We get a lot of inquiries at The Academy that sound something like this:
“I’ve been interested in martial arts my entire life, but I never got into training. I’m in my sixties now…am I too old to train?”
The short, sweet, and emphatic answer is no! You are literally never too old to train. You are never too old to start. Age is simply not a factor, and there are many reasons why. The fact of the matter is that anyone, anywhere can be the target of an attack. In fact, there are segments of the population that represent preferred targets; sadly, the very young and the elderly frequently face threatening situations that those in middle-age do not. For this reason alone, a person is never too young or too old to learn how to defend him/herself. On the contrary, it’s imperative that those who are especially vulnerable to attack ensure that they pursue training to keep themselves safe.
Another question that we often encounter has to do with whether or not training is modified for participants in their late fifties and sixties. This is best answered with a bit of background information.
Krav Maga is a system that encompasses many techniques that are tied together by the fact that they are all based on natural reflexes. There is a set of curricula for each level. While the techniques are clear and standardized, and while they’re designed to be easily learned by everyone, it’s not realistic to expect that every person’s physiology and abilities are going to be identical. For this reason, there will be times that modification is necessary, and it’s definitely not just based on age.
As we age, if we are not engaged in physical activity, we tend to notice reductions in cardio-vascular endurance, flexibility, and muscle-mass. Certain processes slow down in the body, like collagen production, and we see changes in how quickly we recover and heal. If you are starting Krav Maga training as an older adult, and if it’s been a while since you were very active, then the number-one modification that you will have to make is approaching the training with greater respect for your body. It’s possible that you may have to “power walk” before you run in a warm-up, and you may find that it takes an extra week or two or three to reach your flexibility goals. Perhaps you may take a few seconds (or minutes!) longer to move from the ground to a standing position…to all of this, we say, so what? In the modern world, most children spend the majority of their time in front of glowing screens, and their flexibility is far worse than most adults’ who grew up during “active” generations. You may find, in your sixties and seventies, that you have a great deal to teach your grandchildren and younger Krav Maga participants about fitness.
At our studio, we welcome students of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, abilities, experience levels, and ages. You will always be pushed to improve, but you will never be pushed to perform beyond safe limits. As we said, it’s not just about differences in age. Sometimes, modifications need to be made because of previous injury, surgery, or even – unfortunately – previous experience with violence. Do attackers care if you are retired? Do they mind that you may just have had surgery? Obviously, a self-defence modality designed to keep everyone safe must be accessible to all of those who are at risk – not just athletes or performers. Modifications may very well be necessary, but they will be realistic and they will allow you to look after yourself on the street. In Krav Maga, that’s the primary concern. Making a technique look beautiful is a matter of aesthetics, not safety, and we are exclusively concerned with practicality.
If you have always wanted to learn to defend yourself but never had an opportunity get started, we encourage you to get in touch. Many Krav Maga students in their retirement years take inspiration from the founder of the discipline, Imi Lichtenfeld (Sde-Or), who was involved in the field into his eighties. Similarly, if there is an older member of your family who could benefit from physical and mental activity, we encourage you to consider Krav Maga as a dynamic opportunity to improve life-quality. It is never too late for one to walk in peace.