What Martial Arts Can I Learn in my 20s, 30s, or 40s?

There are many different martial arts, and it can be a bit confusing knowing which ones are best for different age groups. You have probably wondered, “what martial arts can I learn in my 20s, 30s, or 40s?”.

The best martial arts for those in their 20s include Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Taekwondo. For practitioners in their 30s, Karate, Kung Fu, and Aikido work well. Those 40 and above may find Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu best, but that also works for other ages too.

But there’s a lot more to know.

After all, why do some martial arts work better for some ages and not others? And if you choose Muay Thai, for example, at age 50, what are the downsides?

Read on to discover more.

martial arts 20s 30s lg

Starting Martial Arts in Your 20s

Diving into martial arts in your 20s can be an exciting and transformative journey. This stage of life, buzzing with energy and flexibility, is ideal for exploring the physical and mental disciplines martial arts provide. Now, let’s dive into the unique aspects of beginning martial arts in this vibrant decade.

Best Martial Arts to Learn in Your 20s

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ): This grappling-based martial art is excellent for self-defense. BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a larger assailant.
  • Muay Thai: Known as “The Art of Eight Limbs”, this martial art uses the hands, feet, elbows, and knees as weapons. It’s excellent for physical conditioning and discipline.
  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): A combination of various disciplines, MMA is a full-contact combat sport that’s grown massively in popularity. It’s rigorous but rewarding.
  • Krav Maga: Developed for the military, this martial art focuses on real-world situations and practical defenses. It’s intense but superb for self-defense and physical fitness.

Remember, the ‘best’ martial art depends on your personal goals, so choose the one that speaks to you.

Tips for Beginning Martial Arts in Your 20s

Starting martial arts in your 20s can be an invigorating experience.

Here are some useful tips to guide you. First, find your ‘why’. Whether it’s fitness, self-defense, or spiritual growth, understanding your motive will keep you committed. Second, select a style that aligns with your goals and physical abilities.

Your 20s are a great time to try high-intensity martial arts but do your research and ensure it matches your interests. Third, choose a reputable dojo or training center with experienced instructors. Good guidance is crucial in learning proper techniques and avoiding injury. Last, be patient with your progress. Martial arts is a journey, not a destination.

Don’t rush the process, and enjoy the transformative journey you’re embarking on. It’s about personal growth, not just winning bouts.

Embarking on Martial Arts in Your 30s

Embarking on martial arts in your 30s offers a unique blend of challenges and rewards. Despite the intimidation factor, there’s no need to shy away. This age period brings life experience and patience to the mat, creating a rich landscape for martial arts exploration. Let’s delve into this compelling journey.

Best Martial Arts to Learn in Your 30s

  • Aikido: This Japanese martial art emphasizes the flow of movement and redirection of an opponent’s force. It’s great for improving balance and body control.
  • Kendo: An excellent martial art for discipline and focus, Kendo involves bamboo swordplay and traditional Japanese Samurai techniques.
  • Wing Chun: A Chinese martial art designed for close-range combat, Wing Chun is efficient and direct, making it perfect for self-defense.
  • Tai Chi: Often viewed as a martial art for the mind and body, Tai Chi involves slow, deliberate movements, deep breathing, and meditation.

Don’t let age discourage you. The martial art that fits you best aligns with your interests and fitness level.

Tips for Beginning Martial Arts in Your 30s

So, you’re ready to embark on your martial arts journey in your 30s.

Let’s go over some tips to help you navigate this new terrain. First, check in with your doctor to ensure your body is ready for the physical demands of martial arts. Next, be patient with your progress. You’re not 20 anymore, and your body may take a little longer to learn new moves or recover from intense training. Make sure to stay hydrated and maintain a nutritious diet to fuel your body. Remember, rest is just as important as training.

And lastly, enjoy the journey. Martial arts is about personal growth as much as it is about learning to throw a punch or execute a perfect kick.

Discovering Martial Arts in Your 40s

Uncovering the world of martial arts in your 40s can be a thrilling venture. While it may seem like a late start, it’s actually a perfect time to challenge your physical and mental boundaries. You’ve got the wisdom, now let’s see how martial arts can further enrich your life’s journey.

