View Full Version : Am I too old to start?

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01-01-2005, 12:56 PM
Hi all,

I just enrolled to an aikido dojo nearby starting the day after tomorrow.

What concerns me is that i am 31 years old and completely untrained (and hence very rusty) for the last 7 years (too much office work :( ). So I decided i urgently needed to do something more physical than typing on a keyboard. As I get very bored at gyms lifting weights I decided to opt for aikido, intrigued by the underline philosophy.

What concerns me the most is the fact that i feel and am totally untrained and far from flexible. The trainer at the dojo said that i should not worry but i would like to hear some honest opinions from the community and especially from people (if any) who pursued aikido (or other martial art) after 30ies.

01-01-2005, 01:25 PM
I started as a 39-year-old in fairly poor shape (did some walking but no other exercise). It took me longer to learn to roll than my more athletic counterparts, but after two years I roll nicely (and love it!) One of our students started at 50 and just earned his black belt at 61. You are definitely not too old, and your physical condition will improve with practice. I'm told that one very senior sensei of our line started at 49.

Aikido doesn't take enormous amounts of flexibility. I can't touch my toes and probably never will be able to. The 61-year-old has substantial flexibility issues in his knees, but he works around them and his aikido is very light and effective.

A story I found inspirational when I was starting out:


One thought: some dojo are more physically demanding than others. If you find your initial experiences discouraging you may want to look into other dojo in your area. Look for one with a diversity of ages and levels of physical ability in the classes.

Mary Kaye

01-01-2005, 01:26 PM
I was 31 when I started aikido. I had stopped swimming competitively when I graduated high school. I had not done any martial arts for 10 years (since I was 20 in college and that was karate which was totally different.) I had been in graduate school with all sorts of crazy hours and too much sitting. Been to chiropracter for my lower back in my late 20's because of an old lifting injury. I was stiff enough from lifting weights in college and very sporadically afterwards. I could not sit in seiza for more than a few seconds (my ankles would scream pain).

I shed about 20 lbs during the first year of aikido which shows what a little regular physical activity can do. After the first six months I was able to sit in seiza comfortably for over a minute. I learned to roll around smoothly and find my balance.

There are people who have started aikido in their 40's, 50's or 60's.

Best advice is know your own body. Eat healthy. Do some extra slow stretching routines or learn some yoga to in the morning when you get up and be a little early to class to be sure you are wamed up. You can never be too warmed up.

I am 43 now by the way. I wish I was as young as you.
I prefer to still act like I am 25 for the rest of my life and keep doing aikido.

Kevin Kelly
01-01-2005, 01:31 PM
I'm 38 and recently started. I have no other previous training but I love it. I also get bored going to a gym. I'm sure it will take time for me to learn, but I don't plan on giving up. We have a pretty good mixture of young and older folks at my dojo at all different skill levels.

01-01-2005, 01:37 PM
Hi Euripides !

Nearly ten years ago I started in Aikido being in a lousy state, and I still have to work hard at
some basic things,but this year I got to 1.kyu and that to me is fantastic,
Aikido opened the door for me to trying things like FMA and Capoeira,and before Aikido I had no martial experience,now all martial arts are part of Aikido to me because it is my door of Budo.
You may not have guessed it but I was 31 when I entered a dojo for the first time in my life.
You are still young learning wise,if you have the time and opportunity to train 3 times a week
much will happen over time.

gambatte - Chr.B.

Janet Rosen
01-01-2005, 01:46 PM
I started at 41. When I read your query re 31 being too old, I giggled :-)

01-01-2005, 02:01 PM
21, 31,41???? Try 48 and a half, that was 5 years ago?? :D It's fun to throw the young kids around ( the 18 to 25 year olds) and even more fun to play with the kids your own age. :p You know what ????? It's plain fun plain fun.

the 4th oldest guy in our dojo

Niamh Marie O'Leary-Liu
01-01-2005, 03:04 PM
I started training at 29. Like most people I've spoken with, I found that my flexibility improved significantly over time.

We've had beginners in our dojo start in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Everyone learns at their own pace, regardless of age.

Happy training.

Jerry Miller
01-01-2005, 04:03 PM
Just start, a late start and a slow start is better than no start at all. I am 48 years old.

01-01-2005, 04:40 PM
I started 10 years ago at the age of 44 years young.

01-01-2005, 05:23 PM
I restarted at 32 after a significant (5 year +/-) hiatus. The knees aren't what they once were, but as my Dad says, "Old age and trickery will beat youthful enthusiasm any time."

