Older adults are keener and keener to stay fit. They actively hunt for fresh methods to keep their bodies in shape and brains sharp, too. You might not think of combat sports as an option – but don’t rule them out. These activities can boost reflexes and build strength.

Remember, though, all these fight styles aren’t alike, particularly when it comes to the elderly’s preferences or needs. For those living in assisted living communities where safety is crucial, choosing combat sports gets tricky.

So, let’s dive into this topic a bit deeper. We’ll explore which combat sports could be best suited for our older generation in the following discussion.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi: The art of moving meditation

Tai Chi comes from China. It’s a martial art that people all over the world now love for its health perks. The focus here is on slow, smooth moves along with breath control and keeping your mind focused.

Here’s why it stands out: despite being classed as a combat sport, there is no direct fighting involved. That makes Tai Chi perfect for older folks. You can expect to see improvements in balance, flexibility, and heart health by practising this gentle exercise.

Also, if you’re into meditation, Tai Chi brings mental calmness while lowering stress levels. Are you worrying about joint pain? Don’t fret; there are no leaps or harsh contact, so even those struggling with arthritis can give it a go.

Judo takedown as a combat sport

Judo: Gentle throws and strategic groundwork

Judo, from Japan, is another martial art favoured by the older crowd. It’s mainly about grappling, like throws and controlling your opponent on the ground.

So what’s Judo all about? Simply put, you need to get your competitor down onto the mat. It’s not quite as daunting once you understand its core idea of “maximum effect with minimal effort.” This means strategy wins over strength. The carefully controlled falls learned in Judo also come in handy to prevent damage during accidental trips. 

With a trained instructor leading them gently through each move, this combat sport can be adapted for seniors, too. They can aim at refining their techniques or forms and even engage lightly in sparring sessions safely.

Boxing Glove

Boxing: A combat sport for fitness

Boxing might seem like a sport for the young. But older folks are now flocking to “fitness boxing” classes. These sessions don’t involve real sparring. They’re more about learning skills, moving swiftly, and training with bags or pads. Prepare yourselves, though. Workouts can get intense, but they boost heart health, strength, agility, and reflexes.

Do you have good instructors showing you how it’s done safely and tailored according to your personal abilities? Then, be ready for some adrenaline rush. Fitness boxing could just become an awesome way for seniors to keep fit on their own terms.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Gentle art on the mat

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ for short, is yet another grappling martial art. This shines when it comes to ground fighting. The aim here is to control your opponent using holds and locks. The good news is that you don’t need knockout punches or forceful throws. So many seniors give the thumbs up.

Like Judo, successful strategies in BJJ use leverage, which means even less powerful individuals can stand on their own against bigger rivals. What’s fun about most studios, too, are “rolling” sessions at controlled intensities. This ensures everyone can enjoy some safe action on the mat.


Age might limit some things, but that doesn’t mean seniors have to quit combat sports. With the right choice and tweaks, older folks can enjoy the physical or mental rewards these activities offer. Training at a local dojo or in care homes, there’s always one martial art form suitable for any eager senior. And if you’re looking for something different, then check out our article on senior bowling.