age and the martial arts

drunken mistress

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I am writing an article on age and the Martial Arts. I started Karate at 48 and (eight months later) I am already finding it has greatly increased my strength and flexibility. I also like the respect paid to age in Kung Fu films. I would be interested to hear from any older Martial Artists or ancedotes on the same subject.
 

7starmantis

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Just a quick comment, the adage by old kung fu films regarding age is not just in the films. Studying kung fu allows me to have contact with men who have studied kung fu their whole lives and at 65 or 72 can still best a 23 year old. Its a different way of fighting, but very effective. I'm 26, been studying MA for about 18 years or so and I would rather die than face my sigung (teachers teacher) who is over 60.

7sm
 
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drunken mistress

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Thanks, 7SM. That was what I wanted to hear as almost every other area of life takes a negative view of age. My best friend is half Chines and has done Tai-Chi for years. She is in her sixties but sunbathes topless and wins Badminton tournaments for the county! Needless to say she looks twenty years younger.
 
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RCastillo

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I'm 48, and going strong. It's the only thing that keeps me going in life!:asian:
 

KenpoTess

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Hi DrunkenMistress :) Welcome to the Board~!

I started training when I was in my late 30's, and now at 44 think I'm healthier than ever in my life. I was in a nasty car accident not long after I started training and now have a titanium cage in my lumbar spine but that doesn't detract from me doing falls and rolls or grappling or anything for that matter. I woke up with a right paralyzed foot from a knick in my sciatic nerve after my back surgery and yes that did cause some issues for awhile (emotionally and physically) but I persevered and kept training, *note* the Spinal specialist said I would end up in a wheelchair and should only walk no more than 20' at a time.. I showed him ;)
a couple years ago I was sitting with my leg propped up and suddenly saw my toes moving.. needless to say.. I was ecstatic. I ascertain my recovery to my daily training in AK. I still have a few 'issues' I deal with, but I am stronger, more limber, ( think I'm the only one in our studio that can put my chest and face to my thigh during stretching) and I'm most definitely the oldest who currently trains, the rest of my clan are college students.
I plan on keeping Kicking and punching til they tell me I'm gone :D

Again Great to have you aboard~!

Tess
 

Chronuss

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...I personally wish I could've started training when I was younger...maybe I wouldn't have had the health problems I had as an adolescent. however, since I've been traning, I rarely ever get sick anymore. training is definately one of the things that make me look forward to the next coming day. :D
 

Cryozombie

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Originally posted by drunken mistress
Thanks, 7SM. That was what I wanted to hear as almost every other area of life takes a negative view of age. My best friend is half Chines and has done Tai-Chi for years. She is in her sixties but sunbathes topless and wins Badminton tournaments for the county! Needless to say she looks twenty years younger.

I need to take Tai Chi so I can sunbathe naked. :D

Grandmaster Hatsumi of the Bujinkan is 73 or 74 and watching him move and practice the art is incredible. I only hope to be 1/2 as healthy as he is at that age... (well, ok, I hope to be just as healthy...)
 

AIKIKENJITSU

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I'm 78 and still going strong and fast in Kenpo. The type of art will also help determine how you will be in later years. Also watch your weight and don't develop a gut.
Sifu
 

Hyoho

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Started at around 18 with Karate. Teaching/practicing swords arts and nearly 75. Of course not functioning the same as my younger years but experience, excellent sense of timing and strong ki still has me on top of the game.
 

Holmejr

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I am 66 years of age and so far so good. Im loosely scheduled to take my 2nd degree in June/July. I think people stay relatively strong until older ages, but lose balance, flexibility, suppleness and fluidity. MA cultures those things. I also play singles tennis and I believe the MAs keep me in that game.

