Anyone started late in life?

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Ginsu Warrior, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    First post. <waves to everyone>

    Has anyone here started training later in life - like 40s? Just curious, because I'm starting in the Bujinkan next week at the ripe old age of 44, and I'm sort of wondering if I'll be able to get beyond kyu before I'm ready to start drawing Social Security. :confused:

    I was an 80s ninja boom teenager and was (in my own estimation) pretty knowledgeable about ninjutsu, having completely absorbed and memorized all of Stephen Hayes' books and the usual magazines of the day. But in those days, the only options for actual training in the US were Dayton or Atlanta, neither of which was close to me. There was nowhere for me to go and train, and so I was confined to reading books and playing with katana and shuriken in the back yard. When I got into my 20s, I got busy with other things in life and pretty much left it alone until now, although I did always maintain a passing interest in it.

    I've decided that adulthood doesn't just mean growing up - it means also having the money and resources to do all the cool stuff I said I was going to do as a kid but couldn't. So I've started working out like a madman to get myself back in shape, dropped a bunch of weight, packed on a fair bit of muscle, and I feel like I'm in my 20s again (although I'm not foolish enough to believe it!). I've also been re-reading all of the Hayes books to refresh my memory and start learning the philosophy and terminology again, and I've been doing a lot of research on forums like these to find out what's happened in the last 25 years (what a mess!) and get the lay of the land. I've found a dojo and a sensei that I feel comfortable with, although it's a 2 hour drive each way that I plan to make once a week, maybe twice if I can.

    My wife and daughter think I'm nuts. My 13-year-old daughter thinks I should also find Gotham City and study with Batman while I'm at it. It's entirely possible that this is my mid-life crisis, but I figure it's both cheaper and healthier than buying a Corvette and getting a girlfriend - and a divorce. :angelic:

    Any advice from the seasoned members?
     
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  2. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    First off your age is and should not be a problem. Just take it slow, learn the basics and go from there.

    Secondly, take anything you read from the Stephen Hayes book's with a grain of salt. I am glad you found a dojo and hope that it is affiliated with one of the X-Kan's either with the Bujinkan, Jinenkan or Genbukan. Those would be the only organizations I would recommend!

    Good luck and enjoy the ride!
     
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  3. Transk53

    Transk53 The Dark Often Prevails

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    I am not a seasoned member. However if I may, we all get to an age where we like to make believe we are 18 again. Why not :)
     
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  4. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    Yes, it's a Bujinkan dojo. I did my homework and honestly felt that Genbukan would probably have been a better fit for me because I personally like more structure than Bujinkan has, but there were no Genbukan dojos even remotely close to me. I feel comfortable with the dojo and sensei that I have chosen, though. I checked him out and he is a well-credentialed rokudan, having trained with Soke some, and I went and observed a class before committing. There was one other that was a little closer to me, but I just didn't feel good about that group.

    Re: Hayes. I know it's something of a sore subject and don't want to open a can of worms, but could you clarify that a bit? I realize that he has fallen severely out of favor in the X-kan world due to the politics of the situation, and I get that books are necessarily incomplete by their nature, but are you saying that his books are incorrect, or that the teachings have changed since he wrote? Or both?
     
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  5. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    No, all I am saying in regards to Stephen Hayes books is that he had just a little bit of training time in when he wrote them. So they are obviously filled with errors and also with things that were how shall we put it great stories to fill the space. Take just for instance the Godai and his interpretation and application of it. It is a counting system and in the X-Kans has no basis for what he wrote it as. It was made up by him. Now, I do not know Stephen though I do know some first generation people that trained with him. They have nothing but good things to say about his taijutsu. So I am not disparaging him and wish him the best in life and in his training. Just that he was a young practitioner in a very old system writing books.

    Here is a post written by a long time Japanese resident discussing just the Godai: BudoSeek Martial Arts Community - Get Rid of the Godai Part 1

    Though, understand that none of this has bearing on your soon to commence training and since you have found a Bujinkan Dojo with a teacher linked to Japan I am sure you will enjoy your training! Good luck!
     
