Was Yoda Wrong?

Yoda was wrong when he said “Yes, too old to begin the training.”

Can you be too young or too old to start learning martial arts or self defense?

There is a difference between martial arts and self-defense, the answer to whether some one is too young or too old to start is easy to answer. No!! Start today!

Regardless of age, you need to start learning how to defend yourself.

Martial Arts or Self-Defense?

According to Wikipedia, Martial arts are codified systems and traditions of combat practices, which are practiced for a variety of reasons: self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, entertainment, as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development.

They also define Self-defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one’s property, or the well-being of another from harm.

You need to make a choice. Why do you want to do martial arts or self-defense? Or can you do both?

Popular Styles Of Martial Arts

Today will look at popular martial arts styles that are more sport related than focused on self-defense.

As mentioned above, martial arts styles are great for exercise, flexibility, and as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development or discipline.

Examples of this would be Taekwondo (TKD), Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), Judo, or Kickboxing. These are very good at what they are designed for.

TKD: it is designed for kicks, sparring, sport, and points.

BJJ: ground game and submission, primarily on the ground.

Judo: is a sport of throws and sweeps.

Kickboxing: great cardio, sport, and learn to throw punches and kicks.

These all provide great exercise and moves and combinations that can help you defend yourself. But none of them are designed to teach you self-defense. These are suitable for all ages. If you are five years old or older or you’re in your 50s or 60s you can benefit from these.

TKD: your flashy kicks my end the fight if your attacker is not expecting a high kick, jumping kick, or jumping spinning kicks. But, you learn to fight expecting to score points, not to live. This style also requires you to become very flexible and a lot of jumping and spinning kicks. This style usually focuses on kids and suffers from “McDojo” syndrome. Schools that are very “belt testing” focus. Belt tests that include stripes etc. and are done after set period of time and not based upon ability only.)

BJJ: this is great at submissions and joint locks etc. The issue is that in a real-life situation, the last place you want to be is on the ground. You don’t know who is going to possibly stomp on your head. I heard an account of a guy who is trained in BJ J that got into a scuffle outside of the bar. He quickly got his attacker on the ground, had a good mount, and was in control. What he didn’t know was that the attacker’s girlfriend came out to see what was going on and kicked him right in the head. His head was right at her knee height. It didn’t take her any training to teach him up and do some damage. The style is great for kids to seniors. You will get a good workout doing it. But you will need to learn kicks and punches.

Judo is also designed as a sport martial art. There are number of crates frozen locks you can do to someone. The problem is, judo does not teach you to strike. You need to know how to punch, kick, or use your elbows and knees.

Kickboxing helps you with cardio and punch kick combinations. But most of us, don’t wear boxing gloves around. This is probably best for teens and adults. Many gyms and fitness centers offer these types of classes. You don’t learn to grab and work in a clinch or against a weapon or grab. Typically your striking isn’t a problem. The problem is, you are not taught how to respond to someone choking you, putting you in a bear hug, or a full nelson. The problem is, what do you do if you are attacked like that?

All of the styles help give you a foundation. It is better to learn one of these than nothing. After you do these for a while, your proficiency in them should help you learn the other skills that you need to help you on the street.


To learn self defense, you’ll need to learn another form of martial arts has self defense techniques as part of the style. You could also go to a self defense system, such as Krav Maga. When you are in some of these systems, you won’t earn a belt, but you will learn how to strike fiercely and effectively. And remember: “A black belt only covers two inches of your ass. You have to cover the rest.’” -Royce Gracie

You’re never too old to start learning to defend yourself, since thugs look for easy victims. If you’re in shape and confident, you won’t be an easy target. Also, you are never too young. For kids, once they’re old enough for school, they can start in the martial arts as well.

  • http://www.thelittledesignlab.com Heather

    Question? For someone who is looking just to learn for self-defense purposes and has no knowledge of any of the above mentioned. Which marital art would you recommend?

  • http://20minuteblackbelt Eric


    Thanks for the question. I tried to answer that very question in the post after this one: http://20minuteblackbelt.com/3-questions-ask-joining-self-defense-school/

    It’s not so much which martial art is best for self-defense, but more about how the individual school teaches.

    My current style, Tai Chuan Do Karate, has 3 schools in Maryland. The school I attend is known for our fighting and self-defense skills. Another school is more known for their forms/katas. It’s the same style, but things are highlighted differently.