Martial Arts for Masters and Seniors – Age is just a number

We have many students doing martial arts (BJJ, MMA, kickboxing, karate, JKD) at the ICC who are 50+ years of age, of whom did not start learning their craft until their 40s or even 50s – past the age of when most people would consider trying out a new martial art.

It can be understandably daunting when the class is filled with faster, stronger and younger bodies.  Luckily, ICC’s BJJ, MMA, kickboxing, karate and JKD classes has a place for students for all ages – including masters and seniors!  It is important however, to listen to one’s body and undertake the proper precautions to limit potential injury and train consistently.  Our top tips include:

  1. Choose your training and sparring partners wisely – especially if you are just starting out; consider pairing up with a more experienced partner who better understands the techniques and how to apply measured strength.  Or choose someone who’s training for the same reasons as you.  Don’t feel like you have to roll or spar the young gun training for his/her next competition who’s out to tap or knock everyone out.
  1. Go at your own pace — it could be tempting to go hard and prove yourself in one session, but what if it means you are too wrecked to train the rest of the week?  Or do too many sessions in a week, tweak/pull/tear something and then miss several weeks?  Taking on a new martial art or sport requires that your body go through an adjustment period.  So listen to your body and choose a sustainable pace for your training.
  1. Slow down— moving fast all the time doesn’t necessary mean you’re going to land that killer blow when striking or passing and/or submissions whilst grappling. And you may end up over-extending or going beyond your permitted range of motion resulting in injury.  Not all martial arts techniques require lightning movement. In fact, there any many techniques which require you to be slow and steady, like footwork and shadow sparring drills for striking arts or positional control to understand the fine nuances for effective grappling arts.  Consider incorporating these techniques in your game.
  1. Be mindful of old injuries/issues — only you fully know what your limitations are. Let the instructor and training partners where you have particular weaknesses that don’t take well to certain techniques. If you have a bad knee, maybe avoid load bearing exercises on the leg like lunges or submissions that involve the knee.  If your lower back is bothering you, consider only practicing straight line movements avoiding unnecessary twisting through the trunk or if you are grappling, perform techniques where you are on top with your partner offering only limited resistance.

By undertaking these simple precautions, you could find yourself practising BJJ, MMA, kickboxing, karate or JKD for the next 20-30 years.  As we always tell our students at the ICC – it’s not how old you are, it’s how old you feel!

Give our BJJ program a go and experience the improvements to all of these fields. It is considered to be an excellent first style where the skills are easily transferable.


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