Pete Rindal has been an active member of this community since he first found us. He contacted me almost immediately after finding Martial Arts Over 40, and started sharing his story with me. He’s actually the inspiration behind the Readers’ Stories section of this site, because I realized that I only have one perspective of middle-aged life in the martial arts, having started Taekwon-Do in my 20s. Others like Pete didn’t get started until their 40s.
Pete’s just beginning his martial arts journey. Here’s his story so far:
I would guess that most of the people reading through this website have had a love of the martial arts for years. Many may want to continue learning more about them whether it’s through watching movies, reading, or maybe even giving it a try; it’s never too late! Others may wonder what it would be like to start training in martial arts at an older age as I did.
I too love the martial arts and my first memories started at a very young age. I remember when my mother used to drive me 35 miles to practice when I was only 12 years old. I was happy that she did because I was eager to get started and I listened to everything the instructor told me. I used to practice consistently at home thinking I was Bruce Lee.
Eventually the drive became too much with all the other duties she had at the time so my training was short lived. I continued to watch movies and read magazines until I reached my early twenties. At that time I signed up for lessons again at a dojo in the same town that I worked in. My intentions were to stop there after work on my way home.
I enjoyed the classes very much but I soon ran into trouble making it to class with the hours I was expected to work. Needless to say I ended up missing too many classes so I had to again step away. So as always I continued reading and watching movies along with the latest craze-mixed martial arts fighting.
At age 45 I have worked my way up the ladder to a comfortable office job with great hours. I have moved closer to the big city where some of the best schools are located and now I have ample time to attend a great martial arts school; it’s now or never.
The first thing I decided to do is to research the local schools which consisted of several different martial arts styles and instructors. I didn’t know for sure which style I was looking for but I had an idea of what I wanted to get from the classes. I wanted to learn how defend myself, get in shape, and hopefully increase my self-confidence along the way.
I settled on a school that focused on the styles of Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do (One Tree Martial Arts). The instructors weren’t so interested in teaching the “showy” arts as they were in teaching you the meat and potatoes of defending yourself. It was settled, I had picked the school that I felt was right for me and signed up.
My goal at that time was to start at the beginning of the following month which gave me about 3 weeks to start getting myself back into shape. The first thing I did was attack the treadmill with a vengeance and promptly got tendonitis in my knee; game over for a few weeks. It was at that time that I realized my brain was still 25 years old but my body really was 45 whether I liked it or not.
While I took the time to recover I didn’t think about quitting, I thought about a different plan of attack that would ease my body back into shape. I did my share of research and developed a plan consisting of stretching and light weight training that so far has worked out well for me. It has been eight weeks since my injury and my knee is doing very well. At my age both healing and progress comes a little slower, but it does come and the rewards are great.
At the first day of training I remember being very excited about getting started until I got to the entry door of the dojo. I looked in and watched mainly younger people bouncing around like kangaroos. For a moment I thought to myself “I can’t do that.” I stood there at the door for a few minutes and said again, “it’s now or never”. I walked in feeling very intimidated and out of place but incredibly that only lasted a matter of seconds.
After I removed my shoes I was immediately greeting by one of the instructors. I couldn’t help but feel somewhat in awe as he walked up to me. He was wearing a black Gi with lettering and patches from his accomplishments along with a much worn and weathered black belt around his waist. I could only imagine what knew about the martial arts and what he could do to me if I tried to poke him in the nose.
After our greeting I was showed to the dressing room where I changed into my new white and somewhat stiff Gi. The first thing that I learned was how to tie my white belt. A sense of pride came over me at that time because I realized I was finally here getting ready to train and I was actually wearing a belt for the first time.
What I thought would be an intimidating day at training turned out to be very informative and fun. There were several other white belts in class that were just as nervous as I was but the instructor kept us calm and comfortable by making it fun. It was amazing to find out that their stories about getting started were very similar to mine even if there was an age difference.
After attending classes for a few weeks I also realized that there were others my age in class and not just younger kids. The upper belts had several students my age and I received a lot of encouragement from them while they talked about their journey. I watched what they could do and realized that I too could do the same thing with a little time and practice.
Since my first days of getting started I have set some short term goals; two of which are to attend class at least 3 times a week and also practice at home twice a week while I work toward my yellow belt.
I have been training for four weeks now and have already experienced weight loss thanks to eating better and exercising, less aching in my joints, and better flexibility. All of this combined gives me a better attitude and increases my self-confidence. I have met some very nice people with goals similar to mine which gives me motivation to keep going.
I would highly recommend that if you have even the slightest interest in giving martial arts training a try, DO IT!! The benefits are worth it!