Tips As You Age In The Martial Arts
When I started martial arts in my mid-twenties, I thought my skill level would always continue to improve even as I aged. Since I regularly lifted weights, performed cardio and stretched, I thought I could battle Father Time to a draw. Like so many combat athletes before me, I discovered Father Time beats us all.
Whether we want to face it or not, we have to make adjustments in our training to keep practicing martial arts into our senior years. Each of us is unique but here are the adjustments I’ve made as my driver’s license tells me I’m closing in on 50.
One adjustment I made a few years ago was to stop doing jumping and flying kicks. I was never much of a high flyer, so it wasn’t a big sacrifice but helped relieve the pressure on my knees. I joke with the students that my nearly-fifty rule is one foot stays in contact with the ground at all times.
I also stopped practicing Judo. Taking a few dozen falls a class would be tolerable but most Judo classes involve hundreds of falls. In my early 40s, I transitioned to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While BJJ contains some throws, the focus is ground grappling and self-defense. It is easier on my body.
Recently, I had to make a big sacrifice. I gave up full-contact Olympic Sparring but also stepped away from point sparring. I love sparring and still enjoyed getting out there with the students and mixing it up. However, the chance for injury was becoming too great.
For the next ten years, my focus will be on forms (which I love), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and improving with the cane. As I near 60, I may have to make a few more adjustments but right now I focus on what I can do and don’t lament what I can’t or shouldn’t.
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