You’d love to try karate, but you’re holding off, because you feel too old. Or too fat. Or too out of shape. Or too X, Y, or Z.
Whatever the details, you think you don’t fit the minimum criteria to start martial arts.
If you’re honestly concerned that your current age or weight or fitness level makes you completely incapable of even trying martial arts, talk to your healthcare provider. If your doctor gives you medical clearance, you’re good to go!
But chances are it’s not just that. Chances are it’s not that you think a certain age or weight or fitness level makes you completely incapable of practising karate; chances are you’re worried about how good you’ll be at it.
You’re probably worried that you won’t be able to keep up. That you’re not good enough. That at your age or weight or fitness level, you’ll look stupid, make mistakes, and possibly be laughed at.
Full disclosure: when you start something new, you’re gonna suck at it. No matter your age, fitness level or body size. And this is the case when you’re trying anything new, not just karate.
You’re gonna suck, make mistakes, and feel stupid.
And guess what? Every single person at the dojo will know more than you. Even the other white belts, if they’ve been there for even one day longer, will be more experienced than you. You’re at the bottom.
And you will feel completely out of your comfort zone.
As for the physical part, because this is a physical activity you are not accustomed to, you will not be efficient at it to start. So you will feel more tired, more sore, and possibly need more rest and recovery time, than will someone who’s been practising karate for awhile. That’s to be expected.
I started at age 41, but I was in excellent health and quite fit when I started—I was exercising around 2-3 hours per day before trying my first class—but even so, karate was totally new for me. Sure, I was fit, but I wasn’t used to doing movements like this, so I felt sore and tired after class for a long time. My body had to get used to it. And yours will too.
And at my age, I do need to focus more on flexibility and mobility and recovery. But that would be the case with any form of physical activity, not just karate.
You will need to be realistic, and be mindful of any physical limitations. But any karate instructors worth their salt will be willing to work with you on this, and start with where you’re at right now.
One thing I do need to point out, however: if your goal is to become a world champion martial artist, and you’re just thinking of starting now—at an older age, or less-than-ideal weight or fitness level—should you try karate? Maybe not.
If all you want is to be the best of the best, and nothing else will be good enough, but you’re not in peak physical condition, or you’re starting out at my age or older? It’s not impossible, but you will have a much harder time than someone who doesn’t have those limitations.
For me, I’m pretty realistic about it. I’m in my 40s, I have kids, I have priorities other than karate. Being the best of the best doesn’t drive me at all. I love competing, I get such a rush doing it, but it’s really about that, the emotional ride. I don’t need to be a world champion. I just want to do the karate. That’s it. So I’m okay with my limitations.
So, if you’re not bent on being better than everyone else, if you’re okay with respecting your body’s limitations, if you’re willing to prioritize listening to your body over your ego, then yes: you should try karate right now.
And if you’re worried about being judged by the other members of the dojo, think of this: you’re trying an activity that they love. These people will probably end up being your biggest allies.
And they will definitely remember what it was like being a beginner: feeling stupid and nervous and uncomfortable in an unfamiliar environment, trying something they’ve never tried before.
The other students will help you, and will have your back.
But truthfully? Some of them might end up being dicks. But if that’s the case? Once you’re good enough, you can just punch them in the face.
What’s your excuse for not trying karate? Feel free to comment below. 😉
Here are some great books to help you improve your habits, focus, and mental game:
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