Baby Boomer Martial Arts Speak Wisdom?
Old karate baby boomer speaks wisdom? When you reach a certain age, say baby boomer age, ideas spin in your head; ideas, that may or may not make sense due to informational overload, years of experience doing way too many things, but yet yearning to do so much more. In the movie Shaolin, lyrics in the title song said...let me plant a seed of good will and walk this road of life together with you. Sometimes, all it takes is a seed. How we define this, is totally up to us.
As we age, we still have opportunities to learn, fulfill dreams, experience more, make a difference and help make this world a better place to live.
If you have ideas, feel free to send me your thoughts to:
Friday, March 22, 2013
Retired baby boomers with time on their hand are now considering taking martial arts whether it be karate, tae kwon do, kung fu, or tai chi. Though many have joined the softer and less aggressive arts like qigong or tai chi, a percentage of them are donning cotton white gis and attending karate classes. Some old timers in denial attempt mix martial arts till they end up the emergency room: Mind is willing but the body says no. Many that have decided to go back into martial arts after retirement are those with some experience, quitting, years back as lower ranking belts returning to finally earn the coveted black belt. Some do so after watching their kids through the years take martial arts but didn’t have the guts to take it then. For whatever reason, it’s something that baby boomers want to do now; a bucket list kind of thing.
First of all I admire anyone wanting to take martial arts regardless of age. Being a baby boomer sensei, I still practice both karate and tai chi almost every day. I don’t attend a dojo or teach classes though I’ve been asked to start a school for AARP card carrying members, martial arts for seniors.
Several weeks ago, I helped judge a tournament and reconnected with fellow martial artist who I’ve known throughout the years. Of course, everyone looked so much older, and not as spry in the legs as in before. To my surprise, many of them still practice in a dojo and pride in surviving, arthritis and all. A close friend and sensei, Ron Lok who is now a high ranking black belt, near if not already 60 years old says he still practices this very difficult kata, Kusankudai, and says with “explosive power.” He also mentioned that he trains with a group of others who are not only in their 60’s but 70’s. Before hearing this, for the past five years, I’ve abandoned almost all karate training due to painful arthritis, sticking with qigong and tai chi; but, after hearing all of my colleagues at advanced ages saying that they’re still working out like young kids, I had to resume my karate training. To my surprise, I was able to get through workouts without much difficulty, no worse than lifting weights or running on a treadmill. I’m of course not going full out like I used to when I was a kid, but nevertheless, adequate enough to feel my heart pound out of my chest and sweat heavy enough to soak my uniform. My arthritis pain had not gone away nor got worse a surprise for me since I expected more pain and grief.
What I’ve learned at my age is that pain will not go away. It’s something I've learn to deal with and get on with my life. Almost all of us, of course there are exceptions, aren’t as athletic as we were 20 or 30 years ago. We aren’t expected to perform as if we are in our 20’s or 30’s, but our lack of youth or athleticism shouldn’t be a deterrent to take martial arts past our 50’s. What needs to happen is a smart approach. Consulting with a doctor is one smart step. For those of you with serious medical conditions, a discussion with a doctor is not only recommended but mandatory. Strenuous karate workouts could result to serous results; for example, obese individuals with heart conditions would be best to start off with tai chi instead of karate, tae kwon do, kenpo or kung fu.
I think we old timers know where our bodies are and should listen well to the signals. When I decided to reconnect with karate, I knew I was physically fit to handle the workout: I just had a bad back and two bad knees. I learned to hold back on snap kicks and hard twisting motions.
As you decide which school to attend, recon first, see if gray haired grandpas and grandmas in the class or if the instructor’s like me, a senior citizen. Young instructors think they can teach old folks the same as they teach young’uns. Mistake! If possible, join schools that have classes strictly for the 50+ crowd. There’s a place in Naples, Florida called “Bucket List Martial Arts” that teaches classes specifically to baby boomers. It’s got a motto: “If you’re a kid or want to learn cage fighting, go elsewhere.” I think it’s such a neat concept that I might do something like that here in California, so a martial arts school for senior citizens just might be around your corner.