Jorge Garcia
01-01-2005, 06:40 PM
I started at age 38 and hadn't exercised since High School. I had high blood pressure, symptoms of diabetes as well as being about 75 pounds overweight. I struggle still with my weight but managed to lose 52 pounds of that the first year in Aikido. The sugar and high blood pressure are long gone. I too never could do a gym though I have been a member of many. Ten years later, I am a nidan in Aikido, I have a small group I lead at the YMCA and plan to go as long as I can. Aikido saved my life and has been the reason I have had the quality of life I have had as well as all the great experiences and dear friends. It wasn't easy but it was worth it. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely do it again.
Best wishes,

01-01-2005, 06:56 PM
I started two years ago at 46. While I was in fairly good shape and have been trained in dance and yoga,none but one of the black belts at my dojo can touch their toes and their ukemi is just fine.

01-01-2005, 07:04 PM
So where in Greece? I travel there often enough.

I started Aikido at 35 but was reasonably fit to begin with - but really Aikido allows you to adjust your training to your own body.

Michael Hackett
01-01-2005, 07:13 PM
Started at 56 in pretty good shape. Seiza killed me initially, but that passed. I think the shorts I'm wearing now are 31, so don't worry about it - give it a try and enjoy your training. The journey is worth it! Good luck.

Reg Robinson
01-01-2005, 07:34 PM
Hi Euripides,
Please bear with me as this is my first time participating in a forum. I started Aikido five yrs. ago at the age of 55. It had been at lest 30 yrs. since I had done any martial arts at all.
I almost quit during the first four months, instead I spoke to my Sensei & told him that I did not wish to quit but was thinking of it. Sensei helped me to feel comfortable about training at my own rate. Now, five yrs. later, I am still at it, & loving it.

So you are not too old, train but train smart, at your speed. Reg Robinson

raul rodrigo
01-01-2005, 08:52 PM
I started at 32 and am a blackbelt now. So your age should be no problem.

01-01-2005, 09:06 PM
O Sensei was in his 80's when he developed the art

01-01-2005, 10:23 PM
O Sensei was in his 80's when he developed the art
He was in his 80s when he died.

More to the point he was early 30s when he started studying Daito Ryu.

ali og
01-02-2005, 09:21 AM
Whew...this thread is really making me feel better. I just started in Sept '04 and I am 39, previous training in t'ai chi (which has helped immensely), and in what I would consider decent shape, but not great. Most of my dojo-mates are younger, with the exception of two or three. I decided to start training because this is an art that I want to practice for the rest of my life and thought it would be good to start now. Yes, the rolls were initially intimidating and they don't seem to come along as quickly as I'd like them to, but I suspect I'll "get there" eventually. I am a tad more careful with my knees, more than I used to be because I don't want to miss out on training. For example, shikko will sometimes tweak my ACL a bit. But overall, I feel like training has a lot to offer in terms of new skills, a few laughs, and a lot to think about. Plus, being around younger folks can help me see things differently.

I'm delighted to see so many folks who've picked up this art after 35 and many of whom hold dan ranks now! Thanks everyone, and especially Euripides!

garry cantrell
01-02-2005, 10:04 AM
well, you may be too old to expect to make it to 8th dan one day, or maybe not = but here's the important thing - 3 years from now willl still be three years from now - and then you'll either be 34 years old with 3 years of the flexibility, coordination, confience, attitude, health, etc. etc. that you'll get from aikido - or you'll be 34 years old without those benefits.

01-02-2005, 11:26 AM
Euripedes, you have been given loads of good advice from the members of the forum, so I hope you now feel better about starting aikido at 31! Many, many folks start much later and continue to enjoy and grow in their practice, and many, many people start a lot younger and quit (same goes for older folks too). Just remember that aikido takes a lifetime to learn, and that it typically does not come easily. Just get in there and practice, and above all, enjoy the ride.

Cheers, Rachel

01-02-2005, 01:13 PM
I believe there was a story about O'Sensei taking someone in the late 60s or early 70s who had worked hard all their life and then wanted to study aikido. I believe the man went to black belt.

01-02-2005, 07:13 PM
hi Wuipdes san,
When I saw the forums title, I was wondering how old you were. When I saw how young your were it reminded me of a short story that I wanted to share with you.
I was at Hombu dojo on Thursday evening for the Arikawa shihan's class several years ago. He wasn't teaching that day. So, while I was stretching before the last class for the day, I looked for an elderly gentleman on the mat - hoping he knew what was going on with the dojo. I asked him why Arikawa shihan wasn't teaching that evening. He whispered to me that shihan was very ill. Acutualy ,Shihan passed away a week after the encounter. He left for the evening but he asked me to practice the next day. I got to know a little bit more about him the following day. For the majority of the time at Hombu, we stayed with the same partner for the entire class - we didn't change partners every time. He told me he was 75 years old and started Aikido when he was 50. I didn't ask his rank. At the end of the evening class, he told me that the 5th dan was granted recently to him as he held up 5 fingers. I only visit Hombu dojo twice a year, but I could not wait to see him to say hi. He told me he was hooked on Aikido. So, if you continue from now to 75 years old, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the art as, obviously, it is never too late.

