Could anyone recommend a martial art to study that a middle aged person with a permanently sore lower back can do for fun & workout?

My karate days are over (can't kick as well now after injury). I'm a yellow belt, I'd like to be able to practice and enjoy leveling up. I'm open to styles, etc. I have had everyone say , try Tai Chi but I wasn't really into it.

Thanks for suggestions and ideas.


3 Answers 3


I understand where you're coming from. I'm 45. I've had knee problems and back injuries in the past.

The knee problems pretty much mean you can't kick, which is what you indicated. You can maybe do low height stomping kicks or anything that doesn't involve "snapping" your kick out really fast like karate or taekwondo would have you do.

There are a number of martial arts that involve no snapping kicks and only do low angle kicks. Classical jujitsu is one example. They do kicks and punches, but there's no "snap" to them, and their kicks are typically low or mid-section only. Instead of using a snap, they create power by accelerating the kick or punch gradually outward, continuously through the entire motion, fully connected through their whole body to the ground. There are many jujitsu styles out there you could look at.

Back pain is the next variable. I don't know enough about the nature of your back pain to know what would work for you. I think that's just something you're going to have to do some trial and error on. Try a bunch of different martial arts and see whether your back is still okay at the end of the day.

You can try stick fighting (kali / escrima). That's a lot of fun and fairly practical. What you learn with sticks applies pretty much equally to empty hand, knife, and machete.

I could literally list off dozens of martial arts at this point. I think in the end, you're just going to have to do a little research, figure out what styles are being taught near you, show up at those places, and observe some classes. Ask the instructors when you get there whether your injuries would preclude you from participating.

Hope that helps.

  • There is no mention of knee problems in the question.
    – mattm
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 3:28
  • @mattm Oh yeah, my brain just connected the dots there. Haha. Maybe it's some other injury besides the knee. On the plus side, what I recommended, classical jujitsu, usually has almost no emphasis on kicks. They have them, but it's not a big part of their curriculum. Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 15:02

Usually I would recommend BJJ for a low impact MA (due to there being no strikes), but if you have lower back issues that would be a bad idea. Plus it sounds like you have a lot of fun striking.

It sounds like you're a prime candidate for cardio kickboxing. You won't advance in belt levels, but you're also not going to be sparring or expected to throw strikes with perfect technique. Most MMA gyms have cardio kickboxing classes, otherwise some regular gyms have them as well.

There's nothing quite like wailing on a heavy bag or some mitts!


As per my recommendation to Help picking a martial art (avoiding head strikes), Capoeira might not be a bad style to check out, in particular Angola Capoeira, which tends to be slower and more strategic. The emphasis is on controlled steady movement, and some of the mestres were still doing sparring far into their 80s. Plus, well, it's a fun style, as much about the music and rhythm as about the fighting.

  • "Standard" Capoeira is more a game then MA... I don't know if the Angola style can fit into MA definition, although it's loads of fun. Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 14:54
  • @Alaychem: I disagree with you, but that gets into a lot of debate over Traditional Martial Arts and its applicability in actual fighting. Suffice to say that if you train to fight, you learn to fight. If you train for other reasons, you get your enjoyment there. Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 16:25

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