View Full Version : Is 30 too old to begin? How do I fit in? Feedback requested...

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7/22/2010 7:55pm,
Well, I'm 30 now. I've had a lifelong interest in MA but never trained in any of them. I've been seriously thinking of changing that. But before I do, I'd like some feedback from experienced martial artists to help me sort some stuff out.

First off... is it as abnormal as it seems for a guy my age to begin MA training? I keep having visions of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer was dominating terrified children in his Karate class, and I don't want to be *that* guy. Do most schools even offer beginner classes for adults? All the people I know who've been into MA got started at a very young age.

Now, I know I'm too old to reach some elite belt or become a superstar UFC champ. I don't care about that at all. And no, I haven't been in a real, live fight since high school (had plenty of them growing up... usually got my ass kicked because I had no idea what to do). I haven't even sparred since I was 18 and a freshman in college (got my ass kicked in freestyle wrestling a lot, too, back in those days--still didn't know what to do). I'm interested in training in MA for the following reasons:

1.) I want to be able to defend myself from drunken assholes in bars trying to pick fights over stupid ****, like getting jealous that I looked in their gf's general direction or that they bumped into me when walking past, etc. I've been getting that lately and having to bluff my way out of it or back down, but I know that won't always work.

2.) I'm in grad school and I'm looking at getting a bouncer/doorman job a few nights a week to suppliment my income for the next year. I think MA training might come in handy for a job like that.

3.) I think it would be fun and I've always had an interest in MA, but I want whatever I study to be practical in a real life fight, should I ever get into another live one before I die.

4.) Once I get some experience and training, I may fight competitively here and there as a hobby. It would sure as hell beat playing golf...

Physically, I'm 6'1" and 250lbs at about 25% bodyfat (down from 270 in May and my goal is 205-10). I have about a 79" reach, a high tolerance for pain, and ok upper body strength, but I'm pretty stiff, slow, and generally unathletic from the waist down. I really let myself go in my 20s and haven't done anything athletic since high school, but I've been whipping myself back into shape for the past couple of months. I have chronic achilles tendonitis in both legs, as well as some minor, nagging foot/ankle problems to deal with, but otherwise I'm ok physically. Just out of shape.

Initially, I looked into RBSD/Krav Maga stuff because I thought it would be a good way to get started with very basic street H2H, but most of what I've read and watched of that stuff looks like crap that might actually get me killed if I ever try it. I'm interested in BJJ, but I'm told that if you bust it out in a real bar fight you're just going to get stomped by the guy's friends while you're groundfighting. Muay Thai looks promising, but I wonder if it would be a good fit for my bodytype and limitations.

What do you, more knowledgeable guys think I should look into? Any other styles I should probably take a look at with my goals and physical tools/weaknesses?

Anyway, if anyone takes the time out to help a newb here, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you!

7/22/2010 8:10pm,
The thing you should remember is that there is always going to be someone in your exact situation, starting the exact same time as you. Your story isn't any different. Its not going to be all young kids coming in and running circles around you(although there will be some)

From my own experience, getting back into training a few years ago in pretty atrocious shape, the hardest part is just to go to that first class. Its an umcomfortable situation, but as long as you do the research and find a style and instructor that fits you, the nervousness becomes less of a factor and you start to actually have fun. Its an awesome feeling.

Good luck.

7/22/2010 8:15pm,
I started at 37. I know others who started even older. Don't let your age hold you back.

7/22/2010 8:29pm,
I would suggest judo, maybe some Muay Thai to pick up some clinch skills.

It is never to late, you will just have to work harder at it.

7/22/2010 8:44pm,
I think I remember a guy a bit back saying the same thing as you did, except that he was about twice your age. You're going to be all right.

Cue the stampede of guys with the, "Judo. It's cheap and widely available."

7/22/2010 9:01pm,
I'm 32. Ofcourse, I've been doing this for years. However, I recently switched styles just to get into something different. There are a few younger guys in class that know more than me, and the senior student is about 6 years younger than me. But it is no big deal. If you go to some place that is legit, it will be fine. The first few times will be weird, because they are going to be wondering if you are that guy who comes for a couple weeks then never shows back up.

