Beginning Taekwondo at 40

How old are you? If you answered 40 or older, then congratulations! You can start taekwondo training.

In fact, according to the US Olympic Committee, many athletes who competed in the Olympics are over 40 years old including 40-year-old boxer Mira Potkonen and 51-year-old wrestler Hugo Toeppen.

The question if one is too old to begin learning taekwondo has been a popular one in the community.

If it is too late to start your journey in Taekwondo or any form of martial art at 40? Starting Taekwondo at 40, although it is a delayed entry into the art is by no means a setback. At age 94, Dr. Harlan Van Over is the oldest receiver of a taekwondo black belt. With age, comes maturity and it goes without saying that maturity of mind is treasured in martial arts.

There is something about aging and the physical limitations that assumedly come with it. The specific topic here is on starting dedicated Taekwondo practice at the age of 40 and showing that despite one’s limiting beliefs and physical insecurity, with sincerity in practice and time, age is never really a barrier to beginning one’s journey into martial arts.

A core tenet of Taekwondo practice is strengthening the mind and viewing it as a weapon of itself which is an interesting and simple outlook. I mean, after all, what is the use of complex and fancy moves when the student does not understand the purpose nor understands the situation and cannot adapt? Hence simplicity and efficacy are emphasized greatly.

Of course, it is essential to know the limits of one’s body and what the strengths and weaknesses are, because ignoring all of these and imagining that one has the same level of physical durability and flexibility as a twenty-something is delusional.

The journey at 40, has to be well-defined as to what the objective of the training is. Whether one wishes to learn a self-defense art, enhance physical well-being or compete in tournaments. The background of the student has to be taken into consideration as well, in that, are there any injuries? Has he learned any form of martial art prior? What is his daily routine like? How physical is he in his overall life?

Are you too old for Taekwondo? We also covered a related post on that.

Does he suffer from any health complications? These are important questions that need to be considered by both the aspiring student and teacher, so as to be able to foster learning in a way that produces growth with some level of challenge without pushing to the point of burnout or worse, injury.

Patience is another vital component of learning Taekwondo at such a mature age.

Taekwondo is a well-known and commonly practiced form of martial art that has its origins in Korea. It is one of those arts that, regardless of where you travel In the world, virtually everyone has either heard of it or seen it before.

  • In Singapore, it is nothing unusual to see children, adolescents, and adults donned in the dobok and training in Taekwondo at our various Community Centers, often in the evening or on weekends.
  • It is undeniable that in our country at least when Taekwondo is mentioned, a surprisingly significant portion of people assume it's something that ‘children learn’ when in reality, there are countless adults who train in the art both locally and globally.

It might be humbling to a mature student to realize, due to certain age-related rigidity or other issues, it takes him longer to get certain moves down as compared to his youthful counterparts that lap it all up and seem to have unending energy. Being proactive and relentless in learning yet patient in outcome is a principle found in virtually all forms of martial art, not just Taekwondo. But at a slightly senior age, this principle becomes much more important as greater effort and care are needed to minimize injuries and strengthen the body. Therefore, it is futile for a mature student of this art to compare his progress with someone far younger and feel frustrated as he thinks he is not making any progress when in reality he is.

Although what has been mentioned so far on learning Taekwondo at 40 might sound a little blunt or dim, that is not the case at all. With age, comes maturity and it goes without saying that maturity of mind is treasured in martial arts. A mature person has gone through significantly more trials and tribulations in life compared to youth and has had to face an assortment of challenges and responsibilities that it builds stability of the mind and deep confidence that one is capable of overcoming anything and a way will be found. The right mentality is essential for true growth.

To conclude, in the words of Eternal Grandmaster H.U Lee,

“In victory be humble. In defeat, be strong. In all things, be fair.”

Martial arts enthusiast & loves exploring all of life before it all ends!
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