As an instructor at Red Dragon Karate in San Dimas, one of the things I hear constantly from parents is that they are interested in martial arts but aren’t sure if they can do it at their age. It doesn’t seem to matter what their age is — I’ve heard that very same thing from parents in their early 20s up into their late 60s. They all say the same thing. What I tell them is: If I did it, you can, too.
That’s me during my first months of training.
I was never athletic as a kid — sure, I practiced Aikido and Karate in my youth, but I was always out of shape even at a young age and I had zero athletic ability. Well, unless you count playing Cyberball at the Hawaiian Brian’s Arcade in Honolulu as being an athlete.
By the time I started back up at Red Dragon, I was in my 40s, weighed 400+ pounds, had bad knees, two frozen shoulders, and was in pretty horrific shape overall. And I did it. I exercised, trained hard, practiced as much as I could, and finally became a black belt…which, really, just means I now get to exercise harder, train harder, and practice harder.
If I can do it, so can you, regardless of your age or fitness level.
Of course, the real thing that stands in the way of most people isn’t age or fitness. The obstacle blocking the way for most adults is fear. And, having gone through it myself, it was by far the most difficult part of starting my martial arts journey.
The fear itself came in many forms for me — the fear of getting hurt and the fear of failing, being two. However, the biggest fear for me (and a lot of people) is a fear that has been bred into all of us over the years, and it is a fear that comes with adulthood. The fear I’m talking about is the fear of what other people will think.
What will my spouse think when I tell him/her?
What will the other parents at karate think?
What will the instructors think?
What will my friends/family think?
Yup. That’s the thing that keeps most people from taking that first step. The fear of someone else’s opinion of you. It was what kept me from signing up for months. Heck, it took me a couple of months just to work up the courage to broach the subject with my wife, and she’s heard me say and do a lot of really stupid things in our 10+ years together. Once I convinced myself it was a good idea, I had to tell her. Then I had to take the long walk up to the front reception desk at my son’s karate and tell his teacher (Sensei Mike Salcido — an amazing guy and fantastic instructor!) that I wanted to take class…and that was almost as hard! Once that was done, I had to go out on the floor for my first class and ‘perform’ in front of other adults.
It was nerve-wracking. Overcoming that initial fear and that adult worry of what someone else thinks about your life is the hardest, silliest part of getting into the martial arts. Once you get over that, the rest of your training is a piece of cake. Well, except for burpees. Those things are a bitch!
Get past the fear and get started on that road to fitness and felling better about yourself. Want to know a secret? Do you want to know the truth about what all those other adults think about you starting martial arts training? They’re jealous. Almost every adult I’ve talked to — especially those parents sitting around watching their kids do karate every day — wishes they did it. Regardless of which brand you’re interested in, martial arts are cool and practicing them is one of those hidden dreams most grown-ups have. When you take the leap of faith and get out there on the dojo mats to start learning, you’ll notice a gleam of jealously in the eyes of the moms and dads sitting outside. They all wish they had the courage to do with it.
Don’t wait any longer. Go ask for a free lesson to try things out. You won’t regret it. You’ll get healthy and you’ll get to take part in one of the coolest physical activities on the planet. Trust me. I’m speaking from experience.
-Mat Nastos, The Karate Geek
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