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Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Being over 50 is not a time to STOP anything!

Though it Is a time to revaluate things? Damn right it is!

Your body is changing, it might be slower, weaker, have chronic pain that has just recently reared its ugly head. You may have back pain and latent injuries that now won’t go away. Getting up in the morning is a challenge for your aching body parts that have enjoyed 50 years or more on this planet.

Maybe you’ve been lucky so far and its gone without any major hitch, but now your body isn’t so forgiving. You have put on a few extra pounds, in places where there ought to be far less. Your mobility is restricted, limited, sometimes even painful, and all you can think about in these moments are those moments when you were “young’, when you were as strong as an ox, faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. But reality, and life, has another idea in store for you Superman/SuperWoman.

50 years, and you have life experience for certain, your mind has matured, or for most of us anyway, we would like to think. I shouldn’t make any presumptions now should I? No but seriously, for most of us, priorities have changed, maybe our children are all grown up, our jobs aren’t at the centre of our existence, nor is our business, we need something new, a new adventure. Maybe we need something to distract us from our daily mundane lives, to give excitement to our lives again. Maybe our Doctor has insisted we get fit and healthy, or die!…yipes. There is something else that has sparked our interest, or it’s something that’s laid dormant for many years and now awaken to tap us on the shoulder and say “Hey I’m ready. Let’s go do some martial arts!”

So where do I begin you may ask yourself. There are so many options these days; Karate, Tae Kwon do, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, Muay Tai, Boxing, kickboxing, MMA, Judo, wrestling, freestyle and the list goes on…It really doesn’t matter, which ever you choose in the end, will be GREAT FOR YOU!!!

It’s not just about the style, but also the instructor, the way it's taught, its training methods, and the expectations on the students, without taking away the challenges you require to get the most out of your training and its benefits. Its your fellow students and the atmosphere and the philosophy that is promoted at the club. All these matter to the individual in their own individual ways. There is no best Martial Arts for over 50’s, just the best for you, for what ever reason/s they may be.

Below is a list of some, only some, of the styles and their characteristics and challenges for those over 50:

Striking - Punching, Kicking, blocking, and all done mostly standing.

Grappling - No punching or kicking, or very little. Can be standing, but always leads to the ground.

Also note, all martial arts are physical, and in most cases combative, so chance of injury can occur in which ever you choose. Just be aware. BE REAL.

Karate: (Striking)

Great for fitness, stamina, flexibility, coordination and self discipline. Mainly a standing art, using hands and feet. Some are better for self defence than others. If you enjoy more the traditional styles of martial arts, then this could be for you.(bear in mind there are many types of karate)

Challenge: Can have rigid movements which can lead to joint issues, or just uncomfortable to execute, but that's depending upon your abilities and your body's movement or lack of. Sparring can lead to injuries but is rare, usually just only minor stuff.

Tae kwon Do: (Striking)

Great for fitness, stamina, flexibility, coordination and self discipline. Usually done standing and predominantly with the use legs/feet. They do have some great kicks! Some are better for self defence than others, depending on the instructors influences and experience.

Challenge; Similar to karate, as above. There is alot of "hopping" on your toes, that may put alot of stress on your joints, especially your knees.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: (Grappling)

Definitely is fantastic for fitness, very physical, technical, mostly on the ground, great for self defence, and if you like being in close, and in each other’s faces and more, this could be alot of fun for you. Most of the time is spent on the ground, and alot on your back.

Challenges: The sparring can be very physical and demanding on the body. Injuries can be commonplace, and I don’t mean always major. Tough on back and neck due to positions you may be “forced’ into. Very taxing on the body when sparring. Submissions, especially of joints could cause injuries, but usually they're only minor.

Judo: (Grappling)

This will keep you fit, build power and athleticism, and also good for self defence. If you enjoy rollercoaster rides this could be for you. Standing up predominantly, but the idea is to throw your opponent to the ground. HARD!

Challenge: you are getting thrown around all day, basically hit by the earth, so you can imagine the dangers in that. Knees, ankles, joints and your back and head are all at risk, but in saying that, having good partners to train with, and learning the breakfalls and practising caution prevents injury.

