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Ian Williams
01-26-2004, 06:50 PM
Hi.

I'm 36 years old and have a bit of a history of inactivity after a "sporting" youth :) I'm not fit at the moment and overweight but itching to do something about it. I have trained a little in Judo as a teenager and even attened a few Aikido lessons before the Spiritual aspect put me off.

I'd like to get back into training now but have a few concerns and I'd love your guys opinions.

1. Due to a few years inactivity, I'm a bit worried how my body is going to deal with breakfalls. Having trained in Judo as a teenager I learnt breakfall techniques which are still reasonably second nature (having used them in accidents such as tripping over in a hole in the back yard etc, coming off a bike and what not) but am worried about how my body is going to react now, on the worse side of 35 :)

2. What sort of activities would you guys recommend before I take it up again to get myself in some shape where I could handle the rigours of training? (stretching etc), or should I just plow into it (albiet, gently)

3. I'm not neccessarily the smartest tool in the shed when it comes to picking something up the first time it's shown to me, and that has really put me off training in the past. I really do need to be shown something a few times before it clicks, but when it does, I'm usually ok with it. This requirement seems to bother and upset a number of instructors who seem to only want to show something once. From what I saw in my limited exposure to Aikido dojos and instructors, they were not particularly "newbie" friendly. This worries me quite a bit.

Sorry for the long rave (and first post). I have done some reading on this forum and noted a thread on why people stop training. Someone did mention newbie unfriendliness and I yelled an "amen" loudly to that :).

So that's it! I'm old, fat, inactive and not very flexible, but keen as mustard to give it a go with the right instructor. Am I an idiot? Am I passed it? Should I go quietly into my retirement of chess and gardening? :) Opinions, ideas, encouragements please!

G'day from Australia!

Don_Modesto
01-26-2004, 07:49 PM
Hi.

I'm 36 years old and have a bit of a history of inactivity after a "sporting" youth :)

DJM: It's the sporting youth which might be a problem. I can't get used to being middle-aged either, but my body lets me know when I'me getting too enthusiastic.

1. Due to a few years inactivity, I'm a bit worried how my body is going to deal with breakfalls.

DJM: Myself, I dog breakfalls as much as possible going into rolls when I can. When I lose a few pounds, the breakfalls are a lot easier. You might diet and do some aerobic exerize to lose the extra weight.

3. I'm not neccessarily the smartest tool in the shed when it comes to picking something up the first time it's shown to me, and that has really put me off training in the past. I really do need to be shown something a few times before it clicks, but when it does, I'm usually ok with it. This requirement seems to bother and upset a number of instructors who seem to only want to show something once. From what I saw in my limited exposure to Aikido dojos and instructors, they were not particularly "newbie" friendly. This worries me quite a bit.

DJM: That's not been my experience with MOST. Find someone else. If s/he's the same way, screw 'em and move on again.

Am I an idiot? Am I passed it? Should I go quietly into my retirement of chess and gardening? :) Opinions, ideas, encouragements please!

DJM: No. No. No. Ganbatte!

Jamie Stokes
01-26-2004, 08:58 PM
Hello Ian,

I started training in Adelaide originally, and I know of two Dojo's that are "Newbie friendly"

The first is Shomen Renmai Kenyu Kai, under David contact details are on this website under Dojo search. Currently they train in the North, up near Parafield ( They have moved since I shifted to Tasmania)

There is another, whose details I cant recall, who train nearer to town.

I know where they train, just cant recall address of contact details.

Both friendly dojos, but I suppose that comes down to a combination of training focus and personality types.

Will look up those details if you're interested.

Don't worry about the age;

- as for exercise, something like a gentle stretching regime, and perhaps a low impact

sport like swimming.

- O'Sensei was teaching the art up to the day he died, at 86. thats a 50 year youth difference.

So just listen to your body, and train at a pace you can cope with.

warmest regards,

Jamie

Noel
01-26-2004, 09:08 PM
Ian-

At 33, after five years out of aikido, and pretty much anything else aerobic (unless beer-can sailing counts as aerobic), I picked it up again.