01-02-2005, 07:29 PM
One of my teachers is 75, just got his 4th dan.He started when he was 40. He still throws himself into breakfalls, and goes waterskiing every weekend. Like I said...

Lan Powers
01-02-2005, 10:37 PM
One of my teachers is 75, just got his 4th dan.He started when he was 40. He still throws himself into breakfalls, and goes waterskiing every weekend. Like I said...

My newest hero!! :D I started at 42, oldest student in the school.(I still am) 44 now.

Larry Cuvin
01-03-2005, 01:00 PM
I started last summer 2004, I'll be 45 this January and up for my first test. Lovin' it.

01-04-2005, 08:56 AM
I started last year at the tender age of 48 and love it. It has really changed my life for the better, both mentally and physically.


01-04-2005, 12:12 PM
I started at age 29 and extremely overweight, out of shape and physically inactive for about 10 years. I've been practicing aikdio for 5 and half years now and am ranked 2nd kyu. My fitness level has siginificanly improved by doing weight training and aerobics to supplement my aikido.

daniel loughlin
01-04-2005, 01:07 PM
you are never too old for aikido.i know an 85 year old woman who has just lost her son through cancer and had it herself.she still attends

Choku Tsuki
01-04-2005, 09:55 PM
Bottom line: right now, today, you're as young as you're ever going to be.

Lyle Laizure
01-05-2005, 05:23 AM
Just take your time and don't rush your training. 30 is far from being old.

01-11-2005, 04:11 PM
I am 33 and just started Aikido in mid November and like so many other people have before me I can whole heartedly attest that I love training so far. Pretty amazing considering my relative newness to the art, but I think I fell in love with training the very first class. I have lived an extremely sedentary life, I wasn't even very active as a child, and for me Aikido is the first serious athletic activity I have ever undertook (Discounting bowling and occasional paintball). I am 6'1 and about 50lbs overweight and more than a little uncoordinated from a lifetime of not moving, so I am fully cognizant of the fact that training will probably be much more difficult for me. :P I find rolls to be difficult (ironic to be sure) but I can do them somewhat which is encouragement enough and I am seeing some improvement. I wish you well in your endeavor and hope you will enjoy Aikido as much as I have so far.

Shannon Fry
01-11-2005, 07:31 PM
I started two years ago. I will be 39 in March. I am also testing for my 2 kyu at the end of the month. My goal is to be shodan by Dec 05'. I will get there. Set your goals and don't let a number get in the way.


01-12-2005, 09:58 AM
As people have unanimously said it's never to old to start; i'd add that one of my teachers (know third dan) is in his early sixties. I often comment to others that if i'm as fit as he is and still able to take high breakfalls and such things at that age i'll be most pleased!

A word of, 'caution', though. We lost somebody recently at our Dojo, she was in her forties (i guess) and was really enjoying aiki and had been training a few months.
But she went to a seminaar and got really disheartened about, i think, something about the youth and enthusiasm of some of the participants.
We tried to convince her not to worry, that she was doing really well (she was) and that in no way was she to old (which is what she felt).
But regretfully she seems to have drifted away.

I mention this because the original poster may find themselves at time a little startled and maybe intimidated by the behaviour of some aikidoka.
21 year old boys are likely to be in the corner of a seminaar trying to bounce each other off the ceiling, but be aware that just because you don't ever feel that you could take the sort of pounding a teenager does shouldn't in anyway restrict your growth in aikido.

I mention this just to say that there may be times when you feel that you'll never be as good as 'person x' or you will never be as flexible as 'person y' or whatever, but remember aikido isn't ever a competion, it's there to be enjoyed and you'll learn at the speed that works for you and your body.

01-14-2005, 12:40 PM
I haven' had a chance to read any of the responses to this but here's my 2 cents.

I started when I was 32 which was about 5 months ago. The question is are you to old not to start?? I think there are many more benefits to Aikido than just self defense. It is something to relax the body and mind, build confidence and keep in shape. I am a software engineer so I need to do something active that relieves stress and keeps me in shape. The gym has on benefit, but Martial arts have many. If you think of it this way and just stick with it you can get healthy and one day all your training will make sense. It might hurt a little until you developed good ukemi. lol...

Rocky Izumi
01-15-2005, 06:33 PM
I have a number of students who have started in their 60s. I remember practicing with a Yudansha in Hawaii who started at the age of 65 after retirement..Many of my beginners are over 45.


P.S. You are not old until past 60 according to some definitions of "middle aged". I am not old. . . . . yet.


01-17-2005, 02:37 PM
For some reason this thread reminds me of something I read recently. It was an un-attributed quote that said: "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were".