Eskrido de Alcuizar
Orange County, CA
 

AIKIKENJITSU

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I'm 78 and still going strong and fast in Kenpo. The type of art will also help determine how you will be in later years. Also watch your weight and don't develop a gut.
Sifu
I am writing an article on age and the Martial Arts. I started Karate at 48 and (eight months later) I am already finding it has greatly increased my strength and flexibility. I also like the respect paid to age in Kung Fu films. I would be interested to hear from any older Martial Artists or ancedotes on the same subject.
A quick note. I started martial arts with Tracy Kenpo and after earning my black belt, I taught with Tracy.
Later, I studied American Kenpo. I also studied a few months of Aikido. Kenpo techniques have kept as flexible as a much younger person. That's saying a lot at age 78. But, I feel if you ever take a long break from working out on martial arts, it will be difficult to achieve what you had before the older you are. Therefore, I workout three times a week and I teach privately in my home studio.
Hope this helps.
Sifu
 

geezer

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I'm 78 and still going strong and fast in Kenpo. The type of art will also help determine how you will be in later years. Also watch your weight and don't develop a gut.
Sifu
That's a stretch ....coming from a Kenpo guy! See 0:32-0:40 in the clip below :p


BTW (for those who don't know) The comedic character of Master Ken is portrayed by Matt Page an experienced martial artist who's foundation is ... you got it, Kenpo!
Oh, and not to be hypocritical, I gotta admit I've been losing the battle of the bulge myself the last several years. :(
 

Gyakuto

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Without intervention, we tend to lose about 1% of our skeletal muscle mass each year after the age of 40 years, we tend to lose elastin and collagen from our tissues (which is why our skin loses its elasticity and appears to sags under gravity), our muscle will shorten, we lose neurones and so our reflexes slow and our proprioception becomes less efficient. Bone density decreases and our vision degrades. Thus I think it takes a great deal of courage to start, as a complete beginner, a physical combat art at an older age, especially one that is particularly physical.

Going back to a combat art in later years, especially when one was quite proficient, is a different but interesting experience. All of the above factors still inhibit ones abilities but experience and indeed the reduction in fear levels mean that I was happier to try riskier techniques that I wouldnt have contemplated as a young man, often successfully so to the bemusement of my younger dojo-mates! So that subtle body evasion twist, (characteristic of Wado Ryu Karate) that Id be toonscared to try as a younger man in sparring, actually works. A forward-rolling axe kick actually connects to my opponents abdomen. Scissor throws (kani basami) can, spectacularly, work and the trepidation to try it has gone.

So we have swings and roundabouts with advancing age in combat sports. Ones physical abilities do bleed away with advancing age but perhaps these are compensated, to an extent, by other factors在ut to a point!

Time is the fire in which we burn.
 

Oily Dragon

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Without intervention, we tend to lose about 1% of our skeletal muscle mass each year after the age of 40 years, we tend to lose elastin and collagen from our tissues (which is why our skin loses its elasticity and appears to sags under gravity), our muscle will shorten, we lose neurones and so our reflexes slow and our proprioception becomes less efficient. Bone density decreases and our vision degrades. Thus I think it takes a great deal of courage to start, as a complete beginner, a physical combat art at an older age, especially one that is particularly physical.

Going back to a combat art in later years, especially when one was quite proficient, is a different but interesting experience. All of the above factors still inhibit ones abilities but experience and indeed the reduction in fear levels mean that I was happier to try riskier techniques that I wouldnt have contemplated as a young man, often successfully so to the bemusement of my younger dojo-mates! So that subtle body evasion twist, (characteristic of Wado Ryu Karate) that Id be toonscared to try as a younger man in sparring, actually works. A forward-rolling axe kick actually connects to my opponents abdomen. Scissor throws (kani basami) can, spectacularly, work and the trepidation to try it has gone.

So we have swings and roundabouts with advancing age in combat sports. Ones physical abilities do bleed away with advancing age but perhaps these are compensated, to an extent, by other factors在ut to a point!

Time is the fire in which we burn.
If time is fire, chairs are pure oxygen, and a couch is high octane gas.

If there's one thing that separates the elderly and the young, it's movement. Young people with no limitations who sit around all day don't realize it'll hold them back someday, older people with limits who do it probably don't care anymore and have given up, and go from the recliner to the grave.