So to you baby boomer martial art wanna-bee’s; talk first to a doctor, listen to your body, be positive, and find a school with baby boomer sensei’s that share your pain.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last week I got a nice email from Harry Grimm, founder and instructor of Bucket List Martial Arts in Naples, Florida. Don’t know exactly where Naples is but I know that Florida is clear across the United States from California, way too far for me to take a week end drive, share ice tea and strike up a conversation. Instead, I decided to do the next best thing: visit his website and read his blog. As with many blogs written by martial artists, he provided similar ideas to my own, concepts I’m familiar with. One posting, however, intrigued me and touched my heart. It was a simple story about Arnie Salo, who at 77-years-old enrolled in one of his classes as part of something he wanted to cross off from his personal “bucket list.” True to his goal, Arnie practiced till he reached 80-years-old and earned a brown belt.
The first time I heard of the term “bucket list” was when I saw the movie with the same name starring Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Though it didn’t do well in theaters and reviews were less than impressive, I liked the movie. I was able to see how important it was to reach personal goals regardless of how farfetched they were.
With that said, I still had to ask the question: Why now? Why wait till 77-years-old? The blog did not say what motivated Mr. Salo or why he waited so long. Perhaps as retirement resolved careers and family commitments, he like many individuals in the twilight years of our lives have an opportunity to be selfish but yet still make an impact: to finally earn that college degree; rebuild the beat up old 1958 Chevy that sits quietly in the garage; run a marathon or triathlon; write a book; start a new business; paint a picture; learn to play a piano; teach under privilege children some of our wisdom; walk the face of Mt. Whitney…fulfill an urge that started way back when actors like Robert Conrad in “Wild Wild West,” David Carradine in “Kung Fu” and Bruce Lee in “The Green Hornet” and “Enter the Dragon” opened our eyes to Asian martial arts?
Sensei Harry for years taught martial arts for all ages. Now he has a school specifically for Bucket List students. Never in my mind I'd consider teaching a class specifically for old folks, but then, in the past few years, my body has reminded me of my age, how I've changed, gotten older. Could it be possible for the Baby Boomer Sensei to un-retire the starchy white uniform and open up a school for those who don’t care about fighting in an MMA cage, or perform acrobatic kata, or win eight foot trophies; but instead, learn martial arts for what it is, a method to perfect one’s character; endeavor for something worthwhile; be true to a culture and custom; respect oneself and another’s way of life; and finally participate in a behavior that is positive and beneficial. Could this be one of many reasons why Sensei Harry Grimm decided to start up a Bucket List of his own by helping others cross off a line on theirs?
Sunday, February 24, 2013
This 66-year-old dog recently began taking bo staff lessons after seeing some of the amazing things that can be done with this ancient weapon. The bo staff is one of the most popular weapons used in martial-arts tournaments, and I've got to say that we've come a very long way from the old wooden staff that might have been used, say, a thousand years ago.
To begin with, competition bo staffs generally are no longer clunky, hand-carved wooden items. Most of them are tapered so that they can generate more speed, and they come in a wide range of materials, from wood to graphite. The more exotic lightweight staffs aren't designed for actual combat, of course; they're meant to be spun, twirled, jabbed, and whipped at imaginary opponents in a formal exercise that's judged for creativity, fluidity, and precision.
Now I should mention right up front that I'll never be a world champion with the bo staff. In fact, so far I have countless bruises that give testimony to the difficulty of mastering the fancier bo staff techniques. But so far I haven't broken anything -- well, no bones . . . but perhaps a few household objects and a couple of wooden bo staffs -- and I'm gradually getting my brain and body to cooperate in the venture.
This, by the way, is what my bo staff training is all about. When you cease challenging your body and mind, they figure it's okay to slow down. And before you know it, you've merged your atoms with those of the living room couch and the TV remote. Not good.
