age and the martial arts

seasoned

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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?
I just turned 79 years old and have been involved in MA for the better part of 50 years. Case in point, as a young man I trained for the obvious reasons, to better myself in self-defense. As time went by my enjoyment came from teaching others to better prepare themselves for the same...After all these years of preparing myself and others and totally enjoying the interaction/camaraderie I discovered one thing.
The "spark" of enthusiasm over the years could now be turned toward myself in retirement with the realization that my biggest opponent was and always will be within me....... :)
 

OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

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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.
Hello, my Grandmaster still trains and teaches and he is in his 90s. No end to the love of learning and sharing any martial art. I'm 60 now and continue to train and lift weekly. I often scare the 20 something students when they believe I'm an old overweight man and I'm still a force to be reckoned with. I'm very blessed for my health and my strength.
 

shihansmurf

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I'm 47 and I started in Shotokan at age 9. 38 years training now. I have branched out into Boxing, Kenpo, and JKD. I've noticed that the cumulative effects of the injuries that I have amasses are starting to catch up to me, although to be fair, I spent 21 years in the Army so a bunch of those injuries aren't martial art related.

I do a lot of weight training which has helped mitigate the effect of the injuries.

I think I'm like Toby Keith. I'm not as good as I once was but I'm as goon once as I ever was.

Mark
 

Kung Fu Wang

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When you get old, you don't train MA for fighting. You train MA for fun and health.

As long as you can still swing your leg behind and remain good balance, you will never be old.

leg-lift-solo.gif
 

Unkogami

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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.

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?
Seems nothing matters as much as where you live.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I'm 47 and I started in Shotokan at age 9. 38 years training now. I have branched out into Boxing, Kenpo, and JKD. I've noticed that the cumulative effects of the injuries that I have amasses are starting to catch up to me, although to be fair, I spent 21 years in the Army so a bunch of those injuries aren't martial art related.

I do a lot of weight training which has helped mitigate the effect of the injuries.

I think I'm like Toby Keith. I'm not as good as I once was but I'm as goon once as I ever was.

Mark
I have injuries from a multitude of pursuits. Some are definitely from MA, while others come from rock climbing, soccer (I think some of my knee issues start there, and probably were actually helped by my MA training), and probably picking up some new ones from my current job leading zipline tours. It's the price of being active, but I suspect many of those injuries are offset by the baseline of fitness and activity we carry into our later years.
 

Instructor

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I have injuries from a multitude of pursuits. Some are definitely from MA, while others come from rock climbing, soccer (I think some of my knee issues start there, and probably were actually helped by my MA training), and probably picking up some new ones from my current job leading zipline tours. It's the price of being active, but I suspect many of those injuries are offset by the baseline of fitness and activity we carry into our later years.
I've had my nose broken three times and my students smile when I yell at them to keep their hands up.
 

Unkogami

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I've had my nose broken three times and my students smile when I yell at them to keep their hands up.
I had my nose broken so many times that by the end of my competitive years I would bust out a gusher in almost every match. It got pretty inconvenient. But a broken nose is nothing, really.
 

Instructor

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I had my nose broken so many times that by the end of my competitive years I would bust out a gusher in almost every match. It got pretty inconvenient. But a broken nose is nothing, really.
I think my wife has a thing for Owen Wilson so having a broken nose works in my favor there.
 

Yanli

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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.
Hello, I am 57 and been teaching for about 41 years. I started with JKD, I was young and had good strength and stamina. After medical issues through my life and having to change my style/form, I use a less intensive form. My wife and I use more Wing Chun, Wushu, and a bit of Aikido. Before it was more Kung Fu and boxing. Many say Wing Chun is for the old and the weak, well, that is so wrong. Yes, the old and weak can use it, but it is a great form for anyone.
 

Yanli

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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!
I really like your post, I like how you point out factors of age that the average person does not see or recognizes. I am 57, and I am finding it harder to teach the younger generation compared to when I was young lol. They recognize my stature, but they keep contradicting me because of what they read or saw on Youtube, they see things more in the technical manner then the broad perspective. I am glad to see a student researching and not just take my word for it, but at least try the move or exercise out before contradicting. I tried suggesting to a man on another forum about using weights on his wrists and legs to build up strength in all directions, and not restrict his strength in a few directions. This turned out to be a very long discussion with another person, giving link's to various articles which to him stated opposite of what I was saying, which it was not lol. Do you have problems with the younger generation?
 

Yanli

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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.

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?
I think that the way someone looks is more of their attitude and lifestyle. When I was a teen-ager, many many years ago, I looked like a young adult in his 20's, now, I am 57, and I am told I look in my 40's. Of course, this is from people that know I am a Shifu, so maybe they are being polite because they know I can drop them in a second lol. As a Shifu, I have to be wise and stern, but in life I try to be fun and loving, and I make a lot of jokes, many times dirty jokes, it is nice what an old man can get away with lol.
 