The morning after a workout, I know exactly which muscle groups got worked. I also have to ease into stretching at the beginning of workout, and ukemi doesn't come as easily as it used to, but wow, it's a rush to be doing it again.

'Sides, I bet I can go pound for pound with you in the fat department. It just gives you a little more momentum to work with. ;)

Just ease into it, and remember, you aren't doing the wrong technique, just one that isn't being practiced right now.

Good luck,

-Noel

Ian Williams
01-26-2004, 10:25 PM
Not sure about beer can sailing, but I am familiar with beer can drinking..

*sigh*.. something else that will have to go no doubt :)

PeterR
01-26-2004, 10:42 PM
Hi Ian;

I started Aikido at your age and did fine. Something I can't do nearly as well as some of the spring chickens but so what.

I think it is a waste of time trying to get in shape before starting Aikido for the simple reason that Aikido is not normally that physically demanding for beginners. Those demands will increase and surprise, surprise so will your fitness.

If fitness is a main motivator you might consider doing something else in parallel but to put off Aikido because of lack of fitness does not really make much sense.

If you are overweight, moderately increased activity coupled with a moderate modification of diet is probably the best thing you could do. I consider beginning Aikido very moderate.

Bronson
01-26-2004, 10:43 PM
I believe in one of Dave Lowry's books (possibly Moving Toward Stillness) he says that if you are fit enough to walk into the dojo under your own power you are probably fit enough to begin training (or something to that effect).

The physical part wasn't the most difficult for me. It was getting up the gumption to get my ass off the couch and go to the dojo. Once that became my regular routine it all got a lot easier :D

Good luck and good training!

Bronson

Nick P.
01-26-2004, 10:46 PM
Aikido with no beer drinking afterwards?! Does such a thing exist? ;)

Seriously;

1- We have a "newbie" who is 70+ yrs old. He inspires me every time I think I can't take one more fall.

2- Walking as much as possible helps me stay limber...that and getting whipped around by Sensei and the sempais.

3- I agree with Don. However, you obviously have "the bug" as you are prepared to give it another go. Congrats for that!

Train well.

-N

rachmass
01-27-2004, 06:39 AM
Nothing wrong with starting aikido at 36 (or 76 for that matter)! Be patient with yourself though, because typically it is harder for your body to learn at 36 than at 16 or 26. Also, your body won't recover as quickly as it did when you were younger, and so with that, you have to be even more patient with yourself.

As to being overweight; well, as long as your doctor says it's okay, then there is no reason for it to be a problem. If you carry your weight in your stomach (or even if you don't for that matter), stomach and pelvic strengthening exercises are important. Several are extremely easy, such as lying on the floor on your back and tightening the muscles in your center and lifting both your head and legs a few inches off the ground and holding for a few minutes (and repeating). Another is to flip over onto your tummy and do the same in the opposite direction. Strong gut and back muscles are important to develop.

Practice sitting in seiza (you've done aikido before, it is the seated position you take while bowing in) for a few minutes at a time until you can sit comfortably for at least 5-10. Practice squats to strengthen your quads (important aikido muscles as well).

You will develop your breath as you start to practice regularly.

Finally, people start practicing at your age all the time, and many continue for years to come.

Enjoy the journey!

Rachel

SeiserL
01-27-2004, 09:30 AM
Personally, I started Aikido at 44. That was 9 years ago. still train 3 times a week. Love it.

When I was younger I looked up the the older people still on the mats, and they were only in their late 20s and 30s. Now I am one of those old guys.

While nutrition, cardio, and stretching can help you, the best advise i can offer from experience is to show up and train.

Relax, go slow, be patient with yourself, breath, and enjoy training.

Welcome to the Dojo.

