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Martial Arts For Midlife Women
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Move over, grasshopper. That new face at the dojo might just belong to your grandmother. Martial arts are enjoying greater popularity now than ever, with more and more students of all ages signing up to learn the basics of judo, karate, aikido and kung fu. And one of the fastest growing student groups is made up of women over 40. Why?

Martial arts offer a variety of benefits tailor made for midlife women. The menopausal years are fraught with life crises, changes, and, for many, a sense of loss. Women in midlife must deal with aging parents, maturing children, health issues and concerns about appearance and weight. They may be reevaluating relationships, jobs and self- identity. And though they’re changing, American attitudes toward women over 40 contribute to a sense of powerlessness and irrelevance. But this time – when women are freed of monthly miseries, rich with experience and self-knowledge – is a time of renewal, exploring new frontiers, and claiming a power that in youth often goes unnoticed.

The way of the warrior offers a way for women to regain this personal power by increasing physical and mental strength – benefits which go beyond the dojo and into everyday life. With levels ranging from extreme beginner to brown belt and beyond, the martial arts in all their forms provide a way for women of all fitness levels to challenge themselves, have fun and get fit.

Sound intriguing? Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking of giving it a try.

1.Know yourself. What discipline interests you most -- the flowing gestures of quigong, the intensity of karate, the meditative nature of aikido? Are you looking for self-defense strategies, a fitness regimen or something in between?

2.Research the options. In most cities martial arts classes can be offered through community colleges, private schools, or through private instruction. Classes are even offered at retirement centers. Consider your pocketbook, your current fitness level, and your willingness to commit to the time and the discipline of study.

2. Explore what’s available. Once you’ve decided on a discipline, shop for classes. Ask to visit and observe. Find out who the instructors are and what background they have. Talk to other students, if you can.

3.Take chances. If your first try isn’t what you hoped, try another discipline. Judo may not be right for you but batto-do, the Japanese sword, could be just what you’re looking for.

Midlife is a time of change, growth and reclaiming power and strength. For more and more women “of a certain age,” the discipline of martial arts can help.


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