Whether you begin at 20 years old or 70 years old, learning martial arts can be one of the best decisions of your life. If you are lucky enough to have found a great Instructor and club then you are about to embark on an amazing journey of self discovery and there's no going back. Here are some top tips for adults to keep you on this journey and help you along the way.
1: MARTIAL ART IS NOT A RACE: We live in a world now where everything is at our finger tips and we want instant gratification. Adults come into the dojang and get frustrated when they can't seem to coordinate their arms and legs. At that point many decide it's not for them and walk away never too return. Every single black belt will tell you the same thing, it takes years to get the hang of most techniques, not one lesson, not 20 minutes of practise but years. Most people, especially successful people, can't seem to grasp the concept that they can't do something and it frustrates and annoys them. Patience and perseverance are key to continuing martial arts. For most people these traits do not come naturally, but over time they will. TOP TIP: Don't give up at the first hurdle, don't be hard on yourself if you can't do something, accept that it will take time and practise and that all good things in life are down to hard work and persistence. It's not a race it's a mentality you need to develop so keep going at your own pace.
2: NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF: Sometimes students start with other family members which is great, however, remember that people learn at different paces and sometimes you will not pick it up as fast as the person next to you and that's totally fine. Accept the fact you won't. Many students get disheartened when they are not ready to upgrade to their next belt. Firstly if you are disheartened it means that you were expecting to grade, which you should never do and secondly it shouldn't really make any difference. TOP TIP: Try and forget about the colour of your belt and just enjoy the learning and the training. When you are ready you are ready. If you quit or stop you'll never be ready.
3: PRACTISE AT HOME: That old saying: "the more you practise the better you get," has never been truer. Martial art is about repetition, repetition and repetition. It's about getting those moves and that coordination that you are struggling with into your muscle memory and the only way to do that is repeat. TOP TIP: Practise everyday at home even if it's 10 minutes. You'll see a huge improvement in no time.
4: ALLOW YOURSELF TIME TO RECOVER: I've seen adults fall in love with martial art training and throw themselves into training 3/4/5 times a week and then wreck their body, soul and spirit. Don't! Build up slowly. Martial arts work every single muscle. Are you going to be sore after training? Probably. Your muscles need time to build up. So follow a hard session with 2 or 3 relaxing stretching days. TOP TIP: After a session where you are aching let your body heal. If you wish to train then do so but let your Instructor know so you can train accordingly and build up any extra training sessions slowly. Long term consistency trumps short term intensity every time. Martial arts are for life.
5: ENJOY YOUR TRAINING: Technically you shouldn't "enjoy" your training as this would mean you were having fun. Martial arts is not about having fun, it's about hard work, commitment, sweat and aching whilst building a stronger body and mind, however, I believe to achieve this you should be engaged and wanting to practise and learn. TOP TIP: Be kind to yourself, don't get frustrated, don't be in a rush for knowledge or belts, don't look at the person next to you, simply be you and learn in your own time.
Martial art teaches us about ourselves. It shows our flaws and weaknesses in our character and it allows us to work on them to become a better person. Keep an open mind and a forgiving heart and enjoy the journey.