Karate and Shortened lifespan?


White Belt
Jun 14, 2009
Reaction score

Anyone ever hear anything about this study? Thoughts?

I can MAYBE see a chronic inflammatory state from hours of constant daily Okinawan body conditioning/hardening that the
Masters of old COULD perhaps contribute to some maladies...but geez!
Last edited by a moderator:


Master Black Belt
Dec 6, 2006
Reaction score
I study goju ryu. Sad thing is one of my senseis and coaches was found dead in his appartment age 48. And another of my sensei, actually an incredibly fight fit and gifted tournament fighter had a heart attach while we were training defense and grappling one Saturday morning, he's ok now. The club sensei, much older than the others and who I understand trained in the hard conditioning ways for many many years has had to have a hip opperation/replacement (it was my tournament coache's view head sensei damaged his body from excessive hard conditioning).

I personally don't know if there is any link but have never bought in to having to do an excessive amount of conditioning - impact conditioning - to be a great fighter. And having inch thick callouses on your knuckles sure doesn't get you the girls these days, hideous things (inch thick callouses that is, not girls).
Sure I worked very heavy muay thai bags and shin conditioned on tree trunks when I was competing seriously but never to the degree of deadening nerve endings. There are some great muay thai guys who now in their forties can hardly walk let alone kick anything.
Time is always a constraint (as to what you can focus on in your training) but most of my training with karate and weights has been of the hard type, even goju's internal aspects and sanchin are of a 'hard' type when compared to alternatives. I think if possible something like yoga should be included to offset this somewhat and be more holistic for the body's wellbeing.


MT Mentor
Oct 20, 2007
Reaction score
Phoenix, AZ
Interesting topic. In recent years I've also begun to wonder about the "Yoda" stereotype of the ancient martial arts master enjoying surprising longevity and health that belie his years. I've begun to doubt the positive value of some conditioning practices ...as I have begun to feel their adverse effects. And, aside from the negative effects of inflammation from hard training, conditioning exercises and sparring, what about the cumulative long-term effects of taking shots to the head during sparring? All the recent evidence of the effects of concussions is worth thinking about.

I hear a lot from some people about the necessity of being able to "take a hit", and to frequently spar with heavy contact. That may well be necessary to be a competitve fighter, but the science is increasingly clear about the risks involved. As I'm getting on a bit (I'm now 58) I feel that personally the cost of such training outweights the benefits. As it is I get injured more and more frequently, take forever to heal, I hobble around like a cripple, and hurt most of the time. So I'm by necessity resolving to focus on the gentler side of the arts I train. Eventually we all must pay for the excesses of our youth.

Latest Discussions