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I am a 14 year old female and I've always wanted to try taekwondo, however I am not the most flexible of people, and I am concerned to whether that will affect learning the sport in any way. I've also seen that the best people start at the ages under 10 years old, is it too late to start at the age of 14?

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    14 is right on time! So is 20. So is 30. So is ... :) – Steve Weigand Jun 8 at 14:01
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    A senegalese buddy in my year started at about 12-14, he could kick a basket ball hoop when he was about 16. – aliential Jun 9 at 1:20
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    I started with 42. Never too late. – Aganju Jun 9 at 4:39
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    "the best people start at the ages under 10" - that's certainly not a requirement, it simply means that starting younger gives you the most time to learn and improve (as is true for almost everything in life). – bta Jun 11 at 18:58
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Absolutely. I was 27ish when I took my first lessons, and was so inflexible that when I sat on the floor and stretched my leg out I could only reach halfway down my shin towards my foot. And the splits? Fuhgeddaboutit. At 14 you'll also have an inclination towards trying hard and doing your best, unlike, sadly, many kids under 12. TKD, probably like any other martial art or recreational activity, or learning a musical instrument, is a lot more fun the better you get at it. And if my dojang (Korean for "dojo" or school) is any indication, there is extremely little of the usual casual teen meanness, and a lot of supportive higher-rank students and instructors.

Go sit in the back of a few classes at various dojangs to get an idea of what they do. Choose a dojang that has been there for awhile, doesn't seem overwhelmed with the number of smaller unruly kids, keeps everybody on target, and has a level of sparring you're comfortable with. (Although it can be intimidating at first, sparring can become a lot of fun, so I'd advise you to push yourself a bit here.) Ask senior belts for advice on things you're having trouble with.

Your homework, which pays off bigtime, is 15 minutes of stretching... sit on the floor with one leg out straight, grab your ankle, and try to touch your forehead to your knee. Pull gently, but hold it. Do the other leg, stand up, walk around for a minute, and repeat - you'll go farther. For splits, it's easier if you have the leg of a sturdy dresser, or the edge of a doorframe, to pull yourself forward.

Good luck!

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  • Upvoted. I started at 21. I'll note that at 14, OP is likely to start with the "adult beginner" classes rather than the kids' classes. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jun 10 at 3:19
  • Yes, very possibly; my master does that around that age, depending on the maturity and size of the student. (Thanks for the upvote, woot!) – Amorphous Blob Jun 10 at 12:18
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Yes. Without a question.

I'm a Taekwon-Do instructor, and we have students join us from 5 years old through to 40/50+. It's a bit clich├ęd but you're really never too old to start, like some others have said as long as you're eager to learn and you try hard, you'll do fine.

I started Karate in my late teens when I joined university, and then Taekwondo in my mid twenties, so later than a lot of people. I may never go to the Olympics or anything of that level, but I've competed nationally and won plenty of medals, I've been able to take what I know and teach new students, and most importantly, I'm confident that I am able to defend myself and my loved ones should the situation ever occur.

I can't recommend starting enough, go along to your local class and give it a try!

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  • Oof, a year ago we had an influx of 4 year olds - almost killed me and the other more-than-occasional assistant instructor. And a 3 year old! Who listens and does what you ask like a 3-year-old!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!! – Amorphous Blob Jun 10 at 12:20
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Yep!

I'm going to back this up with a few points:

  • Learning anything, not only martial arts, is always best to be started at a young age. 14 is the age that many people would consider to be one of the best times to start because your brain is still in development.
  • It doesn't matter what martial art your talking about, I have met sever people that started when they were 40+ years old and still got their black belt. Especially impressive was a 70 year old man who got his BJJ black belt (getting a BJJ black belt takes significantly longer than other martial arts) and had started when he was 56.
  • Because you're young - even if you're 14 - Your brain will still be able to learn quicker than if you start when you're 25, so now is a better time to learn than later.

If you want to learn Taekwando, then by all means you should learn it! There are so many benefits (fitness, self defense training, confidence etc), and just because you didn't start when you were in 2nd grade does not mean that you won't be able to take advantage of them. I'm actually surprised that the person to ask a question about starting late would be a 14-year-old. Usually people who worry about that kind of thing are in their 40-50s.

To sum it up, you don't need to worry about being to old to learn something because you aren't, and really there's no such thing. Now go learn some kicks!

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Yes, it's fine (good, even!) to start at age 14.

It's a common concern from beginners that they do not have enough strength or fitness or flexibility to start martial arts. Do not worry about this; you train martial arts to acquire these attributes and improve yourself. It's never too late to train to improve yourself.

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I'm not involved in Taekwondo (so, answer from Taekwondo master should definitely be the best and accepted here), but the question is a bit wider, I think.

Short answer: from my opinion it is OK.

Results you gain depend on your amount of hard work and believing in yourself, not your age. Of course, it is easier to learn in your early ages - because of that many people consider, that it is "too late" for them.

Youngers may overwhelm you (at the start, at least) with their experience, but you would definitely suppress them with amount of hard work you do - just if you wish.

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  • Taekwondo is not Japanese, so saying "Taekwondo sensei" is is very cringe worthy. – Davor Jun 10 at 13:07
  • @Davor, I know it, would change now. Just thought about a word equivalent, but not found such. – user2501323 Jun 10 at 13:23
  • @Davor, edited, and mean is the same, but spirit is a bit another, I think. If you know some analogue, or something better than 'master' in that context, please, feel free to edit! – user2501323 Jun 10 at 13:24
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You can start Taekwondo at 14 or like me at 28. Your flexibility will improve with time and it will depend on your work not your age. Have seen people in their 60s being better than someone in their 10s or 20 not because they have been practicing for a long time but because of their commitment to improve a little every time. You will see the benefits and will be able to grasp them better than a 10yo kid.

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I started at 13. I got reasonably good before I gave it up around 16. So yes, you absolutely can. You might not be able to do the splits like the little kids can, but it won't stop you getting good, and you're still young enough that you can easily build decent flexibility.

By the way, our instructor was female, and she was awesome. Some people are just inspirational teachers, and us kids loved her. (Shout out to Christine who used to teach at the YMCA in Lytham St Annes, 30 years ago!) If you were hesitating because you're female, really don't.

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Absolutely! I was 14 when I started martial arts. Originally, I trained in karate for three years, but I moved to Taekwondo at 17 and earned my 1st Dan at 21.

That was some 30 years ago now, and I still train. My eldest daughter started at age 12.

What really matters is your attitude and commitment rather than your age.

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I started at 14 and continued throughout high school. I don't know how much it helped me learn to fight, but it started me in a habit of being physically active that's lasted me into my 30s and served me well. Plus it's cool to be able to say I'm a black belt, even if I probably can't kick past my waist anymore :)

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