The popularity of martial arts is becoming more evident as today’s senior generation is discovering the health benefits offered through training. As the average U.S. life expectancy has increased to reach in the low to mid eighties for women and mid to upper seventies for men, many are exceeding the average and are taking on a greater role in maintaining their health by studying martial arts.
Once considered a “younger person’s” activity, adults over the age of 50 are now enrolling in such well-known arts as Tae Kwon Do, Kenpo, Hapkido, Judo, Aikido, Tai Chi and yes, even Jiu-Jitsu.
When deciding a martial art, older adults must first consider what it is that they want to accomplish. Is it for personal self defense or perhaps the benefit of exercise? For some, the reason may be for social activity or to focus on sharpening mental awareness. Regardless of one’s goal, seniors are achieving amazing results from training, much like their younger counterparts.
As a result of this popularity, many schools are developing special courses designed for those over the age of fifty. Martial arts which emphasize powerful kicks such as Taekwondo or grappling and joint locks such as Hapkido or other various forms considered as “hard” martial arts, are capable of being structured to meet the physical abilities of older adults. Martial art forms such as in Tae Kwon Do offer seniors many health benefits as well, as this form of exercise continues to grow in popularity as well.
In Jiu-Jitsu for example, considered a rough and tumble martial art, courses are designed for seniors with a greater emphasis on defending against the opponent’s attack by using the attacker’s own strength and force to your advantage; the same could be said for Judo and Aikido. Tai Chi continues to be a popular “soft” form among seniors as it focuses on slow and controllable movements, emphasizing balance and various aspects such as flexibility and low-impact exercise.
Practically every martial art can be designed to fit the need of the older practitioner as the instructor should take into account the individual health issues that one is facing. Many seniors, well into their seventies and even eighties, continue to succeed in such hard styles as Tae Kwon Do and Shotokan Karate. It is a matter of examining one’s own self and the various styles of martial arts and determining which art would be most suitable.
Depending on your own personal situation, advice from your doctor and further discussing your options with a certified instructor, can lead to great gains in your life by discovering the many health benefits through martial arts training.