I'm 15 and would like to start martial arts when I turn 16. I want a year to get myself in to really good shape before I start. One more question, what were you guys like when you started and what were the results after five years.

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    It's too late to start when you're dead, any time before that is good, obviously the sooner the better!
    – slugster
    Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 11:05
  • No age is "too late"; I only barely understand the thought process that makes someone think it might be. There's no sense in waiting until you're in "really good shape", either. Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 13:17
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    As for competitions : its not too late either, its actually a good age. You wont dominate junior years, but consider my case : I started at 5 years old, by 16 I was my country's champion and training 6 days a week, and by 20 I was burned out when I realized I still had 6 or 7 solid years of training ahead of me before the olympics ... so yea, 15 means you can have up to 10 years of training and you'll still be in your "prime" for the olympics or world championship (if such is your goal ). Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 15:48

10 Answers 10


I'm 15 and would like to start martial arts when I turn 16. I want a year to get myself in to really good shape before I start.

This is a terrible plan.

Find a gym and start training judo now. Find a proven strength program and start following it at the same time. Putting things off a year, most of the time, just means you're choosing not to do it. In the case of judo, even if you do start a year from now, you'll lose out on all the coordination and sport-specific conditioning that comes from ukemi and technique practice.

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    Completely agree with this, Dave. So many people put off doing martial arts because they believe they're not in shape enough to start. I think it comes from anxiety. They think they'll be laughed at or teased. It's not true. No beginner is expected to be able to walk into a martial arts school and be particularly good at anything the first day. Or even the first year. And the type of conditioning you can do on your own often doesn't translate well into the types of physical activities you do once you're in a martial art. So don't wait. Just do it. Commented Mar 14, 2015 at 13:25
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    I agree! Except about conditioning. Lots of people--most people--need remedial physical preparation before engaging in good hard training. Basic strength and mobility work can provide that. But that doesn't mean those people should wait, it means that martial arts schools should provide an on-ramp physical preparation program. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 16:44
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    When I started Karate, I had never done any fitness training at all. I nearly passed out from exhaustion in my second session, but I stuck with it, and within a few weeks could keep up with everyone else. Training in the martial art will get you fit enough to train in the martial art.
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 23:10
  • @MontyWild Teenagers, particularly teenage males, are better suited than just about any other population to adapt and thrive in response to physical stress of this sort. When someone who is 40 with kyphosis and degenerated joints and so inflexible they can't touch their toes tries to just dive into judo or hard-sparring karate the answer is often injury, not adaptation. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 0:27

Is 16 to[o] late of an age to start hapkido or judo?

It's a good age to start training... young enough to pick up flexibility, condition, strength, fitness etc. fairly easily, recover quickly between training sessions, but old enough not to be too frail or struggle to understand the subtleties of body mechanics, tactics, etc..

What were you guys like when you started and what were the results after five years?

I was 15 when I started training back in '86 - already quite athletic from tennis, cycling, and other sports.

A lot can change in five years... if you train hard and often you should obviously be in great shape in terms of strength, conditioning, reflexes, awareness, balance, flexibility, fitness - but maybe you are already so hard to say if that's a change. If you have a good instructor you should be quite capable at self defence. I was certainly glad I'd been training, or I wouldn't still be doing it....


Start now. Most places will let you take a class or two free if you are a newcomer. That being said don't limit yourself to just Judo or Hapkido. Give your local Brazilian Jujitsu,Karate,TKD,and Aikido schools a try. Work on finding the right "fit" for you and it will be a much more enjoyable experience.

PS Good luck and yes if you do find a good school you will be really, really sore. Sign of a good session :)


Honestly, you should just get out there and start. The best way to get into the shape you need to be in to be good at a martial art is to practice that martial art. It doesn't matter if you are a 200 lbs overweight person or a 30 lbs underweight skinny-fat person(me when I started), don't worry about being in shape to start, just start and the changes will happen with time. I've seen 30-year-olds in beginners classes with 14-year-olds and 60-year-olds. The age you start at doesn't really matter, as long as you START.

As for the second bit, I started out as a 5'9", 120 lbs guy trying to just get something cool under my belt, so to say, and five years later I was in love with what I was doing day in and day out. I sucked hard at first, but with practice, more practice, and even some more practice I got better. I will always be a student and I will always be practicing to be better. Don't compare yourself to anyone around you.


It doesn't matter how old you are or out of shape you are, just start and you will get into the shape you need to be to get better. As long as you practice you will improve and get into better shape. Don't compare yourself to anyone around you and don't try to be better than them but rather look at who you were yesterday and ask yourself "Am I better than that guy?"


