The interests and likes of a person is one thing which never remains constant. It changes with not only the trend and fashion but also with age. As the teenage years are one of the most important yet “prone to mistake” years of every person’s life, coming face to face with the reality of getting old can also prove to be hefty.
It may so happen that one day you decide that you are tired of the monotonous routine that you are leading and hence want to try something completely new.
Just then an advertisement for that famous martial art school in your neighborhood starts running. And you decide – this is something I want to do. I want to learn a new martial art form!
Now, this situation can be tricky. Many questions will come to mind.
Is it safe for me? Should I start something so challenging at this stage of my life?
But, another thought pops in. If not anything, it surely will give me that required exercise regimen. That, coupled with the physical activity, can prove to be very beneficial for health. Now that you are convinced that it is a good idea, you will still want to research every martial art form and find out which will be better suited for an older adult.
So the big question that comes in at this moment is that which martial art an older adult should train in?
Let me help make the decision making process a bit easier for you and list out five martial art forms which are best suited for older adults.
1. Tai Chi / Tai Chi Chuan
The reason why Tai Chi or Tai Chi Chuan is on the top of the list is that this martial art is practised and favored by many older adults. The major advantage of Tai Chi is that people can learn and practise it at any rate that they feel comfortable with. The health benefits of Tai Chi are humongous.
Why Tai Chi?
Tai Chi, often known as Shadow Boxing, is a Chinese martial art which is believed to have originated about 3000 years ago. Characterized by simultaneous attacks and defense, it employs slow and fast contrasting movements. It is replete with trapping and striking styles. All this while, the main focus is on the breathing aspect of things which helps the practitioner stay relaxed even after a full training routine.
The benefits of Tai Chi are well documented and can help relax the muscles and plays the role of a stress buster. It strengthens the muscle of the legs and helps in improving the core strength. This can be very beneficial in enhancing stability and helping in reducing the back pain. At some instances, it has helped in improving the health of terminally ill people with diseases such as cancer, etc. Overall, it boosts the whole immune system.
The downside with Tai Chi is that it is not very widely popular in the west, and hence people miss out on its benefits as they have no idea about its existence. But Tai Chi is a viable alternative for exercise and is fun at the same time.
For someone who just wants to take up a martial art as a way of leading a healthy life, there is nothing better than Tai Chi. All in all, Tai Chi is the perfect martial art for an older adult who is just starting.
Time Frame to Learn Tai Chi
Surprisingly Tai Chi is very contradictory in its learning time stamp. You will be comfortable with the starting moves by practising it for 36 to 60 hours and learn the basics in less than a year depending upon the school you are training in. At the same time, Tai Chi is a lifelong process and everything depends upon the person and their capacity.
Another ideal and great martial art form for older adults is Aikido. Do you have the problem of bad knees and you are worried it will get worse if you start training? Aikido is the perfect thing if you want to build that core muscle strength.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art which is deeply rooted in the styles of daitoryu-(aiki) jujitsu. It dates back to the 14th century, but many people credit Master Ueshiba who is believed to have developed the form that we practise today, in the 19th century. The techniques used in Aikido are mostly very soft and gentle, and Aikido practitioners avoid striking first.
Aikido helps in enhancing flexibility and mobility as well as gaining momentum and precision. Due to the soft styles it employs, there is nothing tough and fast or aggressive about it. Aikido teaches the right way of life and trains not only the body but also the spirit and the mind.
This can be highly beneficial for people from the older age group as it can not only help in keeping them fit but also in preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, which is a common occurrence nowadays. The cerebral aspect of Aikido appeals more to older people.
So is Aikido dangerous for older people to try?
The answer is a stern No. From break fall to defense to physical fitness and finally, to the mind, Aikido helps in training an older person in everything that is important. It is not uncommon for older adults to try and excel in Aikido. Maybe they can finally come face to face with the way of life that they were continually searching for.
Time Frame to Learn Aikido
Learning any form of martial art is not easy. It is imperative that the person dedicates and commits fully and whole-heartedly to the martial art and not just treat it like everything else. Having said that depending upon the school, how many times you train in a week and the master you are training under, Aikido can take upto four-five years to learn.