Best Martial Arts to Learn in Your 40s

  • Tai Chi: Known for its health benefits and meditative movements, Tai Chi is ideal for maintaining flexibility and balance.
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: This grappling-focused martial art emphasizes ground fighting and can be practiced with a variety of intensities.
  • Krav Maga: A practical, straightforward self-defense system that focuses on neutralizing threats as quickly as possible, it’s great for improving fitness and confidence.
  • Iaido: A Japanese martial art that involves the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword, striking an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard.

Each of these martial arts provides unique benefits. The key is to find the one that resonates with your personal goals and lifestyle.

Tips for Beginning Martial Arts in Your 40s

Stepping into the martial arts world in your 40s?

That’s awesome! A few guiding principles will help. To start, health and safety should be paramount. Have a full physical exam to ensure your body is up for the new challenge.

Choose a discipline that resonates with you and suits your physical capabilities, focusing more on technique than intensity.

Consistency is key, train regularly, but don’t overdo it – recovery is slower as we age. Invest in a great instructor who understands the needs of older beginners and can guide you safely. Remember to listen to your body, take rest days when needed, and ensure you’re eating a balanced diet. Most importantly, don’t rush, the beauty of martial arts is in the journey itself.

Can I Learn Taekwondo in My 20s?

Taekwondo works well for those in their 20s. Taekwondo has a focus on high powerful kicks. As such, it works better for those who are younger and more flexible.

You’re no longer a teenager and are more independent than you have ever been. The 20s is a great period to get started learning Taekwondo because you are psychologically and physically in great shape.

For most people, the twenties are the time they’re in the best shape they’ll ever be. Your curiosity about life is heightened, and you’re probably not yet “burdened” with responsibilities some adults often use as an excuse not to pursue their dreams.

Taekwondo, like other martial arts, is taught in a simple, slow, and deliberate manner. As such, it’s not difficult to grasp.

The instructors have also trained folks younger than you, in their twenties, and older. So they’ll easily help you if you were to confront any challenge as you learn Taekwondo.

But what does it entail? Is it just kicking?

Check out a recent article where I shared what Taekwondo is all about. It’s not ALL kicking. But kicking is a big part of it. But what else will you learn?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I Learn Taekwondo in My 30s?

Taekwondo also works well for those in their 30s. However, because Taekwondo is physically demanding, it is less ideal for those out of shape or with previous injuries.

And as we get older, we may not be as nimble as we used to be.

However, many folks have started in their 30s and even 40s. Naturally, you can too. If you haven’t been engaging in physical exercise or any martial art, you have to ease into it.

Start every training session with stretches and warm-ups. Ideally, you want to go to a quality dojo for you to be guided on the best way to learn. If you have prior experience of engaging in different martial arts, it would be a lot easier to ease into Taekwondo.

As you probably know, it offers many benefits that include the ability to defend yourself, being in better physical shape, and becoming more disciplined (which can increase the odds of being successful in other facets of life). Above all, it’s a lot of fun. Thanks to the endorphins that are released when we engage in demanding physical exercises.

Interested in learning about Taekwondo’s pros and cons before you commit?

Just click the link to read a recent article I published. I get into all the plusses and the 1 minus that would keep me from doing it or signing my daughters up for it.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can I Learn Karate in My 20s?

Learning Karate works well in your 20s. It’s true that it is ideal to start learning earlier, which is why many start Karate as children. But the 20s are still a great time to start.

I’ll be direct: You’re not too old.

Considering there are people who started in their 40s, you’re practically a baby. Okay, I exaggerate, but you know what I mean.

The 20s is a great time.

You’re not dependent on anyone and are probably settling into a career, or perhaps you’re about to get married or have just gotten married. Karate can enrich your life and help you become happier, more centered, and more driven.

It’ll help you entrench having routines in your life. Routines, as you probably know, are incredibly helpful in making it likely that we’ll achieve our goals.

