Starting Taekwondo as an adult

Walking into a do-jang full of children and teenagers kicking, punching and yelling can be daunting. The thought of joining the class as an adult can be even more daunting – but it needn’t be that way.

Better than sitting on the sidelines

Better than sitting on the sidelines

My wife Candy and I started with Power with Purpose in our early forties. We were three to eight times the age of most of the other young people and there were only a few adults in the class. We had decided to take the classes ourselves and join our two children who had commenced six months earlier. For us, it was better than sitting on the sidelines. We had seen the many positive impacts that Taekwondo training had had on our children and we recognised the unique opportunity this was to do something like this as a family.

It's natural for adults to feel more self-conscious.

As an adult, many times our self-consciousness can unfortunately get in the way of us doing something worthwhile that may be different or new. Children often haven’t been conditioned that way to worry about drawing attention to themselves or making a fool of themselves. Joining a class for the first time, and standing out because you’re bigger and older than most others, it’s natural for adults to feel more self-conscious. This is further highlighted by our apparent clumsiness and lack of co-ordination during the first weeks of training, and feelings of inadequacy as we see young people around us do some amazing things.

As your training progresses you get to know yourself better

I’ve seen that adult Taekwondo students fortunately have other strengths. I particularly like the emphasis at Power with Purpose that we’re each unique individuals with different strengths – whether that be speed, agility, stamina, flexibility, power or strength.

As your training progresses you get to know yourself better and what your particular strengths are as they develop.

Furthermore, the instructors recognise this – and that students in their forties can’t expect to match fourteen years olds at everything.

Training progresses

We have some distinct advantages in class

Let me share where I feel that adults have an advantage. While we may not be able to match the younger ones with speed or flexibility we have some distinct advantages in class – some physical but most mental. On the physical front we’re generally stronger – which comes in handy for activities like board breaking. We’re also generally more coordinated, perhaps as a result of previous sports that we’ve played in the past.

Adult students focus better

I find that adults are able to focus better

I believe that adult students come in to their own on the mental front. There are many facets to this. By and large, adults have a larger capacity to learn– we’re in a class because we really want to be there. I find that adults are able to focus better, maybe as a result of longer attention spans. We’re able to understand the rationale behind many of the exercises and activities in class and perhaps see the bigger-picture purpose of them. Finally, I believe adults generally have a greater tenacity and don’t give up as easily.

Here are my tips for adults in classes

As a person that took up Taekwondo in my early forties and having recently graded to black belt, here are my tips for adults

  • be willing to have a go. Don’t believe that you can’t do something – just say that you can’t do it yet.
  • warm up and stretch before class, and do some cool-down exercises afterwards to look after your body. We’re more easily injured as we age and healing often takes longer when we do get injured.
  • don’t push yourself too hard, especially at first, and especially for guys. Trying to compete with those around you, who are much younger, will end in tears.
  • focus on yourself and how you’re improving – don’t compare yourself to others.
  • have a clear idea of what you’re wanting to get out of classes and let the instructor know. Whether it’s fitness, flexibility, power or self-defence. For me, it’s been an opportunity to do something together as a family, to get a workout a few times each week and to learn some skills to keep myself and my family safe.
  • try and understand your strengths and weaknesses and work with them both. This ability will develop over time.
  • most importantly, have fun.
Tips for adults in classes
Join Power with Purpose

Give it a go.

As an adult joining Power with Purpose, I’ve found Sa Beom Nim Michael and the other instructors very supportive, especially the acknowledgement and understanding that adult’s abilities, especially middle-aged adults, differ greatly from teenagers.

I’d encourage anyone who has thought about trying it out to give it a go.