But there's something else about the bo staff that has become quite apparent as I check out my new bruises each day. Even a lightweight competition bo staff can generate tremendous striking force, the combination of speed and a small impact surface. Yes, those ancient warriors knew what they were doing when they first began using wooden staffs as weapons.
What can you and I do with this information? As we age and inevitably lose muscle strength, we can substitute a simple weapon in our self-defense arsenal. Think cane. Think walking stick. Here you have two common objects that are often found in the hands of seniors anyway, so why not learn how to use them for self-defense?
If you want to see what a simple cane can do, head to Google or your favorite search engine and look for YouTube videos on "cane self-defense," "cane fu," or anything similar. You'll find lots of videos, some better than others, all of which demonstrate that something as basic as a cane can become a highly effective weapon when used with a bit of skill. And listen: you don't need to become a competitive athlete to use a cane effectively, nor do you need to hold a black belt in some martial art. What you need is some basic training and the willingness to say, "If necessary, I WILL DEFEND MYSELF."
What's that you say? You don't need a cane for walking? So what? Buy a cane, take some lessons at a local martial arts school, and begin carrying the cane whenever you're headed someplace where trouble might be waiting, especially at night. Knowing how to disable an attacker with a swiftly applied cane or walking stick could one day save your wallet or your life.
Interested? Check around for senior-friendly martial arts schools in your area. You may also find that a local senior center offers a class in self-defense using a cane or walking stick.
Posted by Russ Johnson at http://seniormartialarts.blogspot.com
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
"If you want to do something that's fun, different and good for self-defense -- and good for long-term self-defense against disease -- do the martial arts," says study author and physical therapist Dr. Peter Douris, of the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, N.Y.
His findings appear in the March 25 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
For most people, the decision to get fit usually means buying a gym membership or shelling out money for expensive home-exercise equipment. But what about alternative methods, such as practicing the martial arts?
In their study, Douris' team examined the overall fitness of 18 individuals between 40 and 60 years of age. Nine of the study participants had been practicing soo bahk do, a Korean martial art similar to karate or tae kwon do, for about three years. The other nine participants maintained a more or less "couch potato" lifestyle.
Overall, the soo bahk do devotees "were much more flexible, had more leg strength, less body fat, better aerobic conditioning and better balance" compared to the sedentary study subjects, Douris reports.
The martial art practitioners had an average 12 percent less body fat than the non-exercisers, the researchers report. They also seemed much stronger -- while sedentary types could only muster up 37 sit-ups in a row on average, the soo bahk do practitioners averaged 66 sit-ups before exhaustion set in. The martial arts group also displayed more than double the balancing power of non-exercisers and outperformed the sedentary types when it came to flexibility.
The study did not compare the benefits of the martial arts to that of gym workouts, running or other fitness options. However, Douris estimates that the average soo bahk do class raises students' metabolic level -- a measurement of changes in the metabolic rate -- to about a 10, a level equal to that of jogging.
And he believes that older individuals, especially women, needn't be put off by fears they will be injured trying out karate-like sports. "It's not like ju-jitsu or judo, where you're doing a lot of flips and throws," Douris explains. "There isn't that much of that in soo bahk do. You do fall down when you're 'free-sparring,' but there's people in the classes that are 60 years old -- they get right back up. There's plenty of women in these classes, too."
Dr. Douglas McKeag, a sports medicine expert at Indiana University in Indianapolis, believes the martial arts "are a perfectly acceptable way to boost fitness, certainly in middle age it makes a great deal of sense. The sport is capable of delivering the type of stimulus that the body needs to get in shape." But he cautions that, as with any new sport, beginners "have to come at it relatively slowly and intelligently."
Douris, 47, has been practicing soo bahk do and tae kwon do since he was a teenager and says he routinely beats competitors half his age in tournaments. He calls the sport "self-defense against aging."
In a second study, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that another one-on-one contact sport, wrestling, boosts the immune system of adolescent boys.
