I started martial arts when I was in my forties and here are my "lessons learned" for adult beginners.Stretch, Stretch & Stretch Some More - You are not 15 any more! As you age, your muscles and tendons become less flexible. In other words, it is easier to hurt yourself. Remember to stretch at home before you go to Taekwondo and stretch at your Taekwondo class. I even stretch at work in order to prep for my evening Taekwondo classes. Concentrate on all areas of your body but put increased emphasis on your legs and any of your individual "problem areas". Visit our stretching page for Taekwondo stretching suggestions.Talk to the Master - Most Masters/Instructors are very accommodating to adults. Remember we are ones that write the checks, have kids who might attend the school and who have friends who might become members. So talk to the Masters if you have a problem or a question.Ask for Help - If you are having a problem with a technique, ask for help. The Masters and other students want to help. They remember what it was like when they were "newbies".See a Doctor - If you are seriously out of shape or have a medical condition (i.e. heart problem), please see a doctor before starting any martial art. Taekwondo is a very physical sport.Take a Break - If things are too intense (especially early in your Taekwondo "career"), take a break either in the classroom or during the week. Catch your breath and come back. Also to improve your Taekwondo experience over the long-term, you should work on your stamina.You Will Get Hurt - You will enjoy (or is that suffer?) some intense workouts during Taekwondo. Unfortunately, you are no longer a spring chicken. Therefore, you will occasionally get hurt… so be ready mentally for the inevitable sprain, bruise and/or ache. More importantly, would you rather tell someone that you hurt your back at Taekwondo or when you were playing shuffleboard? :)Don't Rush Back - If you are hurt (i.e. sprained ankle), take some time off & let things heal. You will only make things worse if you rush back & aggravate the injury. For injury treatment ideas, please visit our Taekwondo Injuries page.Lose Some Weight - This will help you to reduce the pounding on your knees & feet. You will also have more energy (as you will be hauling around fewer pounds). Regardless, you will be losing weight eventually because Taekwondo helps you to burn a lot of calories!Cheat - Yes, cheat. Buy a book and practice your Taekwondo forms & kicks at home or in the office. Prepare in advance for your belt test & amaze your Taekwondo buddies.Practice - Like I tell my boys, practice makes perfect. Buy a practice dummy and practice your kicks & punches at home.Shoes - Wear martial art shoes if allowed. These will protect your feet & toes from dislocations and some bruising. The downside is a little less control on some of the more advanced kicks (i.e. spinning hook kick). Bare feet are more "slippery" than shoes so it is easier to spin.Tape - If you practice without shoes, please consider taping your toes and/or ankles. When I first started out, I dislocated my big toe when sparring. My toe got caught in the mat and snapped out. Ugly and painful as my whole foot turned black & blue.Kids - If you have children, you should try to take Taekwondo classes with them. It is a great family bonding experience!Develop An Expertise - You might not have the best spinning hook kick but you probably have a better memory and focus than the younglings. Focus on a favorite area to master. For example, become a forms expert so you can teach others and show off your superior martial arts wisdom! :)Have Fun - Last but not least, you should just focus on having some fun and blowing off steam after a long day at work. You won't be as flexible as the kids in your martial arts class or as strong as the 25 year olds but who cares! Just enjoy yourself. You will love the camaraderie, weight loss, stress relief and non-stop aerobic exercise.
Kwanjanim John Cantu
Master Instructor of Icon Martial Arts