club logo, or something similar) kicking butt on the road, that guy has my respect. And when I ride, I just put on my cycling gear and don't sweat it, literally.

Hoping in time, I will similarly adjust to wearing a dobok.
There is a functional aspect, I'm sure...
I do a lot of diving. It's nice to be able to remove your wetsuit between dives, or after your last dive. But wearing a conventional swim suit or board shorts under a wetsuit is uncomfortable. Things tend to bunch up. Now, a lot of men deal with this by wearing a banana hammock. Which I personally do not care to do. My solution is to wear compression shorts (which are essentially spandex) under my suit. I keep a pair of board shorts and a T shirt in my dry bag. I can easily pull the wetsuit off and get dressed without offending anyones sensibilities. Because let's face it. Wearing a budgie smuggler on a dive boat really should be a no-no.
I suspect jeans or regular shorts have similar drawbacks when biking.

I think you guys are missing the point of my post. ;)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Latest Discussions

Top