Even if you’re not physically fit, learning Karate would help you get in shape. You’ll make new friends as you’ll be training with like-minded people several times each week. And if you have to defend yourself against a bully, you’d know how to crush them.

But why Karate? What are the pros of Karate compared to other arts?

In a recent article, I shared Karate’s advantages. I get into all of the pluses for practitioners of all ages. But I also cover the other aspect I really don’t like.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I Learn Karate in My 30s?

One can learn Karate in their 30s. A lot of people start learning in their thirties and even older. However, Karate and other “hard” martial arts can be hard on the joints over time which is why Karate is more commonly done at a younger age.

A key issue to consider is your goals and your age.

I’ll explain. Suppose someone wants to be one of the best in Karate and wishes to participate in world-class tournaments. It’s probably not wise for them to wait until they are in their thirties, right?

But, if your goal is a lot more modest, perhaps you want to learn how to defend yourself, get in better shape, and become more disciplined, then getting started now in your thirties is still a great time.

You are mature and more clarified about the goals you’re pursuing in life and why. So, you’re likely to have the capacity to be tenacious, which is required to be an awesome Karateka, as you’ll learn a lot of techniques and a way of seeing the world for years. But the rewards are immense.

Can it help you lose weight?

Find out in a recent article where I explained if it’s a good workout and how often you should practice it if you want to lose weight. But I also shared whether a heavier person can do Karate.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I Learn Muay Thai in My 30s?

Muay Thai can be done by practitioners in their 30s. But like other “hard” martial arts, it can be hard on the body over time. For this reason, Muay Thai is more common for those in their late teens and early 20s.

Muay Thai is incredibly physically demanding.

You’ve seen most Muay Thai fighters, right? They are almost always ripped. It takes a lot of work to be that way. But as you know, what we gain in life is always a reflection of what we put in.

So, if you don’t have any health condition, you can get started learning Muay Thai in your thirties. Just be prepared that it’s not going to be a walk in the park.

You’ll be taught effective skills that would increase your confidence and capacity to defend yourself. In fact, even if you mastered elbow and knee strikes alone, you’ll be able to hold your own if you have to defend yourself.

In addition to the core Muay Thai techniques you’ll learn, there are also drills that would help you become fit and healthier. Muay Thai is an intense full-body workout.

Can I Learn Muay Thai in My 40s?

Muay Thai can be practiced at any age, but only those in top shape should consider starting to train it in their 40s. It is incredibly physically demanding and hard on the joints.

But truth be told, if you haven’t been engaging in any martial art or workout before, you’ll probably find the first few training sessions almost unbearable. You’ll feel drained. And yet, you’ll also feel elated as endorphins course through you. So, it would be tough at the beginning, but in time, you’ll get the hang of it.

You might think there’s the likelihood that you’ll embarrass yourself. Not at all. Dojos are highly supportive environments where respect and harmony are highly valued. Who knows, you might even be an inspiring example to others.

The main thing you require is the right mindset, patience, and trusting the process.

Many folks in their 40s have also learned Muay Thai, and they’re better for it. It’s a fun way to reignite your life because it’s challenging, and you’ll meet others on the path.

As you know by now, some of life’s most rewarding decisions are the most challenging.

Can I Learn Kung Fu in My 20s?

Kung Fu works well for those in their 20s, especially some of the fighting styles of Kung Fu such as Praying Mantis or Drunken Boxing. Gentler styles of Kung Fu, such as Tai Chi, are appropriate for any age.

Consider that some folks start learning in their 30s, so you can learn it now.

In fact, apart from a negative mindset and serious health challenges, nothing ought to stop you. So, you shouldn’t even allow a negative mindset to stop you.

The reality is that you’re still young; that’s the honest truth. Think of some of the dudes that are masters of Kung Fu, they’re usually older, right? They are often guys in their 40s, 50s, and above. Some started leaning in their teens and others in their twenties. So, it’s not late.

But is it a skill you can learn at home?

Check out a recent article where I explained if it’s a skill you can teach yourself at home and how long it would take. But I also shared the best ways to learn it online.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can I Learn Kung Fu in My 30s?