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  6. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Don't sweat your age. Go and have fun! Do respect your body though; you don't bounce back like 20-something does... I'm not saying don't train -- just realize that you have some limits and don't try to keep up with anyone else. Concentrate on your own training.

    As to Hayes... I think a fair statement is that he drew a lot of attention at a time when he had limited knowledge, and I suspect he felt pressured to fill in the gaps sometimes. I think where his training has gone also reflects his own interests and personal growth which may not be exactly in line with the Bujinkan's.
     
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  7. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    Wow, that's a very eye-opening article. I'm vaguely familiar with Don just through forum postings and such that I've stumbled across in the course of my research, and he seems like a very well-informed guy. I guess I'm exactly that guy he's talking about - that 80s teenager looking for the Jedi knights.

    I suppose I just got my first lesson, and I haven't even stepped on the mat yet. :eek:
     
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  8. warriorArt

    warriorArt White Belt

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    Thanks to Brian for posting the budoseek article, which also linked to the 1981 BB Magazine Hayes article referencing the Godai. Very enlightening.

    As a newcomer to the art (one year in), and this being the first art I have studied, it is interesting (and a bit sad) to see the Hayes v. Soke drama. I'll stay as removed as I can from that, while still learning everything I can.

    To the original post: As far as age goes, go for it!
     
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  9. BujinBos

    BujinBos Yellow Belt

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    The 80’s ninja boom was a fun time indeed. I was lucky enough to have a friend who got me into training during that time. We had a teacher within the hour drive mark and my friends mom was kind enough to drive us there. Our teacher Tim had his teacher Bud Malmstrom here for a couple of seminars too. We even made it out to Ohio for a SOI Ninja Festival which was very cool. For the youngster that I was, seeing Steven was a big deal, and of course training with Manaka Sensei blew my mind.


    I was so into it in my teens and early 20’s but school and then start of my career put training at the dojo on hold for the better part of a decade. Solo practice, a seminar and class here or there, was all I could do. Eventually like you I decided training needed to be part of my life again. I found myself back in the dojo and continue now into my 40’s. Don’t think it is too late or that you cannot have all the cool training experiences that you have dreamt of. I’ve been to many seminars with senior instructors from all over the globe and have made the trip to Japan several times as well. You can do this and more. Just say yes. Nothing is out of reach.


    As already said, take your time learning. Go ahead and push yourself, but pay attention to your body and don’t wreck yourself. Remember what we practice is a martial art used to damage others. We don’t want to damage ourselves or others in the dojo though.


    Good luck and this will be an exciting time for you.
     
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  10. Fritz

    Fritz Yellow Belt

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    Sounds like you have done your homework checking out the class and all.

    I'd second going with your limitations and knowing when certain parts of the training might require you to go a bit slower.

    An observation I've seen over the years with "older" people in training, say 30+ years old is that their progress in training can and often be quite faster and more fluid then they younger 20+ year old guys. I think this is for many due to the place where they are in life- settled, ready to really dig in and commit to training, focused on success, etc. vs. a younger person who still might be putting other key blocks into place in their lives- school, establishing themselves at a trade or work , etc.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    Ugh. Well, this week certainly hasn't gone the way I had intended. Between a bad tire on my car and an ice storm, I've ended up missing both classes this week and it will be next week before I can actually begin my training. Not a good start for sure. So instead, I've spent some time reading Don Roley's informative blog since his name came up, as well as trying to get ahead of the curve a little by getting familiar with some basic kamae and san shin no kata. Everything I've read suggests that san shin is pretty much the most basic starting point in taijutsu, so I figured that's some fairly decent homework in lieu of class. Maybe next week will be more productive.
     
  12. althaur

    althaur Orange Belt

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    Good luck with your new endeavor! There are plenty of people that start up later on in life. Two of my students are brand new and both in their mid-forties. It's never too late to start. Have fun.
     
  13. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    So I have a question for those of you who have been around for a while. I'm going to ask Sensei about this first chance I get to pull him aside privately, but it's hard to find a good time to really talk one on one. I'm just curious to know if my experience mirrors others starting out.

