The Older Martial Artist

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Bill Mattocks, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Interesting to see the same topic come up in a couple of relatively unrelated threads, so I thought I'd just start a new topic.

    Everybody who lives long enough gets older. And getting older means the body changes. Some of it we can control or at least slow down. Some of it we cannot do much about.

    In my case, being 50 (but having started training at 46) means I am dealing with my weight and my physical fitness not being where I want them.

    I'm also dealing with various ailments that can come along with age. I've got Type 2 Diabetes, asymptomatic Sarcoidosis, Psoriasis, and some minor Bursitis in my left shoulder.

    No doubt other martial artists, many who have been practicing their arts for a lifetime, have medical issues stemming from the basic wear-and-tear on their bodies as well as the ravages of time.

    It was mentioned in the other threads that the older martial artist loses speed, flexibility, and strength. I countered that strength is not necessarily on the list. I personally feel I am stronger than I was as younger man, even if my cardio-vascular fitness level is lower and my speed and flexibility have decreased.

    I also feel that there are trade-offs; not everything associated with aging is bad. I feel older martial artists have a better insight into behavior of others, not just due to having been in the martial arts for a long time, but just by experiencing life itself for a long time. I also feel we tend to shrug off pain and injury more readily; to us, it's a fact of every day life. Oh, we hurt. So what else is new? :)

    I would also like to think that we more seasoned citizens know how to get things done, including cutting to the chase. Less talk, more action. We're no longer ruled by our emotions or our gonads. We've done our monkey dances, acted the fool, but we're pretty much done with all of that. We know who we are and what we're capable of. We're tested and we have a pretty good idea of our limits, and we're very aware that we're not immortal or indestructible. We cheat and play to our strengths and ignore the things we can no longer do, or things we're just not that good at anymore (or never were good and and now we never will be). We find ways around instead of through.

    We've also learned to take our time and be patient with ourselves, with our training, and with our bodies. It's not a race, we'll get to where we are going. We don't get excited about slights, insults, and casual emotional issues; we just don't have the energy to get all worked up about 'he said, she said' anymore. We just don't care about insignificant stuff; and we've learned that a lot of things we once thought were important are actually 'insignificant stuff'.

    That's my opinion. What's yours, old-timer?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  2. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Very well rounded precis there, Bill :). I do agree but would add that, as a young buck, I always used to wonder why middle aged people seemed to be so grumpy all the time ... now I know :lol:. It is true that you get used to being in pain of one sort or another most days but it does have the negative side effect of making you more likely to be in a less than sunny mood :D. Well, the physical pain and the psychological pain of putting up with the tide of nonsense and unfixed issues that plague our societies - those things that as younger people we idealistically thought would be sorted out as we got older :faints:.
     
  3. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    And glad you did.


    If we look long and hard enough, the older arts are geared toward the aging MA. As the sayings go, "MA are for everyone".
    And also "MA is for a life time". It's up to us to learn to adopt.

    In my case being 69 but having started at 23 means I'm dealing with "that was then and this is now". I think this is why it seems that older MA are so humble, because our bodies are force to deal with it that way. A lot of my martial arts friends have stopped working out because they would rather, live in the passed.

    Pain does become your friend, but I can still do a lot more then people my age or younger. :)

    It's that way with anything, football, boxing or any other activity. If it ages with you, you can, if you stop and try to start again, it is much harder. I can't do what I did do, but a little everyday, is the ticket, NEVER stop.

    To be honest with you, Bill, timing covers a large part of the above. That and getting off of the tracks so to speak, as opposed to going head to head.

    Could not agree more.

    This separates the man from the boys. :)

    We learn to cross train with "verbal judo". Never shoot blanks, and say what you mean and mean what you say...

    Bill, I'm glad you started this thread. I'm not sure what people think about this old age thing. I do think this thread will give them a whole different perspective.........
     