The researchers measured levels of immune system white blood cells in blood samples from wrestlers aged 14 to 18 years old, taken before and after a typical 90-minute wrestling bout.
Wrestling appears to produce "significant and robust" elevations in immune cells, indicative of a healthy rise in immune function, the researchers report.
The finding came as no surprise to McKeag. "The fact is that wrestling, as with any form of exercise, can keep a person healthy." Exercise stimulates all of the body's organs, he says, including the lungs, heart and other vital structures, creating "a much more efficient body."
Friday, November 16, 2012
Qi gong is one of the most powerful tools for staying young and nourishing longevity. How does it work?
Builds Internal Strength and Suppleness
Unlike other forms of traditional western exercise, qi gong trains the energy of the body to invigorate internal organs to promote balanced health and prolong youthful appearance.
For example, in the Chinese medicine system, the spleen is said to rule the muscles of the body. Certain qi gong movements stimulate the spleen organ and its associated energy pathways. Thus, when one performs qi gong movements that target the spleen, the muscles become more youthful, supple and free of wrinkles (especially in the case of the muscles of the face).
As an example, I am often mistaken for a woman in my early thirties despite being a forty-four years old instructor of qi gong.
Also, since qi gong involves deep breath work, greater levels of oxygen enter the bloodstream to help rejuvenate the internal organs on a cellular level.
Last, on an energetic level, it is said that our essential energy or jing is responsible for youthfulness and housed in the organs of the kidneys.
Qi gong movements nourish the energy of kidneys. Thus, many qi gong masters have strong kidneys and often appear untouched by time.
Creates Youthful Brain Cells
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine discovered that when qi is emitted by qi gong masters, a greater perfusion of blood occurred within the brain.
Greater perfusion of blood nourishes the brain cells to help prevent dementia and other cognitive and mental conditions associated with aging. Thus, performing qi gong can help keep the brain and mind young and vibrant.
Prevents Conditions that Prematurely Age the Body
Qi gong also promotes greater states of relaxation. As a result, heath conditions that are influenced by stress such as premature graying, high blood pressure, and certain types of immunity imbalances, occur less in individuals practicing qi gong.
Manages and Resolves Conditions that Age the Body
Qi gong circle walking is especially effective as a healing tool for people who have cancer. At Stanford University, Dr Arnold Tayam, head instructor of the qi gong program, uses a special form of qi gong walking to help promote greater states of relaxation and rejuvenation to help cancer facilitate greater healing with cancer patients.
Nourishes the Spirit and the Body
Qi Gong facilitates a connection with a higher power through meditation and movement.
David Felton, MD, a renowned immunologist who conducted research at the University of California, found that the immunity system is strengthened by spiritual practices.
Therefore, qi gong, as a spiritual practice, can play a role in helping the immunity system stay balanced to prevent conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis often associated with aging although juvenile forms can also occur.
Creates Youthful Bones
Qi gong nourishes the bones in two ways. By strengthening the internal organ of the kidneys, said to rule the bones in the Chinese medicine system, bones tend to heal faster and have greater protection against degeneration and osteoporosis.
As an example, a 74 years old client who performs qi gong everyday, was able to have her cast removed two weeks ahead of schedule following ankle surgery because her bones mended more rapidly than a similar patient who was half her age but not performing qi gong.
In summary, qi gong can promote greater states of youthfulness and longevity by nourishing the internal organs, muscular and bone systems, and by promoting greater mental and spiritual balance.
Contact Kay Hutchinson, CAMQ, CAMT to enroll in a needle-free, painless acupressure/qi gong face lift program. http://www.aikihealing.com
Author's Bio: Kay Hutchinson is a practitioner of Chinese medicine, energetic life coach and teacher of qi gong movement. She is the founder of Aiki Healing, a private practice in Austin, Texas, and the publisher of "Health Prosperity" a publication dedicated to empowering people to manifest optimum health and wellness.