Its never to late to start martial arts as a hobby. If you should have higher hopes to do that on a professional level, it depends a lot on which martial arts you want to do.

There are several cases in mixed martial arts where people became professionals, even though they started relatively late, even some of them with no prior martial arts expierence. Thats something ive noticed over the years in the sport of mma, and i think its pretty rare in the world of sports that people went on competing on the highest level with such a late start.

Few examples: Frank Shamrock directly started with MMA as a 19 year old, and became the UFC Champion. His brother Ken Shamrock also started in his early twenties with no prior martial arts experience, and also became highly succesfull.

Also within the recent generation there are a bunch of fighters who started late and still became very successfull.

The reason i mention this is not to let you think its easy to become a professional martial artist. Even the most athletic guy in the world wont get far without a lot of dedication and disciplne.

But just imagine what all those people achieved, allthough they started relatively late. And now imagine what you can achieve too, even if its not becoming a professional fighter, just think how adept and fit you can become if you start now.


Chuck Norris started martial arts at 19. Aside from the hype, he was actually a world champion. He did Judo and Jiu Jitsu too.


I started Muay Thai and boxing at 18, moved on to jiujitsu at 22, stopped everything for 8 years, started Taekwondo at 30, stopped everything again at 32, started MMA at 34. I'm almost 35 and still doing MMA. It's never too early or too late to start anything as long as you go just barely outside your own comfort level (as a motivator to keep improving) and keep at it

Edit, answer to the second part of your question:

Honestly, I've always been a bigger dude. Still am. I fight at heavyweight without cutting but with the right regimen I could be fighting at light heavy, maybe even middleweight. I was mainly a street brawler, picking fights all the time, before learning martial arts. Oddly enough, the more I learned how to fight the less I did it and now I only fight if it's sanctioned or life and death/self defense. Remember to always keep calm and try to talk/walk out of a situation before deciding to fight. Not only will it prevent a lawsuit for damages but you don't know what your potential opponent knows either


I've been training in Hap Ki Do for over three years and cross training in Judo for maybe 6 months or so, I'm currently 34. Don't worry about getting into shape before you start training, training along with a good diet and you'll get into shape in no time.

When I started Hap Ki Do, I was about 230-ish pounds, so quite out of shape, considering I'm about 5'7". With constant training and changing my diet, I managed to get myself down to 192 lbs. While that's not really great, I was happy considering that I hadn't been do that low in a long time. Due to quite a few terrible choices with my diet, my weight has started to go back up again. I've acknowledged that I need to get my diet back in check and as incentive to get my weight down and keep it there, I've decided that if I can get back down, I'm going to enter a Judo competition next summer to test myself.

There's no better time to start training. Many martial artists say that they wish that they had started training at a younger age. The older you get, harder arts such as Hap Ki Do, Judo, BJJ take more of a toll on your body. Start while you're young and you'll be more used to the abuse that training brings with it as you get older. To be fair, I started training in Tae Kwon Do when I was about 11 and moved onto Ju Jitsu at 17, but I still have issues with my knees, especially after a night or hard training.


I started Tang Soo Do at the age of 25 having never done any martial arts prior to that. In all honesty I've never been very active prior to that.

It is never "too late" to start practicing, but the earlier you get in on it the better for your body. I'm not a huge guy, not super muscular, nor am I fat. However 25 years of not really training or being physically fit prior to means I have to work a lot harder on things like flexibility. Not that I can't be as flexible as the next guy, I just have to work harder at it.

Flexibility doesn't just mean higher kicks but its balance, its control and it means a lot less soreness the next day.

As I've said my art is Tang Soo Do, but my master likes to incorporate many different things in the advanced classes and I get to play with judo throws and jiu-jitsu style grappling. If you want my 2-cents, starts sooner rather than later, float around a little bit try different arts and different schools and find the art that speaks to you. Just be respectful while you 'float around' and the proprietors of the different schools shouldn't mind to much, although I have met some art purist that don't like when a student cross trains in other arts.

Why put off until tomorrow what you can begin today.

  • "my art is Tang Soo Do, but my master likes to incorporate many different things in the advanced classes and I get to play with judo throws and jiu-jitsu style grappling" — as someone who used to do exactly this (in karate instead of TSD), take my word on it: this is not even remotely the same thing as experiencing these things in a judo or BJJ school. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 5:39
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    Oh I know, we've got a BJJ instructor (for another class in the same building) that loves to come play. Not that each style and each instructor in a style isn't at least a little different but its some degree of exposure nevertheless. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 18:31

I started Judo at 40 with my sons. Now i'm 1D and i keep training for 2D. We are numerous in my intitute in that case. And we participate contests for senior older than 40

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