  4. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I know there are a lot of older guys than I on this forum, but age is part of what I've been having to deal with lately. I left the martial arts for a long time, about 15 or sixteen years, before getting involved again at age 52. I also started hitting the weights, running and doing body weight workouts. After a couple of years I got into pretty decent shape and could outlast the young bucks in our group when it came to sparring or anything else that required stamina. I could also do about 30 pull ups and 120+ fast push ups. I think I was beginning to feel that through willpower and work I could hold off aging for a long, long time. Wasn't it Nietzsche who said "That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger"?

    Well, Nietzsche also said "God is dead". The truth is that Nietzsche is dead. God is still laughing over that one. Looks like he may be amused with me too. last month I seriously jacked-up my back. So far, I've been to sports/spinal specialists, started physical therapy and am scheduled to see a top neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks. My PT tells me that I will almost certainly need surgery, then with careful and consistent rehab and careful living I can look forward to gentle walks and ordinary activities relatively free of pain. But, he just doesn't see room for martial arts in my future.

    Hmmm. wait a minute. That's my freakin' future he's talking about. I get to make that decision. I may have to change how I approach things, and how I do them. Maybe avoid contact sparring, maybe cut out all grappling and throws.... limit my kicking.... I don't know. Hell, maybe I'll even have to improve my technique so I can be softer and more effective with less stress on my body. There's a thought. And, of course I can't ignore my injury, that would be foolish. But I know people way worse off than me that do amazing things in their lives. Heck remember Nietzsche? He was 6 months younger than I am now when he died. And look what he contributed. As far as the martial arts go, last fall I attended an amazing Escrima seminar with Carlito Bonjoc. Check this guy out:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue8vgxvtWYI&feature=related

    Notice that Carlito is sitting on stools in each clip? He was born with a deteriorating physical condition that has put him in a wheelchair. Now he teaches with his legs braced in front of him while seated on a barstool. But heaven help the guy that mistakes him for being "handicapped". Ha!

    So what does this have do do with me or the OP? I forget. I gotta get ready to go to train. Talk to you later.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  5. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I just deny that I'm getting old.

    I don't hear my joints popping, regardless of what the kids claim...
     
  6. Zenjael

    Zenjael Purple Belt

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    A teacher I had awhile back, once he hit about 50, went back to Korea to learn another form of TKD which is easier for older individuals. He was gone for close to a year, if I recall. You are right, in everything you said, based on what other, older martial artists have conveyed.

    I think though there is an advantage to training with age, though it not the best, I'll admit. When you get injured young, depending on the injury, it may never go away. And if still growing, there is a chance a person could lose abilities forever because of the injury. While this can occur to anyone, this is a risk I've seen which is unique to that younger age grouping. One individual I had the opportunity to train with was a phenomenal kicker, but a few months after meeting him when he was 14, tore his ACL. He still has never regained his ability to kick, he's reaching 20, is still among the finest martial artists I've seen, and now a phenomenal person with handwork and grappling. At advanced ages, or certainly intermediate, I believe there is a higher chance to 'bounce back' from injuries, or that they will not be as debilitating as I described.

    Can't even count how many times I've heard a person say they cannot do this or that, not because of laziness or lethargy, but because they truly can't- they had an injury at a younger age, which having grown with, continued to impede them... forever. It's why I am GRATEFUL I have not had any injuries which are permanent like that. Currently I cannot use my right hand to punch- this will never heal, so I have had to alter what I use with that hand to open hand techniques, or strike with a different knuckle. I used to favor my index finger, now if I punch, no choice but to favor the pinky and ring finger, which are notoriously the weakest in terms of being prone to damage and breaking. Hopefully, with conditioning, I will regain the use of that hand, but it will take a VERY long time. It's like going from being able to do 150 push-ups in a single stretch, to being forced to do 5 push-ups against the wall, because that's all the body can handle.

    I place a huge amount of stretching to get around this problem, but it's taken a long time to learn which stretches are actually conducive, and which are actually destructive despite commonly held views. I hope you do this, yoga is very beneficial for people who are older, especially. Regenerative, in some aspects.

