Starting Martial Arts as an Adult

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It’s true that most elite martial artists tend to start training at a young age. Kids have the advantage of being supple, and it’s generally easier to pick things up.

But if you’re worried you’re too old to start martial arts, don’t be. Almost all of them are structured to allow you to start at any age and with any physical challenge. So, don’t let fears like these stop you – there’s a lot to be gained.

The Benefits

Although it can take a while to get the hang of things, it’s well worth it in the long run. You’ll build speed and flexibility. You’ll get leaner. You’ll gain confidence and increased physical ability. With most martial arts, you’ll also find you gain greater mental clarity and focus in life, generally. And of course, you’ll be able to hold your own in an unpleasant situation.

They’re also stimulating and motivating to commit to, not least because it’s easier to train with others. People who do martial arts tend to be dedicated, which helps to keep you on track. You’ll have goals and a clear route to achieve them. Martial arts are the nemesis of laziness and apathy.

The Challenges

First off, you will be sore. Oh yes. You’ll use muscles that you didn’t even know existed, even if you train regularly in other disciplines. The martial arts ‘shape’ is different to other sports, and your body will need to adjust. It’s not easy, but who wants easy?

Secondly, you have to give it time. So many people find a class, buy their uniform and pay for membership, only to come for a couple of weeks and then quit. Stick with it for at least three months, then things will click into place and you’ll start to see huge leaps in improvement.

While martial arts are very accessible, another challenge can be finding the right one for you. There are so many to choose from and as a newbie, you don’t know what to expect apart from what you see in films, and that’s usually a departure from reality.

So, the first thing to consider is, what are you looking to get out of it? Self-defence? A leaner physique? Something to commit to long-term? Martial arts are a very personal thing, but if you know what you want to get from it, finding the right one’s a lot easier.

What’s Your Motive?

If you’re wondering whether you have a good motive for starting, rest assured that there’s no one right reason. It could be something specific, like, “I’ve always wanted to learn self-defence”. Or something silly, like Stallone or Van Damme being your childhood heroes. It could be a combination of things.

But you’ll probably find that your motive for continuing to learn is different to your motivation for starting. You might start because you’re inspired by a role model, but you’ll continue because it becomes a way of life.

 A Bit of Background

Martial arts are fitness regimes that come from warrior traditions of various countries and cultures. Most of them exist on a spectrum. At one end are controlled exercises or choreographed movements, like drilling in set patterns of attacks and take downs. At the other is sparring and competing. Some will have both qualities, like MMA and BJJ.

Most martial arts are geared towards building:

  • Peak physical state
  • Self-defence skills
  • A calm, clear mind, and
  • The development of your character

The martial arts we teach Richmond Fitness Club all offer these basic benefits, so when it comes to choosing, a good piece of advice is to follow your gut instinct. If you feel a particular affinity for one of them, go with it. Martial arts are as much about your personality and preferences as they are anything else.

The Options at RFC


BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)

BJJ is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Commonly referred to as human chess, it combines an incredible workout with effective self-defence skills. Training consists of a warm-up (strength, conditioning and flexibility), followed by learning new techniques and finally, sparring, i.e. ‘light fighting’.

Beginner: Learn basic takedowns, submissions, sweeps and self-defence.

Intermediate: Learn more advanced attacks and how to link them into combinations.

Advanced: Learn advanced tournament techniques, counters and multiple combinations.

We offer both gi (kimono) no-gi classes The technique varies slightly, but it means you don’t have to spend extra cash on the uniform if you want to test the water before committing.



Best known for cardio training and hand speed, our boxing classes teach accurate technique, tailored to your ability. We also run supervised sparring.

Beginner: Learn how to throw and defend punches and the basic movements and tactics.

Intermediate: Learn how to combine punches and movement to execute your attacks and stifle your opponent’s offence. You’ll also learn some advanced techniques, like how to draw an attack from your opponent and capitalise on his reaction.

Advanced: Advanced tactics and tricks of the trade: shifts, double shifts, elaborate set-ups, sneaker punches etc.



You’ll learn and drill the latest moves and classic techniques of different kickboxing styles. You’ll also learn the classics – jump-rope, shadow-box, forward kicks, punches, and all the intricate footwork.

Beginner: Designed for those new to martial arts, or people returning from an extended period off who want to refresh their skills. You’ll learn the basics in a fun and energetic class.

Intermediate: Improve your technique, agility, strength, fitness, coordination and flexibility.

Advanced: For adults working towards their black belt through our grading syllabus. Classes are high-intensity, with sparring. You also have the option of competing on a national and international level.


K-1 and Muay Thai

K-1 is a combat sport that combines stand up techniques from Muay Thai, karate, taekwondo, kickboxing and boxing.

Beginner: How to throw and defend punches, kicks and knees effectively.

Intermediate: Study more advanced techniques and counters to your opponent’s attacks.

Advanced: Learn how to create significant openings and use the rules of the game to your advantage.



Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport that uses both striking and grappling techniques from a variety of other combat sports, both standing and on the ground.

Beginner: How to set up takedowns and submissions with strikes, and how to defend against attacks.

Intermediate: Link your striking, wrestling and submission attacks into combinations, plus more advanced techniques to defend and counter attacks.

Advanced: Learn game-planning and contingency strategies that improve your potential as a fighter.


A final piece of advice…

Whichever gym or dojo you choose, make sure you’re working with a legitimate coach.

There are a lot of dodgy Joes out there, but an authentic instructor will be upfront about their credentials. All our coaches are world-class fighters in their own right, and many have fought on world-famous stages like Bellator. Each of our BJJ instructors has trained with Roger Gracie – ten-time world BJJ champion and grandson of its founder, Carlos Gracie.
Any reputable dojo or gym will let you try a class before you sign up, but we offer a full week for free so you can test each one and see what suits you.

Come in and ask at reception!

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