Since I grew up in the Martial Arts, I have never started Taekwondo as an adult, but as a teacher I have taught many adults who started later in life. I have seen adults who are quite accomplished in their own realms of expertise step onto the mat and tie a white belt around their waist.
Regardless of how excited the beginner might seem, there is always anxiety. Learning a new activity is hard, doing it in front of others is harder, and learning a physical skill is harder yet. There can be a fear of capability, failure, or embarrassment. These are natural feelings, yet we need to work past them to learn. When we start a new activity, we will not be ready and we will make mistakes. We need to accept that we will make mistakes. As instructors it is our goal to help our students move past their failures and avoid embarrassment.
A good instructor will create an atmosphere and community where a student can grow. Growth is the key. It is an instructor’s goal to help a student learn Taekwondo and grow their capabilities. This type of growth is enhanced in a community where a student learns that it is safe to make mistakes. The martial arts community is very specific. While it is hierarchical, it is every senior student’s responsibility to help their junior and support them, as they were juniors once and are still juniors to the students above them. This community of shared experiences should create an atmosphere where everyone is conquering their own hurdles. Overtime as students become more proficient, and with a supportive community, they will become less concerned about making mistakes in front of others. This turns the student’s experience from one where they are afraid to fail to one where they are eager to learn.
As Taekwondo is a physical martial art and sport, students grow as athletes through practice. Each class itself is a workout, made up of exercises, kicking, punching, etc. The classes will then have the added benefit of increasing a students physical abilities, increasing their strength and stamina. Beyond just the classes itself, practicing martial arts should encourage students to make other lifestyle changes, adding more physical workouts to their routine and finding a healthier diet. Creating these changes in the other areas in their lives will also benefit their growth as Taekwondo students.
There is a mental benefit in learning a new skill. The complex movements, self defense and sparring applications students learn, help keep their mind agile. Learning Taekwondo forces students to analyze new ways to move and apply what they are learning. In many fitness settings, there is a high level of fitness exertion, but not the learning and application of new skills. This is what sets martial arts training apart.
Students not only move and learn to memorize techniques, but in applying techniques in application students develop understandings of distance, timing, accuracy, etc. These higher function skills go beyond just repetitive movement into true mental engagement.
I would invite any adult to try Taekwondo. Find an instructor and community that is welcoming and provides the safety to grow and experience something new.