Am I Too Old to Start Judo

So, your sat there wondering if the opportunity to study Judo has passed you by. Your too old, it’s too late to start, you won’t learn at the same pace as others, you’ve had too many injuries, your too busy or are you just too scared to try? You hear this question asked time and time again as people worry that there best years have passed them by and the opportunity to learn a martial art has disappeared long ago. Well over the next few minutes I’m going to convince you this is wrong.

The old proverb

It goes without saying that the best time to learn anything in life is when you are a child, that way you can leverage that skill or knowledge for the rest of your life slowly tweaking and perfecting it as time passes. Well when it comes to Judo this wasn’t you and it can’t ever be you so there’s little point dwelling on this.

To miss quote an old proverb the best time to start Judo was 20 years ago the next best time is now, right now.

What benefits are there

When you start any martial art at any age you will instantly start reaping the rewards. First, there are the general improvements in your overall fitness. If you have spent the last 10 years being a couch potato then you will notice this more than anyone, its going to be tough but the fitness results alone are worth it.

If you already spend a few hours a week trying to stay in shape, then Judo will offer you another weapon in your arsenal that’s way more fun than spending an extra 10 minutes on the tread mill. With basic fitness you should be able to focus right away on getting to grips with the basics.

It often said that martial arts help boost self confidence but despite what people may think this isn’t because you swagger along thinking you can take on anyone with your newfound skills. The real reason why people experience a boost in self confidence is because they feel good about learning new skills and overcoming adversity.

Judo is great for building mental resilience as you are conditioned to keep battling on despite the discomfort you may be felling. This can translate over into your personal life making dealing with the everyday stresses of life that much easier. Plus, it has been well documented in recent years that your physical health can have a big impact on your mental health.

On top of all this there is usually a social side to Judo as you meet new people and build new friendships as you enjoy the journey together. Most Judo clubs will have a good family atmosphere around them and there are opportunities to meet people you may not have otherwise spent time with. This makes taking up Judo a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

Risk of injury

As with almost all sports Judo does run the risk of causing injury, if you have an old sports injury or an underlying heath condition its worth checking with your instructor or a medical practitioner before committing to Judo. Some of the techniques can be particularly dangerous if not performed in the correct manner.

A good instructor should be able to teach their students new techniques in a controlled and safe manner to minimise the likelihood of an injury occurring. One of the key principles of any martial art is to look after your training partners at all times, everyone needs training partners to practice with so it’s in their best interests not to injure you.

That said Judo can be taxing on the body as you spend a lot of time being thrown into the mat, it will take a few months to condition your body to deal with the impact, but this is a challenge all new starters face. Think of it in the same way as starting a new gym routine, you know how your muscles really ache for the first few weeks but once you get through the initial period it doesn’t seem to hurt as much it will be exactly the same with Judo.

Competition prospects

This gets raised quite often and to be honest if your starting after around 16 and harbouring dreams of taking home Olympic gold your delusional. Those select few who make it all the way to the top have lived and breathed Judo from a young age putting in endless hours of training every day.

But just because you’re not going to be an elite athlete doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to compete. There are opportunities at all levels right from the start if this really matters to you. On top of this most clubs will include randori as part of their regular training. This is an opportunity to try and execute techniques against your training partners as they attempt to do the same to you. It’s the closest you can get to competition without actually competing and nothing beats the feeling of getting one over on a training partner particularly when you’ve worked so hard at a technique.

I’m not the only one

One thing that might come as a surprise to you is that you’re not even the oldest person in the class, you might not even be the oldest new starter through the door that week. Lots of people take up martial arts later in life (I’m talking over 45) and find they get a lot out of it. Not to mention you quite often find new starters moving over from other martial arts because they want to learn something new. If you’ve never studied Judo and you start the same time as a Karate black belt, then your both white belts in Judo!

Check out this video of an aged Kyuzo Mifune still looking nimble on the mat.

The verdict

Judo is a fantastic hobby to get started in whatever your age. It provides a fun and competitive way to keep fit whilst boosting confidence and mental strength and who wouldn’t want that. There is no perfect age or time to have started but getting into Judo is a decision few people end up regretting. I would highly recommend you go along to a local club and give it a go, if you not confident enough to have a go you can always watch a class and see what you think of it.

If your looking to buy a Gi I would recommended checking out my Gi tips section where you can find everything you need to know so you can find the perfect first Gi.

A rough age guide

Under 30 – Why are you even here get started now!

Under 31-40 – You should be just fine go along to a class

41-50 – Find a class and get started you might want to speak with an instructor before attending

Over 50 – Attend a class and see what it’s all about, just remember you don’t have to do everything straight away.