For some of us this journey begins at about 4 years of age when our parents start exposing us to new activities. For others the trek may begin later in life as a mature adult, retired from the work force, with a little more time for personal endeavors. In between there are a countless number who will embark on a mission of self-improvement in the martial arts at various points in life.
In my experience as a volunteer TaeKwonDo instructor for over 8 years, I can honestly say that the answer for most youth is a range between 3 to 5 years of age depending on personality. To get kids involved with martial arts at a young age is very beneficial when they are enrolled in good programs. For more about the benefits of martial arts for kids read my article entitled "Did You Know?: Kids Benefit From Martial Arts"
And as for any adult, the answer is always right now.
Martial arts programs should challenge you and push you to improve but not break you in half while doing so. Many people worry about getting hurt or not being able to go at the pace of everyone else during a session or class. This is an unnecessary worry because martial arts, is all about self-improvement and in order to improve you have to start from some point.
If you decide to enroll in a class and cannot keep up, so what! The fast pace police aren't going to arrest you and lock you up. Step aside, gain your breath, and get back in there.
You should look at a few disciplines and maybe even try them out when schools offer a free trial period. Ask questions, observe classes before attending and talk to students in those classes so you can decide what art is right for you.
Break Out Of That Routine!
Oh how many times I have heard the story of when someone will begin training in the martial arts just as soon as they get themselves situated. “Well I will join as soon as I get in shape so I don’t feel like I can’t keep up” or “Soon I am going to start because I have always thought about it” or “I want to begin but it just seems that I will not know what I am doing and will feel out of place”. Well guess what?... Yeah you may feel out of place or maybe you won’t be able to keep up when the class trains intensively and maybe you will never get perfectly situated.
When should someone get started in something they are interested in?... well seems to me the answer is right now! Will any of us really get all of our ducks in a row so we feel perfectly comfortable doing something? For most of us the answer is no. So it makes logical sense to conclude that while you want to feel comfortable about what you are doing, sometimes a person must leave their comfort zone in order to do it. All my life I have been rewarded the greatest once I have left my comfort zone to reach out and achieve.
The martial art of TaeKwonDo was no different for me when it came to leaving my comfort zone. I was not prepared for the training, I did not have my life completely situated and I had no idea what I was doing. Starting at the age of 32 Years old I had no clue what to expect or how embarrassed I may be trying to learn in a group situation with people I did not know.
Once that comfort zone was left and I actually committed to training, no matter the potential embarrassment or insecurities I may have had, I never looked back and that comfort zone just grew to encompass this new found lifestyle. I think many individuals forget that as they watch a class or witness some demonstration of martial arts no matter what style, the practitioners they are watching at some point did not know what they were doing either.
You have to start somewhere in order to get anywhere. All practitioners in the martial arts at some point did not know what they know or could not do what they do. Those individuals started somewhere and learned the skills that made them who you see today. Rarely will you find a good martial artist who will not have stories of embarrassing moments while training or maybe a list of insecurities they had to overcome through the process. No one is perfect! So.. stop reading this article and begin your new lifestyle before you end up one of those people who like to tell stories about all the things they could have done.