You’re hooked! You’ve been bitten by the MMA bug. You want to fight, but before you find a gym, buy some gear, and begin training you’ll ask yourself…

Can I Really Do This?

I don’t know about you, but IMMEDIATELY after I decided I wanted to box I began thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t:

  • I’m way too old to start
  • There’s no way I’m tough enough
  • Am I physically gifted enough?

These are some fairly common concerns that could derail anyone’s attempt to begin MMA.

So how do we get past them?

Let’s take a look at each and I’ll tell you how I was able to get over the hump.

Are You Too Old?

Even at 22 I was genuinely concerned that I was starting too late.

I know that’s relatively young, but I don’t want to be past my physical prime by the time I’ve trained enough to be any good.

So to make me feel better I sought out previous success stories. Their stories had to be similar to mine in order give me the confidence I needed psychologically to take the leap.

Here’s the criteria I used:

  • No prior training or experience
  • Started at an older age
  • Had success

I found two. Heavyweight Tony ”The Tiger” Thompson and lightweight Nate Campbell. Both were professional boxers that started after the age of 25 and eventually reached title fights (Nate Campbell won his).

That’s really all I needed to know.

But before we move on…

What about MMA?

Randy Couture, Vince Coleman, Dan Henderson, etc.

Lots of guys are performing a high level in their late 30’s and early 40’s.

Now I’m not suggesting you start training MMA at 40 with the intention of fighting competitively, but I do think you still have a shot if you start by your early 30’s.

Sure, the odds are against you, but it’s been done before and anything’s possible.

Are you tough enough?

Most people relate fighting to pain, and they’d be right because that’s the point.

I suppose being tough is how much of that pain you can endure.

But it doesn’t Have to be about that.

Because fighting is also about the avoidance of pain.

Or in other words, defense.

I swear to god every place I’ve ever trained, and I mean it…every place and every instructor will always start with offense first.

That’s great and all, but after taking a few beatings I realized maybe I should pay more attention to defense.

And guess what? I got my ass kicked a lot less.

Don’t worry about whether you’re tough enough. Just focus on building a strong defensive foundation first.

That means slips, parries, and blocks before punches. That means checking kicks before throwing them. That means sprawls before takedowns. That means escapes and sweeps before submissions.

You get the idea.

While fighting will always require a certain amount of toughness to participate you won’t have to find out how tough you really are if you never get hit.

Just ask Lyoto and Anderson.

You Have Physical Limitations?

So does everybody else bro.

The combative sports (MMA, Boxing, Muay Thai, BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, Kickboxing, etc.) are great because they’re the only sports in the world that try to make it fair competitively.

Unlike football, baseball, and basketball the combative sports and mixed martial arts in particular, have weight classes.

That means you get to fight against someone who is of similar size, and strength (within reason).

So if you’re 5’5”, 135 lbs, run a 5.5 40, have a 2 inch vertical leap, and can’t bench your body weight you ain’t going to play pro football, baseball, or basketball, but you sure can be the best pound for pound fighter in the world.

Athleticism, speed, and power matter…but not nearly as much as they do in other sports.

Fighting is about leverage, technique, and strategy.

And the cool thing about mixed martial arts in particular is that there is a style that suits everybody’s strengths and a way to use that style to exploit everybody else’s weaknesses.

Whatever apprehension I had about beginning MMA after boxing vanished once I realized those very things.

Can you really do this?

For all the people that are going to tell you that you can’t do this, I’m here to tell you that you can.

I hope I can too.