MaryKaye
01-27-2004, 10:14 AM
I was 39 when I started training, 40 now, and mildly overweight. Luckily my dojo is very friendly to beginners, because I was the world's worst forward roller--it took me five months to finally lick that. They were very patient with me.

If you train a bit, you will quickly find out which parts need extra stretching or exercise, and I think that's easier than trying to guess in advance. For me it was strange things like the soles of my feet.

I still can't touch my toes--in fact, I can't get anywhere near my toes--after a year of practice. It doesn't seem to get in the way of my aikido so I've stopped worrying about it. So don't judge yourself in advance.

My other bit of advice would be: don't be grim, and if your dojo is grim, consider finding a different one. Aikido can be really joyful and fun, and being able to laugh at yourself and each other will get you through the hard parts better than anything else.

Mary Kaye

Morpheus
01-27-2004, 02:35 PM
Hi.

I'm 36 years old and have a bit of a history of inactivity after a "sporting" youth :) I'm not fit at the moment and overweight but itching to do something about it. I have trained a little in Judo...
I'm getting ready to start out at 40! Find a qualified instructor (someone who wants to teach and is willing and able to) and go for it.

Michael Hackett
01-27-2004, 02:58 PM
Hi Ian,

I'm about to celebrate my 57th birthday and have been training just six months. I've been in generally good shape all of my life, running, biking, weightlifting, but it still was intimidating to start on something that looks so easy and is so hard. I only wish that I had been in a position to train when I was 36 or 26. Our dojo is a very warm place for newbies and the senior students go to great lengths to help their juniors, often staying on the mat after class to work on a particular technique. I hope you have the same experience where you train.

There are some mornings that I awaken a little stiff and sore, but that goes away quickly and is as quickly forgotten when I get back on the mat. I only attended one class a week for the first month, two the next month and now I usually do three or four classes a week and stay on the mat after class each time. Just ease into it.

You won't regret your decision. Have fun, watch and listen, have fun and train.

Good luck.

Nick Simpson
01-27-2004, 04:46 PM
I cant give you any advice that the good people here havent already said Ian, the only thing I can say is: Go for it mate!

gstevens
01-28-2004, 01:41 PM
Wow I could have written your question the exact same way. Same issues, age, weight, inactivity, etc.

The hardest part for me was picking a Dojo. I went and looked at 5, before deciding. Then I picked the one I am part of, and wow. Look around if there are more than one in your area, don't rush the very begining. The Dojo that you pick seems to have a big impact on your continuing to train. It has to fit you.

The first couple of secessions were the hardest, getting used to what to expect, clapping at the begining at the same time as everyone else etc. Felt like lots of social pressure. Two weeks in I realize that it was all in ME, no one else even noticed, or if they did, their thought was "I should have been there to help you with that, instead of across the room where I was".

Throw yourself into it, and I think that two weeks later you will be amazed! I'll be happy to let you know what it feels like in three weeks next week :)

MaryKaye
01-29-2004, 02:02 AM
It can be really helpful, I find, to turn these situations around--ask yourself "Would *I* be mad at a newcomer for clapping the wrong way? Would I look down on someone who made a mistake on his first day?" If the answer is "no" then maybe your fears are somewhat unnecessary. (If your answer is "no" but your dojo's is "yes" you are probably in the wrong dojo.)

Mary Kaye

Guy Jackson
02-04-2004, 02:58 AM
I feel for you, I stared training this past September. I was 49 over weight by at least 80 lbs. and without any stamina. I train at two dojos that are affiliated, both our VERY beginner friendly, it never ceases to amaze me how friendly and helpful my fellow students are. It makes a big difference in your training experience.

I've had some hard times, got a little ahead of my skill level early out and did a bad forward roll that left me with a fractured rib head and out of practice for 6 weeks. As I've said I'm over weight and when gravity takes over there is a lot of weight heading towards the mat.

I'm still struggling with my breathing and stamina, there are times I have to take a break during practice because my lungs are collapsing, but i keep coming back because I always feel better after practice than I did when I got there.