    I like your last bit though, that it's not a race. I agree, it isn't, but I've found that when racing myself, I end up both the winner and loser, and learn from the experience from both perspective. Age is something I look forward to having, but in due time of course. You can't exactly get there if you skip over what comes before. I know a few people who do this, who comically refer to themselves as 'MD' when they haven't even gotten past undergrad, let alone a doctoral thesis and approval.

    But I have to add this- I do not respect a person for their age, outside of social norms. I respect them for what they have to say. I lost my innate respect for the elderly when I witnessed an 80 year old advocating the death of muslims after 911. Age... doesn't really amount to anything, when a person has lived improperly. The addage practice makes perfect is a misnormer for this- it doesn't. Perfect practice makes perfect. Likewise, a well-lived, learned life from experience, be it from personal or transitory (such as learning from what happens to others) is what will lead to the weight of a person behind their age.

    I respect you because you have great experience in life- and even moreso, because what you say itself carries great weight. To me that seems a better reason to give you respect, than say because of your age. The former is sincere, because it is choice, while the latter seems... well, inconsequential, since it is done almost out of rote for many.

    Thank you for what you wrote, I know as I age it will be something I will read, and re-read. And when I have students again, I will read to them.
     
  7. Randy Strausbaugh

    Randy Strausbaugh Master Black Belt

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    Dealing with age, injury, and illness myself. Fortunately, I had that bone in my head removed, the one which made me insist that I could still do things the same way that I did when I was seventeen.
    I believe you're right about the strength thing, barring injury. I'm probably (hard to be objective about this) a little faster than I was as a teen, solely due to being able to relax. Back then, I had the common notion that tension equals strength equals speed. Now that I relax more, I no longer put "brakes" on my techniques. Having to work around my reality makes me seek out better, more efficient methods of training. As stated above, this is not a competition. I'm not training for the end of the month, I'm training for life. It's kind of cliche', but I'm not training to be better than someone else, I'm training to be better than I was yesterday.

    Great thread, BTW.
     
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  8. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Bill…Your 50 :xtrmshock…man your old….as for me….. I’m 25……for the second time :D

    I have more patients, I listen to what my body is telling me, and for some reason, although technically I have less time, I find myself saying I have time to get this, there is no hurry

    I cannot do the workout I did 20 years ago but I recently discovered I can work out harder than I was just 6 months ago and a lot harder than I was a year ago. I also figured out that I have enough experience behind me where I can design and work on a plan that best fits me and my needs when training.

    I have strained and sprained all sorts of things in my almost 40 years of MA and I have been taken out of training a few times by injuries; fractured knee, herniated disks, broken ankle, broken foot and torn meniscus.

    But I am still standing, still training, have a long way to go to get where I want to be, and I have time :cool:
     
  9. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    Just wanted to add that one thing I always hear my Sensei saying to students is "Relax, loosen up, you're too stiff!" That's one thing I don't think he has ever had to say to me. Man, I'm relaxed. I positively sag! Something some of the younger guys sometimes have a bit of trouble grasping is that when we relax and sink down into our stance, we really connect with our base, and the power, it just flows. I hit a lot harder these days, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm tired! I relax, let it flow. Or at least I try to and imagine that I'm doing it. Sometimes maybe I really am doing it.
     
  10. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    Xue, I'm just a bit younger than you. I'm just past 21 ... for the 3rd time. :ultracool

    Like you, I still think there's plenty of time to get where I'd like to be before calling it quits. My aikido training has added a new dimension to my karate and my increased fitness training has maintained or even improved my strength and agility. In grappling, I find it easier to conserve energy by being far more relaxed and it's pretty much the same sparring. I don't exhaust myself jumping up and down.

