Can You Be To Old to Learn Martial Arts?

Can You Be To Old to Learn Martial Arts?

There’s a common saying in boxing, “An old boxer never loses his punch”. His reflexes may be slower. His cardio and recovery may be weaker, but his power output should be similar to his youth. Except he may be a little slow in pulling that trigger. This may be true, but what is the Best Martial Arts for an Older Person? And can you be to old to learn martial arts?

In this article I will highlight why you are not to old to learn martial arts. More importantly what type of martial art you should select and why. So keep reading.

Does the Type of Martial Art Training Matter for Self Defence?

There is a difference between striking and grappling arts on the ability to practice for self defence. As a general rule, forms of fight training that rely more on what you feel than what you see are better for older people to learn martial arts. Simply because an aging nervous system combined with a weaker perceptual system makes it hard to react to punches.

Martial arts that are more tactile such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, even Wing Chun, give an opportunity for aging athletes to compete with younger fighters. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see 40 year old competitors in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), but rare in professional boxing. The point to note though, is that older MMA fighters tend to be in the heavier weight divisions. This is due to less of an emphasis on athleticism and cutting weight for fights.

If you’re older than your opponent, then you may find grappling and striking a better option than Boxing. Simply staying at distance, duking it out with someone is not going to be safe for you. This approach is not going to be the best martial art for an older person.

What’s Really Important For Older Martial Artists

Key to being the successful older athlete is to develop new skill sets. An old dog can learn new tricks. This will make a difference in how you fight. In fact, this will keep you up to speed with the ever change in martial arts training and approaches. As we have seen in often rapid changes in technique in combat sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA.

With age and experience, you may also have better timing, understanding of the fight game and even intuition for fighting compared to younger fighters. Therefore, in order to develop your fight game, keep learning new skills. It’s not only keeps you young in mind, but expands your skill sets and experience.

THE TAKEAWAY: Can You Be to Old to Learn Martial Arts?

Well let’s return to the question: Can you be to old to learn martial arts? The answer is clearly, no. You need to fight in a manner that’s not reliant on your vision. Feeling is more reliable than sight at an old age. Hence, why you can grapple to a later age, but boxing becomes harder.

Best Martial Arts for Older Person?

While MMA offers an opportunity for athletes to compete to a later age. It’s very different when thinking about self-defense in that case, select a martial art that’s well-rounded. I strongly suggest Wing Chun or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In fact, both if you have the time and inclination. Both martial arts teach you how to feel your way through your attacker’s movements. These martial arts rely less on athleticism, more on a level and efficiency of movement (read How to Find a Good Martial Arts School).

Old people can fight for a limited time duration. And this is a stage in a fight that you in which to capitalise your skillset. If you’ve trained well over your lifetime, then you should still have the timing to deliver an effective punch, strike, or kick. You may not have the fitness, but you will certainly have the experience to limit your vulnerabilities.

Personally, I try to work my ability to create situations in which my self defence is reliant on forcing mistakes in my opponent’s game. It’s not fantasy. You simply have to fight in short bursts in short durations. So you are never to old to learn how to defend yourself.

Thanks for reading.



The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>

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