Wrestling: (Grappling)

This will work your fitness, and fantastic for self defence. An explosive and powerful martial art. Probably the most! Standing up, but it's about getting your opponent to the ground in the forms of takedowns and throws. Just like Judo, HARD!

Challenge: The aim is to take you down to the ground as quickly and as hard as possible, and submit when possible too. And this done by some very strong and powerful individuals. The training can be gruelling, Very demanding on the body!

MMA: (Striking & Grappling)

Mixes many martial arts into anything that works for you to win the fight, especially in the ring, or octagon. Great for self defence, fitness, stamina, coordination and more…

Challenges: being a mixed martial arts that incorporates both striking and grappling, means that the challenges that both incur are available here.

Boxing: (Striking)

Awesome for fitness and coordination, and great for self defence. If you like just punching, and wearing gloves and sparring, then this could be your thing.

Challenges: Sparring is the most dangerous part of learning boxing, and its dangers are in head injuries, so be weary of which club you choose to train. Otherwise it offers awesome training methods to get you fit, agile, nimble on your feet and more.

KickBoxing: (Striking)

Very similar to boxing, but you get the use of your legs. It's great for fitness, stamina, coordination and mobility, and self defence.

Challenges: Kickboxing is very similar to boxing, but also using kicks, obviously. So its challenges are similar as to boxing, though you might want to watch some of those kicks to the knees, shins, calves and head.

Muay Thai: (Striking)

Also known also as “8 limbs" for the use of elbows and knees (2 hands, 2 feet, 2 knees & 2 elbows). Muay Thai is great for fitness, stamina, coordination, and no slouch for Self Defence.

Challenges: Also very similar in its training to Kickboxing but now with an extra added element of both knees and elbows.

Tai Chi: (Striking)

Though I categorised it as a striking art, which it is, it kind of does everything, but in a very latent and gentle way. So really fantastic for any age, matured aged and even the elderly. Not so great for self defence in my opinion, unless maybe you are a master.

Challenges: It doesn’t really have many real difficult physical challenges that are harmful or cause injury if done correctly, unless you do.

First 2 Strike Freestyle Martial Arts (F2S): (Striking & Grappling)

(Wollongong, NSW, Australia)

Ok I may just be a little biased here, but this is the BEST!

Well, no, that’s me just being facetious. All martial arts a great, and have much to offer, it really is subjective.

F2S is great for fitness, stamina, coordination, flexibility, focus and discipline and offers really practical Self Defence techniques and concepts. It uses all your limbs just like Muay Thai, plus adding in some not so kind stuff like head butts, eye gauges, biting and whatever else you need to use to get yourself out of a potentially dangerous life or death situation. We teach a freestyle martial art, which is basically a mixed martial art focused on self-defence (not competition), infused with the classical martial arts tradition, taken from the Korean, Tae Kwon Do. It’s good for mature aged and over 50’s as the movements are based on circular and relaxed, non rigid, movements. As you progress, locks and restraints, grappling, throws and takedowns will come into play, and many other aspects of self defence as well.

Challenge; Live sparring is where you could possibly get hit, but with control and good technique this can be avoided. It is similar to the challenges of Muay Tai, though sparring isn’t as full on as we are not training for competition. Sparring as a beginner starts with non-contact. In the grappling sections is where we integrate BJJ and Judo, which would be similar, but these are only taught to the higher belts.

In general, the striking arts are easier and less taxing on the body, but don’t let it deter you to try the grappling arts. They may just be your goldilocks; “perfect’.

The real question here is; Can you do it? Can your body take it? (And that has nothing to do with your age!) Should you? Do you want to take up martial Arts? Only you can answer these questions. But YES YOU CAN, make no mistake, there IS a martial arts out there that will enable you to train, challenge yourself, to improve, and to ultimately benefit from. It might not be the first one you try out, nor the second, but don’t give up, persevere, and you will find it!

Many offer Free Trials, so have a go, as you have nothing to loose.

Main thing here is to open yourself up to the possibility, and that’s really all that matters!

See you at training…


Pil Sung (Certain Victory)

- Vince Serra (First 2 Strike Freestyle Martial Arts)


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