    Actually, once you stop work you have far more opportunities to work on fitness and enjoy life in general. Age is in the mind. It doesn't worry me in the least, although it does surprise a lot of the younger guys, who think life ends at 40! :asian:
     
  11. Kenlee25

    Kenlee25 Green Belt

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    You guys are seriously what I look forward to being like when I get older
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    At 41, I just take it easy and enjoy myself. Nothing to prove. I like to say that my goal isn't to be better than you. It's to be better then I was yesterday.
     
  13. decepticon

    decepticon Green Belt

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    I used to be very active physically, kind of lost myself for about 20 years, and then found myself again - and was surprised to discover that I've reached middle age! I was so shocked that I decided to do something dramatic so I signed up for martial arts when I signed my child up.

    First surprise, much of my flexibility has returned. I need to be a bit more diligent and push it a bit harder to see if I can regain 100% or even improve on my previous abilities. I am sure my cardio/stamina/endurance aren't what they were when I was younger, but I'm pretty sure I squandered much of my capabilities back then. Not sure I need all that I had back then. I certainly wasn't using it before. However, my cardio workouts are paying off and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was for me to run the other day. I am in better shape than 10 years ago and hope to do even better as I progress.

    The school where I train focuses primarily on teaching technique. The instructor says we can work on conditioning on our own time. However many of the young bucks there don't. So when it comes down to it, I am more flexible than most. I have noticed that my endurance seems to put me in the middle of the pack. Privately I ponder how sad it is to see such easily accessible potential go unrealized. Whatever. I'm sure I didn't use mine 100% when I was their age either.

    The big pluses I have now are wisdom and judgement. As others have mentioned, I am a better judge of when to make nice, when to run, and when to stand my ground. I now know what is truly worth fighting for. I have a sharper eye for seeing my oponent's weaknesses because I'm no longer blinded by my own preconceived notions. I definitely have a better capability to work out the potential consequences prior to taking action. These days I focus less on what to do and more on why do it. My values are clearer so I am less likely to come down hard on a stranger's behavior but accept the same from a friend or myself. I have a better sense of my own limitations and strengths. I know how to work smarter, not harder; I hope to be able to fight the same way.
     
  14. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Us martial artists aren't the only ones carrying on into a more mature age. Recently watching at a cheer leading comp where my daughter had her squad there were teams of much older ladies, in their forties and fifties ( early 60s a couple of them) and doing the splits, stunts etc the younger ones were doing. Better still was the fact that no one thought it was unusual! The London marathon last week had plenty of older people in it. It's becoming more and more understood that we don't shrivel the day we hit 40 and it's very much use it or lose it.
     
  15. seasoned

    seasoned MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I bought a new car a few years back, and it was awesome, just what I wanted. It had a lot of horse power, and man would it get up and go. Tooling down the highway without a care in the world. I could be doing 50 and hit that gas peddle, and away it would go.
    The best was when I would stop at a red light and check out my rear view mirror to see what was coming along side of me. inevitably it would be some taker, wanting to give it a go. I would look over, give a grin, and when that light changed, bury that foot down and leave them in the dust. Man what a feeling.

    Well, as fate would have it, that wonderful ride started to get some years under it's fan belt :), and the paint dulled a bit. Oh, don't get me wrong, it would get me where I wanted to go, maybe not as fast as it use to, but it was dependable. On cold days I would park it in the garage more, so I could get it started in the morning, but, it never let me down.

    I probably should have taken better care of it early on, you know, oil changes and such, maybe a better grade of gas, or some wax. But I was using it to the fullest and having a lot of fun. I did think more then once about trading it in, but, that was out of the question and imposable. :)
    On the days I would take it out, it didn't draw the attention it use to, but I'm OK with that, after all, it was my ride.


