Get an early start on your child”s love of learning
I love getting e-mails from Karate enthusiasts all over the world. In fact, I get them almost every day. So, naturally, a couple of topics keep poppin’ up get an early start on your child’s love of learning the subject line from time to time.
One of which I planned on dealing with right here, right now. I did Judo and Hapkido for a year but didn’t continue because of the distractions of school, etc. I’ve been at it for 4 months now and will be taking my first grading in a month or so. I don’t really care much about belt colours because I figure at my age I probably will never reach black belt level. I’ve begun doing karate and kobudo. Anyway, I was just curious what your thoughts are on starting karate in one’s early 40s. Or is it just too late?
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You already know what I’m going to answer, dontcha? The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. But, to be completely honest, I’m not even the right guy to ask if we’re talking personal experience with starting Karate late, because, well, I’ve been training Karate for as long as I can remember. I do have a little bit of experience with teaching late bloomers. One thing most of them unfortunately seem to have in common is this nagging uncertainty.
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Am I too old to be doing this? Certainly, when you look around at most Karate dojos of today and see these difficult punches and kicks, you get afraid. That’s not something a frail old adult should be doing is it? Sure, some crazy adults are doing it, but they must have some kind of death wish, right? I mean, logically, one can’t really expect to learn anything new at that age, can one? The brain fluid is too dry, nothing new can grow in there. The limbs are too inflexible and the mind is too stale.
If you recognize yourself in the above statement, you are not alone. So, by taking a quick look at some cold, hard, science I hope to help you understand. See, it’s all about understanding the motor homunculus. The reason you, as an adult, will most likely suck bad at any new fairly complex physical activity you undertake is because of a particular part of your brain known as the motor homunculus. It’s the very same bastard who won’t let you control your individual toes.
Notice how overrepresented the hands, lips, and eyes are and how underrepresented the arms, legs, and feet are? Basically, the more motor cortical area devoted to a region, the greater and finer the voluntary control over those muscles groups we have. No matter what age you are. A quick history lesson: originally the above map was created by Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield in 1937.
Penfield was a dude who pioneered brain surgery on awake patients. He would use a small electrical stimulator to map out different parts of the brain, which is still done by neurosurgeons to this day. His logic was simple but scary: stimulate a part of the motor cortex and watch which parts of the body twitches. Over the course of 5 days, as subjects learned the one-handed, five-finger exercise through daily 2-h manual practice sessions, the cortical motor areas targeting the long finger flexor and extensor muscles enlarged, and their activation threshold decreased. Thus, they demonstrated that even adults show cortical plasticity after just a couple of days of simple muscle training.
That is, piano practise caused the amount of brain devoted to voluntary muscular control to grow. Just like training Karate will make the relevant areas in your brain suited for Karate grow. I too old to begin Karate? The reason you suck at Karate is not because you’re too old.
And if you refuse to believe that, you are essentially refusing to believe science. It’s never too late to exercise your brain’s plasticity. You didn’t start as a kid? No need to let the first decade of your life make all the rules. After all, most of your life will be spent in the other decades, right? And for Funakoshi’s sake, don’t skip stuff that seems too hard.
Just don’t expect to be a World Champion from day one. So don’t try to fix the past, fix the future. You’re going to live there for the rest of your life. I’ve just recently found this site, and I love it! I’m 59, and got it in two years to the day from which I started. I was at an obese weight, depressed, and scared shitless, but I did it anyway.
I’m absolutely astonished how much fun I’ve had, the friends I’ve made, and the lessons learned. Damn straight, I wasn’t too old. It’s two years later, three times a week, and I have a solid Blue belt. I’m more confident and a lot more fit. With any luck and a lot of hard work, I’ll have my Brown belt by 60. I am 56 and a haven’t done any full training for 10 years and i have been shown a lot of interest to teach the art as I am a second degree black belt. You are an inspiration keep up the great work!
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I’m ready to start at the very beginning but don’t know where to go to get compassionate training! I am 46 and started 6 months ago. I love every minute of it, even the sprained knee. Can’t tell you how much I love this!
What a wonderful, and inspiring article. Even if someone read this out of context, or if it was rewritten to not even pertain to karate, it would still be a nice motivational speech to try something new even if you have reservations about trying it, or have self doubt that you’re not good enough. Jesse-San,as a 42 year old returning karate-ka, thankyou! Wow Jesse, You outdid yourself on this post! When talking about this topic I am going to start referencing this post.
Fantastic article, I train with a couple of guys, who believe they are too old to kick right or punch right and generally have a feeling of apathy because they feel they are past it. Truth to tell I am passing this article to them as a form of motivation. I was 311 when I started to train once again. Had 6Kyu form my time as a teenager but choose to put on my white belt anyhow since I thought I had forgotten everything. Everyone else was a kid there, I was the only old person. I found out that you are simple put never to old to start training Karate.
You were 311 years old when you started to train again? Can I borrow your philosopher’s stone? Hahahahaha He might have taken double blue band ? Hey JesseI started Goju Ryu in my mid thirties.
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Yes, sometimes I feel like a numpty, but you know what? It is the BEST thing I have ever done! Thanks for another awesome inspiring post. First of all, thnx again for a great article.
I’m myself a late beginner: I started 2. 5 years ago at the age of 40 and as a total newbie. I did not even do any kind of sport on a regular basis, except swimming, but this app 10 times. Taking up Karate was my best decisions in the last couple of years.
I started martial arts at 36 when I was fat, very unfit, and suffering from way too much stress. Fast forward 7 years and I’m no longer fat, very much fitter than I was, and no longer stressed. Not so long ago I decided to change styles and go back to being a whitebelt again. The style is sufficiently different that my motor thingamabob has quite a bit of growing to do if I’m going to be competent. I studied Shotokan in my late teens to early 20’s then stopped until nearly two years ago when I started self training primarily using Youtube videos to relearn the katas of my youth, plus new ones as well. Currently I’m 49 and have been self training for nearly two years. It’s been a blast so far and I plan on continuing for the rest of my life.
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I am 46yr now and am preparing for my 1st dan coming december 2011. Its agood age to start karate trust me. I feel that age is a state of mind I started to practice karate at the age of 63 and am still at it. I started 4 years ago with 35, and a complete sports break of 18 years. 2 things I’d like to add for us geezers: 1. You can keep up with the young guns in class. We can make a lot of ground with probably more willpower.
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Most limitations are made up by ourselves, like “I’m too old”, “I’ll never learn that”, and so on. If you think that way, then it will probably be that way. When i began learning karate almost 40 years ago as a teenager, i never thought to reach black belt. Some nights it was impossible to sleep because of self-doubts.
So you see the self-doubts are not a matter of age. Even years later suddenly executing a single move almost perfect, next time it wouldn`t work again and i almost lost patience. I’ve seen so many teenagers out there that have given up due the their self doubt. Especially in todays instant gratification society. I enjoy karate and blogs like this as I learn something new each time I read or do something.
The way I see it, a black belt is a license to learn more! Everything up to black belt is ONLY, and O. Y Preperations for starting to learn Karate for REAL! I started Karate at 53 and love it.