Meanwhile, there is this 800 year old looking lady who power walks down my street every day with her headphones on. She's got the right idea.

No matter how much of a mess I make doing kitchen fu (I put Bobby Flay to shame), I won't let my housemates clean up or do the dishes. When they ask why, I tell them I don't want to die young.
 
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isshinryuronin

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the reduction in fear levels mean that I was happier to try riskier techniques that I wouldnt have contemplated as a young man, often successfully so to the bemusement of my younger dojo-mates! So that subtle body evasion twist, (characteristic of Wado Ryu Karate) that Id be too scared to try as a younger man in sparring, actually works.
Is this "reduction in fear" a result of getting older and so more accepting of the approach of our inevitable end, or a realization after many years in the art that its founding concepts actually do work? Or do we try techniques we previously shied away from because we have lost our ego's fear of failure? All of these? One thing for sure, age provides certain potential compensations to physical decline.
have given up, and go from the recliner to the grave.
You look at people in their sixties, and even fifties, who look and act a decade or two older. Then you see others in their seventies who are active and vibrant. No doubt heredity and disease play some part. But beyond this, is there something more internal at play?

Do some seniors, especially older veteran martial artists, possess some "spark" (ki/chi) that others lack? Is this spark more common in martial artists than others who have had an active life style?
 

Gyakuto

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Is this "reduction in fear" a result of getting older and so more accepting of the approach of our inevitable end, or a realization after many years in the art that its founding concepts actually do work? Or do we try techniques we previously shied away from because we have lost our ego's fear of failure? All of these? One thing for sure, age provides certain potential compensations to physical decline.
Those are good observation地nd like most things, its bound to be a bit of them all albeit in a particular order 1) A loss of the fear of failure (I dont even comb whats left of my hair or look in mirrors these days) leading onto 2) the realisation that the founding concepts work after successfully applying them 3) Welcoming the sweet release of death
 

mograph

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Here's what I've seen, found and read about aging and this sort of thing as I approach 62 (tomorrow):
  • we do need to keep moving, of course.
  • we are capable of much more than we have been led to believe by youth-focused culture.
  • our main deficit, relative to our youth, is recovery time.
  • fear of injury limits us. We need to be prudent, but also be active in a way to minimize the risk. Be stable, for example.
  • we have the wisdom to be able to think differently about our practice, and to distribute effort through our entire body rather than focus on a few muscles, for example. This distribution is what allows surprising feats at an advanced age.
  • we're no longer trying to prove anything ... hopefully.
  • this wisdom also allows us to eschew immediate gratification, to see incremental gains and the long view.
  • we don't mind doing stuff that kids would find boring, e.g. deep breathing or zhan zhuang. Because we know it pays dividends.
Carry on!
 

Fedora

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I am writing an article on age and the Martial Arts. I started Karate at 48 and (eight months later) I am already finding it has greatly increased my strength and flexibility. I also like the respect paid to age in Kung Fu films. I would be interested to hear from any older Martial Artists or ancedotes on the same subject.
I started Kung Fu San Soo in the 1990s and due to a combination of public and private classes eventually rose to 8th degree black (our terminal belt, referred to as "Master") in 2005. I am now in my (very) late 70s and can offer testimony on San Soo and aging.

Techniques that require a young man's flexibility are no longer possible. That allows more time to practice the moves that do not require limberness. Consequently I find myself studying to greater depth a limited repertoire of the techniques my body can still do. (Begin blush) I have become pretty good at a limited number of very effective moves (end blush).

My present abilities are adversely affected by the fact that I've never passed the Art along. My teacher's teacher (still alive), by making a living teaching San Soo on a daily basis for the past fifty years, has retained more of his skill set than I. There's certainly something to be said for (i) instructing on a daily basis, (ii) over a long period of time, (iii) and teaching the entire corpus of the Art inumerable times.

Good luck with your article.
 
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