Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Aging and Martial Arts

Before getting to the meat of this post, I want to make readers aware of the upcoming Lenten Challenge.

Every year, I throw out the Lenten Challenge to my martial arts buddies. It has nothing to do with Christianity or religion (unless you want it to). We are simply using this time as a convenient reminder to rededicate ourselves to our training. It’s kind of hard to miss either Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, the last day before Lent, which is also Paczki Day!) or Easter Sunday (Bunnies, candy, colored eggs; that stuff). Several of us have been doing this for years now.

The challenge is this: from Ash Wednesday (Feb 10) until the day before Easter (Mar 26), train every day, without fail, no excuses; even if you have to move mountains. Simple enough said, a little harder to do.

It's not as easy as it sounds; things come up. Some days, you might only be able to get a few minutes of training in; but the point is to do it everyday, no matter what.

It doesn't have to be martial arts training either. Whatever it is that you need to really rededicate yourself to: studying, practicing an instrument, walking, watching what you eat, immersing yourself in something new; anything - do it every day, without fail.

In the past on some forums, people have posted what they’ve done everyday. I think everyone who’s done that has become tired of writing, and the others get tired of reading it. 

How about you just post if you’ve had some breakthrough, or you’ve had to overcome some unusual circumstance to continue your training? Maybe just check in every once in a while to let everyone know you’re keeping at it, or to encourage everyone else to keep at it.

If you fail, no one will hate you. If you fall off of the wagon, climb back on board. Start anew.

For those of you who already train everyday anyway, by all means continue and be supportive of the rest of us. For the rest of us who intend to train everyday, but sometimes come up short due to life’s propensity for unraveling even the best laid plans, here is an opportunity to put a stake in the ground and show your resolution.

Won't you join me?

I'm no spring chicken anymore.

While checking in for the 2016 Disney World Marathon, we happened to meet and have a nice conversation with a senior runner.

He was 87, stood straight, was clear eyed and was sharp as could be. He took up running after he retired and is still at it. He had been participating in the Disney events (5K, 10K, half or full marathons) since 1997. 

He had run many of the marathons, even doing the Dopey Challenge (the 5K, 10K, half and full on consecutive days) four times. He's even run with his wife, kids and grand kids (a total of 14 of them on the track).

One time he qualified for the Boston Marathon, which in itself is a feat. At mile 24, he tripped, fell and broke his hip though. 3 months later he ran his first post recovery 5K.

Now with age, he is only (only!) running 10Ks. He says that he isn't beating anyone anymore; he's just outliving them.

There is a new role model for me.

Well, what about martial arts? What is the aging martial artist to do?

Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at Aging Martial Artists, on this very topic. The full post may be read here.

These concerns apply to anyone who is reaching their winter years but for martial artists it means a change in how we practice, train, teach and apply martial arts and karate. This article will only discuss those aging effects that have special meaning to us.

Bones, our skeletal system, the bones start to lose marrow, etc. and lead toward weaker bones. In our advanced age it can result in brittleness. This means all those awesome things we did in our twenties should be tempered to take this into consideration because broken bones are easier to encounter in harder training and practice. 

Our muscles and therefore our strength due to loss of muscle tissue, etc., result in weaker muscles so our strength, to which many rely on heavily, will no longer carry the day especially in self-defense applications, i.e., defending against attackers in the real world. 

Our metabolism changes and with that, if we don’t adjust for eating habits, will add on weight while reduce body mass, i.e., muscular mass. Our bodies will not have the same ability to continue working efficiently unless we hydrate a lot more. Then there is hearing loss.

Hearing is a sense we use, along with sight and touch, to detect things in our environment. We lose hearing, our sight diminishes and our touch is not as sensitive. All of these are really necessary to achieve proficiency in applying martial and karate skills in competition as well as self-defense. 

Now, here is one that should get all the guys attention - the secretion of testosterone diminishes. You can image how that effects our body and especially our mind-set because a lot of our youthful ability is carried by our testosterone and why the age of military and other like professions has an age thing.

Our joints suffer and things like ligaments and cartilage tend to become less flexible and succumb to injuries that younger folks can avoid by their health and fitness.


walt said...

Your encounter with the Octogenarian Runner sounds like a moving experience!

I was watching a Tai Chi dvd featuring Chris Pei, and he mentioned that when your muscles are strained or sore, you can still move -- but when your joints hurt, you cannot. Movement ---> synovial fluid = lubrication.

And, you might enjoy Move Your DNA, a recent book by bio-mechanist Katy Bowman. In one section, she explains how, yes, the heart provides the impetus for our blood to move in the body -- but only to a certain extent; it is actually the moving muscles that PULL the blood to the extremities, capillaries, and out-of-the-way places. And you know: blood carries oxygen, and without oxygen we get anaerobic activity, i.e., decay. It's that old saw about "vital air" that the Taoists obsess about.

Rick Matz said...

Thanks for the leads, Walt. I'll certainly look them up.

Compass Architect said...

Walt. .... Good advice and good suggestion.