As an older adult, you might see Taekwondos flying kicks and feel you might have missed your chance to train Taekwondo. Traditional martial arts are often good places to train if you are an older adult, so is Taekwondo still an option even with its inclusion of flying kicks even if you are older?
You’re never too old to start training in Taekwondo provided that you are in otherwise good health. However, you will need to adapt your training and recovery routine to match your age and fitness level. If you are at an advanced age or have health concerns you should consult your doctor first.
Let’s take a look at how age plays into Taekwondo training and how you can adapt your routine to train safely and with minimal injury risk. We will also take a look at how your general fitness level can influence your training and if there is a minimum fitness threshold for training Taekwondo.
Is Taekwondo Good for Older Adults?
Taekwondo can be good for older adults, as it provides an opportunity for them to get stay physically active in a relatively safe environment. Apart from providing an achievable physical challenge, it also provides opportunities to sharpen their mental skills and meet their social requirements.
When we think of beginners in martial arts, we usually think of small children or younger adults practicing techniques and progressing over time. On the other hand, when we think of seniors in martial arts, we usually think of old, battle-hardened veterans who have been at it for decades, when in reality, many seniors start at white belt.
We rarely think of older adults as beginners in martial arts, which might lead you to belives that starting a martial art isn’t that feasible after a certain age. However, in reality, you can never get too old to start a martial art, and that goes for Taekwondo as well.
If you’re older you’ll likely be less mobile and fit than your younger counterparts, but comparing yourself directly to these other students is not exactly fair to yourself. Starting up martial arts training in an environment like Taekwondo will make you more physically active and mobile than most people your own age, which is a better point of comparison.
Taekwondo provides a good physical activity in a fun and social environment that will suit your fitness levels, while at the same time, not pushing you too much. Naturally, you will need to push yourself over time to improve your fitness, agility, techniques, motor skills, and cardiovascular health. Just keep in mind that overdoing it too soon can be detrimental to your progress.
Your age will not be a limiting factor as classes are often focused on learning the proper techniques and will not likely include hard exercise and sparring. Also, most instructors will adapt your movements and training to follow the class to the best of your ability. They aren’t going to expect an older adult to start doing flying kicks right away.
What Are the Benefits of Taekwondo for Older Adults?
Taekwondo may help older adults get in better shape, improve mobility, and maintain good mental health and cognitive skills. Additionally, martial arts can generally help the elderly by teaching correct fall techniques and promoting balance and stability.
Moving around and exercising is almost always better than being completely sedentary. Physical activity, in general, will help you with both your physical health and mental health since they are so interconnected. Doing Taekwondo can build up your physical health and keep your mental health strong due to the exercise.
Another thing to keep in mind is that exercising in a more social environment is good for people in general since humans are social creatures and need to interact in positive social environments to optimize their sense of well-being and stay in a good place for mental health.
There’s scientific evidence that fall techniques can help the elderly prevent hip breaks and injuries when falling. Good Taekwondo schools can teach these valuable skills as part of their curriculum.
Since falls can be quite serious, any activity that will help you prevent this is worth your time. Even though Taekwondo might be known for its acrobatic kicks, there are also some takedowns and throws, so your instructor will teach you how to fall properly.
A medical report suggests that physicians should instruct people of all ages to practice martial arts. While that report specifically mentions Tai Chi which is a bit different than Taekwondo, practicing Taekwondo at a lower intensity and with maximal attention and mindfulness can have a lot of similar benefits.
Am I Too Fat for Taekwondo?
As long as you’ve been cleared by your doctor, you aren’t too fat for Taekwondo. It will be harder to adapt to training upfront, but instructors will be able to work around your limitations. In fact, many traditional martial arts have some focus on basic fitness and can help you lose weight.
If you’re overweight, you might be worried that your weight will prevent you from embarking on a Taekwondo journey. This idea is fundamentally problematic for people who need to lose weight because exercising will always be difficult when you are already heavy, but any instructor worth their salt will help you modify techniques and expectations and support you in getting into shape.
While you don’t need to be fit to start Taekwondo, you’ll notice it will become progressively easier as you lose weight. And when it comes to losing weight, practicing a martial art is a great way to get in shape, since it won’t necessarily feel like exercise as you push forward since you get to work on skills that are more engaging than spending time on a treadmill.
In addition to that, taking up Taekwondo will give you some structure and make you stay accountable since it is a group social environment. You’ll know that you have to show up for practice at a specific time and that your instructor will want to know what’s happening if you’re not showing up. This might help you train more regularly and thus lead to better potential weight loss results.
How To Approach Taekwondo Training as an Older Student
As an older student, you will benefit from keeping a closer watch on your recovery routine and being aware of the state of your body. Ultimately, one of the biggest differences you will feel when you are training as an older adult is that you need more recovery time or a better recovery routine to train as much as you would like.
If you simply make sure that you eat healthily and sleep enough, that will often be enough to support your training. If you train more frequently or want to maximize your health you can think about integrating mobility and stretching training.
Adding some basic mobility routines when you are older will help improve your techniques as well as your flexibility and mobility overall. Check out the video below to see a routine from somebody over 40 with real tips for older adults.
The key to practicing Taekwondo as an older student with physical limitations is communication. Tell your instructor what your limitations are and see if you can work around them. In many martial arts schools, you can find adult Taekwondo classes that are geared toward adults, which will usually have more ability to adapt than a mixed class that includes both adults and children.
Be sure to talk to your coach and say clearly what kinds of problems you have. If you have mobility issues, you’ll want to work on them as a part of your overall training routine, especially if you can do the mobility exercises before or after Taekwondo class times. The same applies to building up the required cardio to be effective in Taekwondo training.
If you show up day after day and focus hard on learning techniques, you’ll get repetitions and skills built up alongside better flexibility, mobility, and basic cardiovascular health. In some cases, you’ll even have some moderate strength gains.
Even though Taekwondo is known for flashy kicks, it’s not mandatory to perform them that way and you can probably work on more basic techniques during that part of the class. If you’re like most older adults in Taekwondo, you’re probably there for your health and to learn it to the best of your ability.
Unless you’re experienced, it’s usually not recommended to spar in Taekwondo, and this goes double for older adults, especially those with health issues. Even though Taekwondo is not a full-contact sport even when sparring, beginners can get carried away and end up hurting themselves or others, especially as full-grown adults.
Therefore, it’s best to just listen to your instructor and opt out of sparring in the beginning stages of training Taekwondo.
Even if you’re an older athlete or an even an overweight older athlete, you can get started in Taekwondo as long as you work with your instructor to put in adjustments around physical limitations. Keep attending classes regularly and prioritize getting enough recovery through good sleep and nutrition. Building in some form of mobility and stretching routine around your training time is also a good idea.
For more check out Do You Need to Be Fit to Start Taekwondo?