I know I have a long way to go but I train with people of all ages, some much older than me and they all inspire me to keep coming. Its a long way from the couch to the mat, but its a very worth while journey. So go for it, you find it worth the initial sore muscles, its a good hurt.

Ian Williams
02-04-2004, 08:38 PM
Hi All..

Just to fill you in with some progress. I have found a local jujitsu dojo close to where I live and have started attending some lessons there. I've done my second lesson and am pleasantly suprised that I'm managing to pick things up reasonably quickly. The instructors and students are friendly and welcoming.

The 1 1/2 hour lessons are killers when it comes to fitness though and I've had to politely excuse myself for drinks breaks along the way! At the end of the lesson last night I could barely walk out to my car my legs were so wobbly :) Oh well I'm sure the fitness will improve over time.

I'm going to try and leave it at one lesson a week for a little while as it's taking me a couple of days to recover from the muscle aches and pains, but at least that leaves me hungry for more.

On the Aikido front, there are not many dojos in my city (Adelaide, Australia), most of them being a fair way away from where I live. There *IS* a university club nearby but the idea of practicing with predominately university age people puts me off a bit. We shall see.

Thanks all for your support and encouragement. And yes, if an old slob like me can do it, so can you! :)

YEME
02-05-2004, 06:52 PM
I've seen many fit looking 20 year olds take a breather half way through a session because they couldn't keep up.

and we all feel like muppets when we start - there are good and bad sessions. I've been in one where the instructor just gave up on teaching me a certain move cause i couldn't get it... (for the sake of other students and possibly his own sanity)

the next morning i was walking through the house and suddenly i understood what i was meant to have been doing in the movement...whether this is old age or just plain me i don't know...but one foot in front of the other and i know that eventually I'll get there...so will you.

Morpheus
02-05-2004, 09:49 PM
He quit for your own good I think. You weren't able to do it and it got to where you needed to step away from it before you could get it.

CatSienna
02-05-2004, 09:55 PM
Hi Ian,

I started not too long ago at 34 which isn't that far off from 36 and found the beginners classes very undemanding in the sense of physical stamina or strength so at the starting stage I think you'll be fine as long as you have a patient crowd at the dojo.

I don't find aikido is good for getting into shape at beginners level but being in shape I think makes aikido a lot more enjoyable (actually it makes living more enjoyable :) )so at the time I was also doing other things like going to the gym to build strength and stamina and yoga to build flexibility and balance.

What I did have a problem with was just figuring out where my arms and legs were :D. But that's just me being uncoordinated and has nothing to do with fitness or age!

I will say that the one thing I really liked when I started was that because it was so new and challenging to me, I focused completely during class. It meant that I felt completely refreshed and recharged by the end of the lesson.

So start training, and enjoy! :)

Richard Elliott
02-08-2004, 09:23 PM
[QUOTE="Ian Williams"]Hi.

Hi Ian

Hey, no worries mate!

I am 49 now. I started Tae Kwon Do when I was about 36. Before that, I didn't know 0 about martial arts; only what I saw as entertainment, and then I never gave it a thought. There was one Korean Karate dojang in town run by a James Fields. Man, I was so green I didn't even expect him to ask me why I was there, what I wanted, or anything! All I knew is that I needed a change of habit and that I needed to get back in shape--like you.

What I really wanted was a challenge, but heck, I didn't even know how to verbalize that.

The instructor turned out to be "somebody" in the Tae Kwon Do circles. He was head of the SORT Team (sort of the SWAT Team for the Texas Prison System), and all his "Boys" he had trained and they also worked for the prison. He didn't take older adults, but seemed to really specialize in some of the younger guys, a couple who were "at risk" youth.

In the beginning, these guys weren't all that nice. I think they were testing me a little. In any case, I am so glad I stuck it out. My biggest accomplishment was just keeping up with some of them. It was a special time for me.

Usually, your first impressions are correct when you enter some place, but don't forget to not only talk to the instructors; talk to the students too!