Martial Arts Adult Beginners – 10 Essential Tips for Success
As we get older we can often become a little trepidatious about starting something new, especially when that activity seems particularly challenging, physical or even scary! At Evade Martial Arts we have a lot of students who come to us as martial arts adult beginners having never done any training previously and not only smash the goals that they have set for themselves but go beyond what they initially thought they were capable of achieving.
Although it is obviously great to start training in martial arts as young as possible, this is not always going to be doable for every individual. There are many benefits to starting regular martial arts training as an adult. Below, I am going to share with you 10 Essential Tips that I have put together from my own experiences teaching, travels and interactions with other coaches, fighters and athletes that should hopefully help you as you begin your journey into the amazing world of martial arts training/study.
What do you want
This might sound like common sense but as an adult you should really know what you want to achieve with regards to anything you put your time into. Are you wanting to learn martial arts as a fun way to get fit, lose weight, increase your self-confidence, gain self-defence skills etc? These goals will change over time as you reach the ones you initially set, create new ones and find ones you never even knew existed.
Having an initial framework of what you want from it though will help you when you are deciding as to which martial art you would like to try out, which gyms/clubs you initially visit and how you can measure your success within the first year of training.
Once you have decided what you want from training in martial arts, it is then a good idea to do some research. Firstly on the different martial arts disciplines there are (for example, grappling based systems such as BJJ or Striking based ones such as Kickboxing) and then secondly as to what gyms/clubs are close enough to where you live that you could train there on a regular basis. Ask friends for recommendations.
This should then give you a short list as a starting point. Check websites, ring and speak directly to instructors, and then visit to have a watch or take a trial session. Once you have done this with each one, you should be able to make a more informed decision as to which one you would like to continue at.
Feel the Fear But Do it Anyway
Most people get through the first steps of wanting to do it and then checking out what is available in their local area. Unfortunately though, this is as far as a lot get. The actual getting to starting training can fill people with anxiety and they end up putting it off. A lot will say to themselves, “I will do it when I get fit”, “I will start in the new year”, “I can’t commit to regular training because of X, Y and Z” etc.
If we don’t find a way, we will often find an excuse. Don’t put it off. You will get fit by doing it. If you start now, you will be thanking yourself this time next year. We all have difficulties that we have to work around to juggle the priorities in our life, simply find a gym/club that is adaptable to fit in with your particular schedule. Anxiety is the fear of what if, the fear of tomorrow. If there is one thing that martial arts gives you, it is the ability to be stronger, not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well. Don’t let fear stop you from doing the things you want to do!
Start at the right level
Make sure you that wherever you start training or whomever you do it with, you start at the right level for you. That is why at Evade Martial Arts we have beginners sessions in every age group and every discipline. The basics are important and it is essential that your body is eased into physical training so that you don’t suffer unduly from strains, pulls or other injuries that can occur in over exertion.
Beginners classes are there for a reason. To help those new to martial arts start right at the beginning and progress forward consistently.
This particular acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time related. It is a term used across business and sports to help people plot both their own particular goals, and their progressions towards them. This does not need to be as complicated as it sounds. For example, if your goal was to gain your next belt in a particular martial art, you could write it down as follows;
S – Earn Red Belt
M – Grade for the Belt
A – Train for the Belt in class/with coach
R – Speak to the Instructor about when I am ready
T – I want to achieve this within 4 months
This way, you have a specific goal, it is measurable as to when you know you have achieved this, you know how to get there, you can speak to your coach as to when he thinks you will be ready and you set yourself an initial time scale to get it done. This can be done with small goals (if you feel the need) and large ones (it is often a good idea to plan how to reach bigger targets).
The one piece of advice that every coach in the world will tell you is to simply be consistent. You may think that the people around you at times may be bigger, stronger, fitter, more talented but the one thing that separates those who are good at any activity in the world from those that aren’t, is simply consistency. Work ethic and the ability to keep turning up to train are the two things that will guarantee your progression.
The path to success or hitting any goal you have set for yourself is not a straight line going in an upwardly direction, it is more akin to looking like a mountain side, with masses of drops alongside different levels of peaks. You have to ride out the times when you feel not that great to be able to take advantage of the times when you feel amazing. One does not exist without the other.
Your particular journey in life is completely different to anyone else’s in the world. You are unique. That is something to celebrate. It is no different in the world of martial arts. You are going to start at a different time to other people. You are going to have different strengths and different weaknesses. You are going to find some things easy, whilst others may find the same activity challenging, and vice versa.
If you are looking to others, make sure it is for guidance, motivation and to inspire you, not to make you feel negative, despondent and poor by comparison. There will come a time if you train for long enough that others will look towards you in the same way you may now look towards others. The martial arts are passed down from generation to generation not just through physical technique but in the way that we help and mentor each other to progress. A rising tide raises all boats as the saying goes. Your journey is your own but make sure your interactions with others are beneficial for all!
There is no denying it, the martial arts are challenging. There is no doubt going to be countless times in training that you feel like a fish out of water. We are always poor at something long before we are good at it. However, if you switch your viewpoint, this is what makes the martial arts so much more rewarding than just going to the gym or taking part in less difficult activities. Martial arts are often a mixture of physical ability, mental application and technical skill.
All of which take time to develop. You may find that with somethings your mind understands it but your body cannot yet replicate the movement correctly or smoothly. This is where consistent repetition comes in. Or you may struggle mentally with sparring when you first try it out. Either from the point of view of being hit or hitting others. Again, consistency is the key. You have to take small steps and work out how to get past any particular obstacles you face. Martial artists tend to be great problem solvers for this reason alone.
The benefits to an adult mentally, physically and spiritually from making these progressions forward in martial arts should not be underestimated. Winning is not really about dominating another person in competition or on the mats, it is about developing full control over yourself and enjoying pushing the boundaries as to what you can achieve.
Have Fun/Enjoy yourself
This may well be the most important piece of advice on here. If you don’t have fun and enjoy something, you are not going to stick with it over the long term. This is why most people quit the gym or give up on diets. They are often seen as a chore and thus people give them up easily. If you truly enjoy what you do, you will keep doing it. This then will become a habit that you will stick to for the rest of your life.
A person who trains martial arts takes their martial arts into everything else they do. The same energy/approach that goes into solving problems on the mats or training towards a particular goal can be duplicated and utilised just as effectively in other areas such as work, home or study. A black belt mind is a worthy thing to have. Just as people find solving riddles or crosswords fun, a martial artist sees the same enjoyment in their training.
The final tip on this list is to simply keep going! As I have hinted at in other tips above, the real success in martial arts training comes over the long term. Although attributes will no doubt help a beginner when first starting training i.e. already being fit, being strong or having a great level of flexibility, any new starter can develop these through regular attendance anyway.
The best in the world at any particular sport were often not the ones who came to their chosen discipline with a massive bag of attributes, but simply the ones who never stopped. They kept going. As an adult training in martial arts, it is not a case of who is best, more a case of who is left!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article on Martial Arts Adult Beginners – 10 Essential Tips for Success. If you have a child who trains Martial Arts, be sure to check out my guide to helping them develop here!!
Let me know what you think in the comments below! Is there anything else you would add to the list?