This is a common question that I get from people. Some parents are enrolling their kids and are worried if they are too young. We get request from parents with kids as young as 6 years old.
Then there are the folks from the senior category who are above 50’s to 60’s who are worry that they are the “odd” category or that they are not able to cope with the rigorous training.
I try to give my insights as a Karateka for 21 years and still going….
The general guideline for young kids is the age of 8. Why 8? from experience at this age, they are more “mature” and are more able to understand and comprehend the instructors. Thus in this way they benefit more as they progress.
This is also the age when they physique is much stronger and is in the growing stage. Thus it is a good timing. Younger ages tend to be weaker and are not able to follow the classes. Thus they may loose interest pretty soon.
However, then it all depends on the individual kid. 8 is just a guide. Get them to the kids class as the syllabus and training is catered for them. Don’t just join any class as training for different age groups are different due to their different physique and mental abilities. My advice is that they can join a few sessions of the class and let the instructor gauge them.
We have classes for kids, namely at our main dojo on Sundays 11am or in Mont Kiara on Saturdays 12noon.
As for the “Seniors”, I think the first question to ask yourself is what is your purpose of training Karate? Usually for seniors are more of social interaction as well as for exercise.
I think this is very important at this age because exercising has many health benefits. As for seniors, training of karate is not only about self defense. It is also a good form of physical training from head to toe. I find particularly good for seniors is the stretching exercises. It keeps our joints and limbs nimble and flexible. Our walking balance is easily maintained.
Do talk to your senseis (teacher in japanese) about your goals in training.
It is a common misconception that karate training has to be vigorous. It should not be vigorous. It should be serious and having the right attitude. If you are tired, just take a bow and rest. Senseis understand each person’s goals and ability. There is no compulsion.
Karate is not only about physical training, it is also a training of the mind (spirit) and technique. This is the embodiment of Shing Gi Tai. Shing is the mind, Gi is the technique while Tai is the body.
Thus you may see that physical training is represented by Tai which comes 3rd. Next time I will discuss more on this concept of Shing Gi Tai.
Sensei Sunny is 65 and is still training. Age in Karate training should not be a barrier. Importantly is the passion for the art and maintaining good health.
My advice to seniors who are concerned about this is go at your own comfortable pace.