As instructors and martial arts enthusiasts, we hear “I’m too old for that stuff” all too often. If you ever listened to the adults who said this, you would think they thought their lives were over.

You would also think that only children can participate in and enjoy martial arts. Not everyone finds a path toward martial arts, but those that do are not simply relegated to doing so in childhood.

Here Is One Great Example

Take Keiko Fukuda Sensei for example. She was the grand-daughter of a Samurai, destined to be a Samurai’s wife and was in training for her duties. 

At 21 years of age, she was introduced to an instructor who offered to teach her Judo in his school. After beginning her training, and subsequently falling in love with the art, she discovered that in order to continue her training she had to give up her pre-destined life.

Change Can Be Both Difficult & Worth It

She continued to train and teach in Japan for many years. 

In the 1950s she came to America and continued teaching until she was 99 years old. 

The reason I mention Fukuda Sensei is that she did not begin as a child, as many male students might have. Yet, she found passion, strength, and life in her art. It carried her through many rough times in her life and she still taught 3 days a week until she passed away at 99 in 2013.

Fukuda Sensei is an inspiration to me. She is not only an inspiration because she was a woman or that she broke traditional gender barriers, but because she did not let her age stop her from bettering herself and finding her place in the world. 

I was 25 years old when I began training in martial arts. At age 27  I taught myself to do a back walk-over and have since been working on a back handspring. I have been sore; hurt; injured; cried; and sweat (A LOT), but not once did I tell myself I was too old to do what I was/am doing. 

It sounds cliché, but age truly is a state of mind. Set your goals high, you may not always get where you want to go, but you will certainly get farther than you are now!

Let Your Mind Stay Young & Adventurous

Let yourself wonder if you can do those things you see others doing, and then see if you actually can. 

It will not happen overnight, but when it does, it will feel amazing. I know that eventually my body will not want to do as many things as it does now. I feel lucky that I am able to push my body and learn to do things that many think can only be done if you start young. 

If I had stayed on the sidelines and never stepped onto the mat, I would never have known what I was capable of doing. I’m thankful when I wake up sore in the morning because I know it means I accomplished a lot the night before.

Not Just Physical

I am also thankful that martial arts are not solely about physical capabilities. Martial arts can be adapted to whatever physical capability you have and continuously improve on it.

Martial arts are also about our character. When my body begins to fail me, I know that my martial arts training will have made my mind and character strong.

I know that I will still want to teach others and help them build strength of character that compliments their strength of body. That is an absolute certainty. 

Martial arts has strengthened my family and deepened the bond that my husband and I share. I have made lifelong friends, and our Dojang is our family. 

We continue to grow and train together, and nothing is more satisfying than that bond, and the knowledge that we are ever improving ourselves.

Don't Become Trapped In The Belief That You Are "Too OLD"

We have had students who didn’t start with us until their 50’s or 60’s!

You won’t look funny, no one will make fun of you, and no, it is not just for kids.

Success is never guaranteed, but progress is. Success is guaranteed never to happen if you do not try.

Don’t wait until you ‘get in better shape’ to start living your best life. You will get in better shape through the process! You will feel much better overall.

The road to self-improvement is exactly that, a road. It does not matter what ramp you enter on, just so long as you get on and don’t exit unless there is no other option!

“Tsuyoky, yasashiku, utsukushiku” (Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful). – Keiko Fukuda Sensei

This #Teammate article was written by: Brittani Rose