Yanli

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Hello, my Grandmaster still trains and teaches and he is in his 90s. No end to the love of learning and sharing any martial art. I'm 60 now and continue to train and lift weekly. I often scare the 20 something students when they believe I'm an old overweight man and I'm still a force to be reckoned with. I'm very blessed for my health and my strength.
Yes, it is nice putting such a surprising look on a young person. I have had young students that believe Wing Chun is for the old and the weak, so I put a 2x6 up against their chest and tell them to take a solid stance, and then show them how I can send them flying back with a wave of my hand, take that you young whipper snapper lol.
 

Yanli

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I have injuries from a multitude of pursuits. Some are definitely from MA, while others come from rock climbing, soccer (I think some of my knee issues start there, and probably were actually helped by my MA training), and probably picking up some new ones from my current job leading zipline tours. It's the price of being active, but I suspect many of those injuries are offset by the baseline of fitness and activity we carry into our later years.
That is the nice thing about staying with martial arts, we may not have the stamina that we once had, but we are quicker and wiser in our fighting style. I started with JKD which entailed Kung Fu, boxing and a little Aikido. As I got older and many different medical issues, I slowly went more towards Wing Chun, Wushu, and still a little Aikido. This seems to work great with my age and medical issues. I would have to say that martial arts has greatly helped me through many of my medical issues, none of which was from my practice.
 

Yanli

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When you get old, you don't train MA for fighting. You train MA for fun and health.

As long as you can still swing your leg behind and remain good balance, you will never be old.

leg-lift-solo.gif
I would hate to add or contradict a sr. grandmaster, but, I tell people to train MA for the fun and health, the fighting skills are just added bonuses lol. I like to try and take the "fighting" issue out of their mind, I use the term "try" loosely lol. I found that when fighting is the main concern, the look more on how to gain power and strength, and not the smooth, grace, and accuracy of their strikes and blocks. They also ignore the importance of a solid stance and footwork.
 

Steve

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I have injuries from a multitude of pursuits. Some are definitely from MA, while others come from rock climbing, soccer (I think some of my knee issues start there, and probably were actually helped by my MA training), and probably picking up some new ones from my current job leading zipline tours. It's the price of being active, but I suspect many of those injuries are offset by the baseline of fitness and activity we carry into our later years.
You lead zip line tours? That sounds like a really cool job, Gerry.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I would hate to add or contradict a sr. grandmaster,
Just so you know, the ranks you see listed under members names are just an indication of how many posts theyve made on this forum. Its just a fun way to indicate how active someone is on the discussion boards and has nothing to do with any rank they may have in the martial arts.

(KFW does also have a lot of decades practicing and teaching martial arts, but that doesnt stop anyone else from arguing with him. :) )
 

Alan0354

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I am 69, I did 3 years of Tae Kwon Do in the mid 80s, had to quit due to back injury from all the high kick. But I never stop practicing at home. I have two heavy bags and still working on them every week, never stop. I also do weight training. I am still putting in about 7 hours a week in exercising.

That said, I felt good, still strong.................Until like 65. BUT then, I do get weaker even though I try very hard. Injuries start kicking in. I definitely not as strong as 10 years ago. I am not that strong nor very talent in MA, I just never stop trying. 10 years ago, I could bench 2 to 3 reps of 225lbs, 2 years ago, I could only do 7reps of 185lbs. I since working out at home due to shutting down, so I cannot gauge.

No, I don't feel just as good and just as strong as I get old. 65 seems to be a magic number, I never had knee problem, after 65, one day when I walked down the stairs, my knee buckled and almost fell down the stairs. I since has knee problem that I never injury before, just out in the blue.

I still push in weights, I still wear two weight jackets total of 72lbs to do pushups at home as bench press, 4 sets total with 20, 18, 13 and 10 reps (less reps from set to set) once a week. But I doubt I can do 7 reps of 185lbs as free weight bench press is harder.

NO, there's nothing good about getting old. I try, I really try. My speed gets slower also. Maybe that's just me, but I have suspicion that a lot of older people are fooling themselves to feel good. Yes, I can easily out muscle and fight ordinary people that are in the 40s, but come on, compare to a young person that is in shape and trained....................? Yes, I do look quite a bit younger............for my age. But trying to compare to even to a 45? I am not going to kid myself.

BUT, I am not giving up, still do exercise, my goal is to be mobile when I get old, I also exercise my brain, designing very high end hifi power amps, just learn C++ programming from a book cover to cover last year. Going to learn Python programming with my grand daughter this summer. Just got my 3rd US patent in electronics design from a contract work in 2016. Retirement is as busy as ever.
 
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Monkey Turned Wolf

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Just so you know, the ranks you see listed under members names are just an indication of how many posts theyve made on this forum. Its just a fun way to indicate how active someone is on the discussion boards and has nothing to do with any rank they may have in the martial arts.

(KFW does also have a lot of decades practicing and teaching martial arts, but that doesnt stop anyone else from arguing with him. :) )
John likely could be called a senior grandmaster and I don't think most would bat an eye. Maybe him, but that's about it.
 

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