Kung Fu works well for those in their 30s, especially some of the fighting styles of Kung Fu, such as Wing Chun. Gentler styles of Kung Fu, such as Tai Chi, are appropriate for any age.

Remember that Kung Fu is a catch-all term for all Chinese martial arts. So there are many different and unrelated martial arts that all get called that.

You have achieved some impressive feats at this age, and you know you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. Kung Fu is no exception. It is demanding, but it’s also a lot of fun.

It will help you to become more limber, faster, and stronger.

It’s a great way to work out your whole body as you alternately use the lower and upper parts of your body. You’ll learn powerful strikes and kicks, and overall, you’ll be equipped to defend yourself.

Can I Learn Kung Fu in My 40s?

Gentler styles of Kung Fu, such as Tai Chi, work well for those in their 40s. Aggressive fighting styles of Kung Fu can be hard on the body of those in their 40s as they require a greater degree of flexibility and endurance.

As we get older, certain changes in our bodies could slow down our metabolism leading to weight gain and weaker bones.

Learning Kung Fu is one of the fun ways to gradually improve your health while having a great time. You can choose the style you’re most comfortable with and may move to more demanding styles later.

It’s also a great way to network with like-minded professionals in your community.

As you probably know, a lot of people practice Kung Fu, and above all, you get to have skills that will help you defend yourself and your loved ones if there’s ever a need to.

If you have concerns about whether Kung Fu is safe, look no further. 

In a recent article I published, I shared which style of Kung Fu is the safest and if Wing Chun is safer than Karate. But I also shared if Kung Fu is healthy.

Just click the link to read it on my site.


In the article, we learned about different martial arts that are ideal in your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

We learned whether these age groups could learn Taekwondo, Karate, Muay Thai, and Kung Fu. And we talked about some of the downsides to learning certain martial arts later in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What age is best to start Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be started as young as ages 4-6, but the ideal age is 10 to 14. Unlike many martial arts, BJJ is also ideal for those in their 40s, 50s, and above.

The reason I say that comes from Rener Gracie. Rener (pronounced Hener if you don’t know him) is one of the esteemed Gracie family members and keeps Gracie Jiu-Jitsu alive on his YouTube channel.

I heard him talking once about how BJJ was the martial art you retire into.

What he meant was that as many martial artists from other arts get older, they often switch to BJJ.

The reason is simple. It’s not focused on punches and kicks, which, over time, can be very destructive to the joints, knees, and other body parts. Now BJJ is quite physically demanding. But it’s a healthy demand as opposed to one that sometimes leaves older practitioners limping or (in some cases) needing surgery.

Is 20 too old to start karate?

Absolutely not! Starting karate at 20 is in no way too late.

In fact, many successful martial artists have begun their training in their 20s. At this age, you’re likely at peak physical strength, dexterity, and endurance. Additionally, being an adult may give you a greater understanding of the discipline and philosophy behind karate, as compared to younger students. It’s important, however, to maintain a humble attitude, be patient with your progress, and enjoy the process.

Everyone’s journey in martial arts is unique and it’s never too late to begin yours. It’s about personal growth, not just the mastery of techniques. Remember, the key to success in any martial art, including karate, is consistency and commitment.

While I have practiced martial arts my whole life, I didn’t get serious about it until I was in my 40s.

How old is too old to start martial arts?

There’s no definitive age limit for starting martial arts.

It’s all about your health, fitness level, and determination. Numerous martial arts styles are adaptable to different ages and physical capabilities, including those well into their senior years.

Factors like flexibility, endurance, and strength may take longer to build as you age, but it’s not impossible. Tai Chi, for instance, is often recommended for older adults due to its gentle movements and low impact on joints. Some martial arts schools even offer classes specifically designed for older adults. So, it’s never really “too late” to start martial arts.

The most crucial aspect is to listen to your body, start slow, and progressively increase intensity. Always consult a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.

The one thing I’m certain of though is “movement is life”. Stop moving and your body will suffer. So whether it’s walking, Tai Chi, or yoga, or something more strenuous, find some way to move every day.

Image by inna mikitas from Pixabay

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