By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, June 8, 2005.

Most age levels should not be a consideration for those who wish to participate in the Martial Arts. I would say that the range is very wide, but there should be a careful evaluation starting at the age of three and working on up to middle age and senior years. The reason for this is to identify if the person is ready or healthy enough to be engaging in the Martial Arts. Any person setting their mind to accomplishing something can accomplish anything, so it really begins with the mindset of the individual.

A child at three must be able to move his body with confidence, and have the mental awareness to follow directions. All three-year-olds are not all capable of these functions, so a test must be done to identify whether they can to some degree duplicate the motions. A child's body is still growing, so they don't have the strength, the endurance, and mental capability that you would expect out of an adult. Their tiny bodies can easily become overwhelmed if too much is asked of them to perform. Attention units are dispersed literally everywhere because of their hunger to learn everything about their environment. In order for them to learn, they must have enough attention units focused on a specific activity. This requires interest. If interest does not exist for the activity, they will not have the required attention units to learn it.

Of course, patience from the instructor and the parents must exist for any results to occur. There has to be a combination of both because it will cause problems. If an instructor cannot be patient enough to teach, he should not be in the business of teaching. He will not be able to get the job done. If the parents are impatient, they will not give the instructor enough time to get results. It does take time, and every individual has their own timetable. People progress at their own rates, and an individual cannot be compared against another individual.

Adults who participate in the Martial Arts must be patient with the process. There are so many factors that can make the process longer or shorter for an adult learning this activity that one should not put so much consideration into those factors because it really depends on their willingness to do what it takes and have the mental fortitude to make it.

Middle-aged adults between the ages of 40-50 must examine their willingness to do what it takes, and the condition their body is in presently. These are important factors. Obviously, if a person is not willing to do what it takes, then he is not prepared to train. If a person's physical condition is so deteriorated, it may take some time to repair the body with good nutrition and good exercise before one could reap the benefits of training. There has to be a gradient of things that must be put in so that a person does not get overwhelmed by the process.

Seniors between the ages of 60 and above generally have more physical disabilities. Depending on how well they took care of their bodies there could be atrophying of the muscles, arthritis, osteoporosis, and a whole host of other ailments. It would be necessary to seek a doctor's approval before engaging in the Martial Arts. The training would take much longer because of the condition of the body, but where there is a will, there is a way.

Most people can involve themselves in the Martial Arts, but everyone must evaluate where they are at in terms of their physical condition and their willingness to do what it takes. It can be done, but there may be some steps that must be taken in order to make their training more productive and less overwhelming. It will take patience from the instructor, the parents, and the practitioner. If you decide you can do it, you can.