3. Wing Chun
Wing Chun is that martial art form which once you start learning, you will indeed wonder, “Why did I not take it up years ago?”
Another great martial art on the list for older adults is Wing Chun. It is a form of Kung Fu which is comparatively safer and focuses more on strength and precision. It is a low impact martial art which is pretty easy on the knees. Even though it actively uses kicks, there is no jumping involved whatsoever, and this is a huge plus.
Why Wing Chun?
Wing Chun is a Chinese martial art and was developed in Southern China around 300 years ago. Nun Ng Mui, the master of Kung Fu, is credited as the founder of Wing Chun. He used his training and skills of Kung Fu and formulated a completely different style called Wing Chun. The technique that Wing Chun practitioners mostly employ is low kick and open hand strikes.
Now the question that often arises in the case of Wing Chun is: “Is it very rigorous and tough?” The answer is again, straightforward – No. It is never too late or too old to start learning Wing Chun. There is not much aerobatics involved, and the kicks are also meagre impact which will help in building greater muscle mass.
The focus is more on posture and precision rather than raw power. The training of efficiency, reflexes and agility can prove highly beneficial to ageing adults. If appropriately trained, Wing Chun has many benefits, including mobility, flexibility, core strength and very little stress.
Time Frame to Learn Wing Chun
The average time taken to learn Wing Chun is five years. Although it boils down to how much time the practitioner spends at his dojo or home training and how many classes he takes in a week. Having said that, Wing Chun is another excellent martial art for older adults.
4. Krav Maga
Hold on; I know what you are thinking…Krav Maga is very aggressive.
But that is not the case! It is a general misconception around Krav Maga that is a very aggressive martial art form owing to its philosophy. Krav Maga does not talk about going and killing someone without any reason. What Krav Maga believes in is that one should defend oneself using any means possible if caught up in an uncomfortable situation. Therefore, it trains its practitioners on the same lines.
Why Krav Maga?
Imi Lichtenfeld developed Krav Maga as a means of self-defense in street fights. It is a unique blend of Karate, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Judo. The method was adopted by the Israeli security forces to train their soldiers in unarmed self-defense. Krav Maga focuses on quickly finishing the fight by dealing enough damage to the aggressor.
This is not a very stressful or high energy martial art. Krav Maga does involve kicking and striking but it is not exclusive to that and other strenuous activity only. The main aim is to learn defense mechanisms in a very efficient way.
Since Krav Maga borrows its techniques from various martial art forms, it is effortless on the body. The training routine is very comfortable for older adults as it builds stamina and strength at the same time. These factors make it one of the best martial arts for ageing adults, mostly to stay fit and active.
Time Frame to Learn Krav Maga
When it comes to Krav Maga, to get familiar with the martial art and learn the basics, the fighter will take around six to twelve months. When the question of reaching the advanced level and using and learning with weapons comes in, we are looking at about three years or more.
The final and last martial art in this countdown is Karate, which is another great pick for older adults as it not only teaches self-defense but discipline and helps in that full-body workout that is very important for people of all ages.
Did you know there are many Karatekas who have earned black belts in their 70s?
Sounds impossible? Doesn’t it?
But it is accurate, and that is the beauty of Karate. Karate is probably the most popular martial art among the hundreds out there. Whether it is five-year-olds or fifty-year-olds, everyone loves and prefers Karate as their first option, every time.
Karate is believed to have originated thousands of years ago but the form that we practise today was formulated in the islands of Okinawa in Japan. From then on, it has never looked back and has reached milestones on success. The popularity of Karate lies in the fact that it is very safe and highly adaptable.
Karate has a wide range of techniques – punching, kicking, joint locks, sparring, grappling, among others. The plus in case of older adults is the balance, speed, agility, stance and posture that it trains the practitioners in. Karate is a way of life, and it has deep-rooted philosophies. Therefore, it is another great martial art form for older adults.
Time Frame to Learn Karate
For a person who is just starting, he or she will take around eight to ten months to get comfortable with the basic moves and techniques. To reach the black belt, it will take somewhere between four and six years.