After about 3 weeks, the will look at you like everyone else...someone who is trying to better them self! Hardest step is the first one.

Muay Thai would be great, so would Judo. I prefer MT, but that is because, that is what I did!!

7/22/2010 9:47pm,
I tend to notice that martial arts like BJJ and Muay Thai are quite often frequented by older people. Where I train, a lot of guys doing BJJ are in their 30s. Many of them have full-time jobs and have wives and children.

And although in Thailand, lots of Nak Muay start their training before they hit the double digits in age, many of the guys in my class are in their mid-20s or 30s. Hell, I'm 20 and I'm a baby compared to most of the guys at my gym.

So don't let age restrict you. It's never too late to learn something new, pick up a new skillset, get into shape, or just start down the road to self-improvement and bettering one's self.

Lu Tze
7/22/2010 10:12pm,
Edit: Internet farted, I double posted.

Lu Tze
7/22/2010 10:13pm,
I started Judo in my late 20s, lots of people started much older... so stop being a *****!

As you've probably noticed, people will be nudging you towards combat sports, as the general consensus (at least here) is that they build better attributes and more applicable skill-sets for actual fighting than most "self defence" oriented arts.

I could highly recommend Judo as a starting point, but I'm a little biased.

Try out a few classes, and pick something you enjoy.

Off the top of my head: Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, wrestling, Judo, SAMBO, san shou oriented kung fu, shiua jiao, MMA, wing chun, it's all good.

7/22/2010 11:21pm,
My instructor started at like 31-32 in BJJ and got his blackbelt a couple of years ago. I start BJJ at 27. We've got one guy in our class that is in his 50s and just started. Plenty of whitebelts in their late 20s and early 30s.
As long as you aren't starting Kiddy Karate there should be plenty of adults in the beginner classes and almost every school will have adult beginner classes.

7/23/2010 3:13am,
Is 30 too old to begin?

How do you fit in? Find a school/style that you like and start training :)

7/23/2010 6:27am,
It's not to old, but if I were I'd go see my doctor first, just to make sure.

7/23/2010 7:56am,
If you've got dodgy legs boxing may be a good idea, it might help on the dooor if you do become a bouncer as I'm sure there's plenty of 'drunken haymakers' thrown at door staff. Judo would be good for that as well, to deal with the drunken shoves, hugging etc but I don't know how that will work with your tendons.

Prince Vlad
7/23/2010 8:00am,
The biggest issue I can see for older guys taking up training is fitness. Knee and joint problems plus cardio can be a real pisser to get over especially if you've spent a few years doing little or no training. Re BJJ, I took it up at 36 and didn't have any problems. Most white belts at the school I go to are from their 20's to their 40's and they are all bad asses (considerably tougher than any white belts I have ever seen in any other style). The biggest difficulty I had starting BJJ was anaerobic fitness but if you work on it outside you will get there. The only reason I would advise someone to think twice about BJJ is if they had neck a neck injury.
At 30 you are still brand new - I wouldn't worry about taking up anything.

7/23/2010 8:26am,
I started martial arts at 39, judo and bjj at 41, and competed in my first tournament last weekend. 30 is nothing.

I also have dodgy knees (dodgy shoulder, dodgy neck, dodgy finger), but stretch regularly, take ibuprofen when I need to, and wear Cliff Air Brace knee braces to class. I've also found that the single most important thing you can do when you have problems with your joints is keep your weight down. Martial arts should help with that, but don't feel as if you can over-indulge just because you did some exercise.

Go to class and take it as it comes and people will respect your effort. If they don't, they're dicks and you're in the wrong school. Find a new one.

Whatever way you look at it, you're going to get older. So are you just going to give in and get fat, or are you going to accept that the body has limitations and find a way to stay active and work around them?

Good luck.

7/23/2010 9:21am,
Just to echo some previous sentiments; no, you're definitely not too old at 30. I did some kyokushinkai karate at university when I was 19-20, then started at jiu jitsu at 40. Trained with another guy who was at least 55.

There is another thread about "middle-aged bustardos" who train. If you are interested in bouncing, there is a thread in LLL (it may be sticked) devoted to the subject. Search function - you may enjoy the reading.