    The almost universal advice I've gotten from everyone I've spoken to is, "focus on the fundamentals," which seems like pretty good advice. I've been training for about 3 weeks now, and almost all of our sessions have been spent practicing techniques that are more advanced than I feel I am ready for without a solid foundation - advanced variations of ura gyaku, ganseke nage, cross grabs, and others. I'm having trouble getting my head around some of these techniques because I feel that my fundamentals are not sound, and I'm concerned that I may be developing bad habits by performing these techniques poorly before I'm ready. I've also been assigned a couple of times to some training partners that I feel don't have a productive attitude to training, and that doesn't help, either.

    Just curious - is this the way students normally begin in the Bujinkan, and is it common for new students to feel this way? Sensei did give me a stripe last night, so obviously he thinks I'm doing something right, but it's just a little confusing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  14. Instructor

    Instructor Master Black Belt

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    Learning martial arts is a lifelong endeavor and not every lesson is found in the dojo. Hang in there!
     
  15. BujinBos

    BujinBos Yellow Belt

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    From what I have seen it is common for all experience levels to be in a single class. Some folks have beginner classes and some don’t. With those that don’t, the beginner works at their level, while the senior students work at theirs.

    At three weeks in, you have only just begun and yes, you will be stretching your boundaries constantly. Do your best to observe your seniors and work at the practice.

    Consider practicing outside of class time. It does not have to be a long set amount of time. Five or ten minutes when you can is good. Simply practice standing in hicho for balance while you make a meal is beneficial.

    I would say basics for solo practice would include:

    Ukemi – to be able to receive the technique

    Sanshin no kata – basics of movement, uke nagashi and striking.

    These are easily practiced alone and do not require hours at a time.


    As always, ask your teacher for what you should work on.


    Have fun.
     
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  16. Ginsu Warrior

    Ginsu Warrior White Belt

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    So quick update... I'm still hanging in there, but my progress has not been as quick as I had hoped due mainly to difficulty in making the long drive to my dojo. Four hours on the road twice a week is tough, especially with a job as demanding as mine. However, I've moved to kukyu now and hope to test for hachikyu soon. I'm feeling a little more comfortable with the training style as I've continued to work on my kihon happo, although I still find the lack of structure difficult. It seems like sensei never shows the technique the same way twice, which I understand is typical in Bujinkan - i.e., feel it out and take what your opponent gives. But I'm having fun with it and developing some skills, which is all I was after.
     
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  17. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds great. Just push on and keep training!
     
  18. Kurai

    Kurai Green Belt

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    Don't get yourself too caught up in the speed at which you progress. Just train and have fun. Focus on your basics.
     
  19. GiYu - Todd

    GiYu - Todd Green Belt

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    Beginning any new endeavor is difficult. Just be sure to take good notes, and ask lots of questions. If there are other newer students training with you, they likely have the same questions, and will appreciate you stepping up.

    As for your age... it shouldn't be a significant issue.
    I took aikido in college for 3 years, then stopped training until I was 40. After looking around at Steven Hayes' school and several of the x-kans, I ended up at the Gi Yu Dojo in Dayton. The instruction was amazing and the students all had a healthy attitude toward their training partners. I had your same concerns about my age. It became obvious how much slower my body recovered than it did in college. But one of the blackbelt's at the Gi Yu Dojo was in his 60s and still performing amazingly well. I figured, if he could do it, so could I. Now, 6 years into training, I'm much better at performing and receiving techniques, and most of the injuries have become infrequent. My joints tend to protest a bit on days I train really hard, but that just lets me know I'm not slacking off. As long as you figure out where your own limits are, and just slightly push the boundaries in order to grow, you'll do fine. Avoid using your age as an excuse to not do something.

    Good luck!
     
  20. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    Dude , I am 50 and just finished my second class, and I am going through the same issues as you, I am the newest guy in the class, and at times I feel I am holding everybody back, but my instructor is very good and is patient, since my class is small ,usually 4-5 people , he bounces back between the black belts and me, he will have them doing some techniques and work with me on fundamentals. Just realize that its a marathon ,not a sprint, and take your time, I always leave there learning something new.
    First class I learned San Shin No Kata, Kaiten rolls and various kicks and Kamae, second class I started with some hand locks, but I always come away with something new.
     

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