    One Sunday morning I decided to take a spin, checked the oil, gassed it up, and away we went. This particular morning I was reminiscing about years gone by and the times at red lights, when I was unbeatable.
    Well, it happened, and I found myself at a red light and along side of me was this shiny fast looking ride, that reminded me of me, long ago. I looked over, and feeling a bit frisky, gave a grin. That ride next to me got the hint, but I caught them giving me the once over, and even smirking a bit. The light changed we hit the peddles and that shiny ride took off like a bat out of hell, damn. All I could see was tail lights as it rounded a slight curve up ahead. I let up on the gas, as I thought, man that felt good, even for a moment.
    As I rounded the curve, what do you think, there on the side of the road, was that same car that a second ago left me in it's dust. Engine trouble, out of gas, who knows, but as I passed, I gave a grin, and a wave, and went on my way................

    As most of you know, at times I enjoy giving metaphors of events in my life, and as you may have gathered by now, this is one of those times. I think the above best explains the way I feel in my heart, as I have traveled through my life, and all I can say at this point is, oh what a ride I had, with still just a little gas left to enjoy the rest of my trip. :asian:
     
  16. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Something I found interesting in China.

    If you are under 50 it is ok to play soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball, lift weights, or do just about any sport you want. However once you pass 50 they think you’re weird if you do any of that. However if you are 50, 60 or even in your 90s martial arts, any martial art, not just taijiquan, that is ok. I saw two guys there who look somewhere between late-70s and 90 doing the most amazing Changquan I had ever seen, jumps, spins solid landings, power and my wife (who is from China) thought that was normal. But if they were playing basketball they would have been weird.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  17. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    When you are young, you eventually learn to say "I'm sorry" even when she is wrong.
    As you age you learn - she is never wrong.

    Old people know more about being young than young people know about being old.

    I care less about the first time I couldn't do something the second time than I do about the second time I couldn't do something the first time.

    Sooner or later you learn that old people just don't give a F when they fight you, they'd just as soon kill you.

    When you are young you have the epiphany - "Money isn't everything..."
    When you're older you learn the rest of that expression - "...just make sure you have enough of it before you ever talk such nonsense."

    The reason us older guys walk a little slower is not to stop and "smell the roses."
    It's because every God damn thing hurts.

    The older I get I realize that Will Rogers never met my in-laws.
     
  18. WC_lun

    WC_lun Senior Master

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    I am older than most guy on the forum, not as old as some. Every physical skill will eventaully fade. That's nature. That happens differently for every individual, but it will happen.

    For me and fighting, things a much different than when I was a young man. I've trained so much than my body has its own reactions hard wired when I see certain movements. I don't even think about doing something, I just let the training happen. Lets the brain be free to see further down the engagment. I don't waste a lot of energy, because frankly I don't have it anymore. If a fellow wants to do the monkey dance or show me how much physical skills he has, good for him. I'm not going to play with him though :) I also think I may be a lot meaner after I have finally decided I must fight. I don't want to be there and I don't want to play. I make everything I do as a step toward ending the confrontation and walking away. Sometimes that means stuff happens that isn't "fair" or "sporting." I do have to agree with Bill about the pain thing as well. I feel pain when it happens, but I tend to not react to it. I can put pain to the back of my mind and deal with it later. Some things I find don't hurt nearly as much as they used too as well. I think that might have something to do with losing the fear of those things. Like getting hit in the face. I've been hit in the face a lot. I don't enjoy it, but I don't fear it either.

    I feel like I know what is more important in my life too. Impressing some young buck or lass is far down on the list than sharing a morning cofee with my wife. So my priorities are much different than more youthful guys.

    I've have to come to accept that my body is not what I would wish it to be. I can do things to keep it from going completley to ruin, but with my illness I am never going to be in the shape of say my kwoon brothers. So I try to work smarter. Increasing the effectiveness of whatever I do.

    You folk have thier own strengths. Good for them. Us older folk have our experiences so we know what our strengths are. It all works out. :)
     
  19. yak sao

    yak sao Master of Arts

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    Fantastic writing.
     
  20. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    my experience has been that the older martial artist is the one who is provably the most dangerous to an attacker. not necessarily in sparring, but he/she may really surprise you there too!

    age and treachery takes youth and strength every time! also old men fight to finish it fast. no monkey dance, no screwing around with the attacker.123
     

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