This is not too extreme for the aging body and mind.
“Aging is not for the weak at heart.”
Can you imagine your parents or grandparents kicking a hanging bag, or rolling on the mats in their basement or at the local Dojo?
Why not? With a growing aging community and people living longer, age-related diseases will increase and the epidemic will continue to grow.
“Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.”
In my opinion this quote has several meanings. It can mean to beware of an old soldier who heroically continues to fight on the battlefield, and it can also mean respect the older man who still maintains a healthy mind and body and fights age-related diseases.
According to 2016 statistics, there are 36,290,000 people living in Canada. Around 50 percent of them are over the age of 40. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/demo10a-eng.htm.
Currently there are more seniors than children living in Canada. In 2016, the margin was very close, with children under 14 years old making up 16.6 percent of the population and seniors making up 16.9 percent. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/statistics-canada-seniors-1.3248295. http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/what-the-census-tells-us-about-canadas-aging-population/
It is reported that almost 25 percent of the Canadian population will be over 65 years of age by 2031.
That’s a lot of grandparents that will need attention and care from their younger families.
“First we form habits, then they form us.” — Jim Rohn
I think one of the best investments for young adults is to embark on an active lifestyle, one that will set them up for healthy habits for the rest of their lives. The building blocks to longevity must start early. A compelling lifestyle to choose from is the journey of Martial Arts. Here are six reasons why:
1) May slow down deterioration: Dalhousie University in Halifax reports after thirty years of age, loss of muscle mass and strength, brittle bones and stiff joints are inevitable. In seniors, cognitive function is reduced. Adopting an active lifestyle that includes exercising, stretching and coordination drills slows down the aging process.
2) Motivation: Unlike gym memberships, martial arts is highly goal oriented. The lack of goal orientation in gyms accounted for 80 percent of gym members quitting after five months of joining, according to this story written in January 2012. (https://www.creditdonkey.com/gym-membership-statistics.html). Martial Arts is not designed to be a temporary cure. It is designed to be a lifestyle because it is based on achievements and constant improvement which drives the students to be committed for life.
3) Skill and Art: Martial Arts offers so much more than what gyms do. Apart from strengthening the bones, muscles and heart, martial arts offers skills to defend, discipline for the mind, mental agility and coordination, balance, and inclusion in a supportive community. Also, the constant practicing of the dynamic sequences of complex techniques improves motor coordination.
4) The Mind: Although “crystallized” intelligence like factual knowledge and experience is retained in older adults, the cognitive functions that deteriorate during aging are the “fluid” intelligence such as working memory and processing speed. This has an effect on word fluency and problem solving ability. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254615000939). The mindfulness and focus-demanding aspect of Martial Arts training can help keep the aging mind occupied and active. It has been said that a mind not being used will deteriorate, leading to possible dementia.
5) Elderly Abuse: In 2014, Canadian data sadly reported that elderly abuse doubled in its previous 10 years. Abuses can be sexual, financial, physical, verbal and psychological. If seniors are mentally and physically dependent on others, they may fall victim. Martial Arts empowers its students because it teaches self-dignity, self-respect, self defense and assertiveness (not aggressiveness). Making the right choices and standing up for oneself can help avoid negative situations and relationships. Defending oneself emotionally and physically is priceless. Living an extended life with more independence is very attractive for the aging person.
6) Community and Family: One of our worst fears is aging alone. We cannot always depend on family and close friends because even they will pass; children grow up and leave home, so we cannot depend on other’s obligation to care for us. This is why being part of a community helps broaden our relationship base. A martial arts community is a positive environment where long lasting relationships develop, offsetting loneliness, dependency and depression.
Get More In One Art:
The exercises that assist in balance such as yoga and tai chi are the most popular for the aging population. Then there are the exercises that strengthen the heart such as hiking, swimming, walking and jogging. Let’s not forget strength training exercises for counteracting osteoporosis.
Since all are important, why not take advantage of them in one style that marries cardio, stretching, strength, and balance with an added bonus of self-defence skills? Martial arts offers this and saves more time by blending all the multiple benefits in one physical activity.
One disadvantage I can think of from my own twenty years of experience is recovery time between intense training sessions and from injuries. Time to recuperate from wear and tear needs to be longer for me otherwise over-training can lead to chronic injuries.
Another reason is competition. Although updated science-based lifestyles for older athletes have made it possible for them to compete professionally (like Dara Torres who was 41 when she won silver in swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games, or Randy Couture, who knocked out heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia when he was 43 years old, or even George Foreman, was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer and regained the heavy weight title) a small minority of elders compete due to time, priorities and financial reasons.
The Added Bonus:
The individualism in martial arts training makes it highly personal and the true enemies to battle are within the students. “Enemies” like self-doubt, depression, low self-esteem, aggressive anger, destructive behavior and preventative diseases need constant interventions. Martial Arts strengthens the mind and heart for life, making the art invaluable for the disciple.
Styles For The Wiser Population:
Choose from one of the styles and stay committed for life:
Karate — Very traditional. Sharp moves. Increasingly dynamic strikes. Self defense blocking.
Kickboxing — Aerobic (good for the heart), increases reactive timing from its quick drills training
Jiu Jitsu — Grappling and submissions. Great self-defense on the ground.
Kung Fu — Deep, stable stances working on fast hand movements.
Krav Maga — Focusing mostly on quick self-defense take downs. Used in the military and police force.
Thai Chi — A soft martial art increasing balance and flexibility.
Master Ingrid’s Advice On Aging And Martial Arts:
My instructor and mentor Master Ingrid Katzberg’s wise words:
“Anyone and everyone should do fitness regardless of age or weight. Having said that, of course the measure of activity has to be realistic to the individual person. It is very hard to have a standard on what someone is capable of doing or not. I personally think that someone who has been training in the same sport or in fitness for years is ageless. What I mean to say is that age does not define the person in their activity. Each individual person is their own master in what they are capable of doing or not. It’s what effort they put into achieving that goal which decides if they achieve it or not, not their age.”
Call To Action:
If you enjoyed this article you may like reading: “Ageism: right up there with racism and sexism?”
If you have been harboring a desire to try out martial arts I hope this article has opened your mind and heart to look for a school in your community. Share this article with a friend or relative to visit a martial arts school together.
If you live in Vancouver come visit Champions Martial Arts Academy in North Vancouver. It is one of the largest martial arts school in Canada with the latest state of the art facilities and a tight and experienced Instructor’s team. They serve kids, youths, adults and seniors.
I am currently on a journey and I am enjoying it. I enjoy writing and sharing my personal stories with you. I hope they touch upon an exclusive emotion or thought. I am trying to be as authentic as I can be to find your most obscure self in hopes of giving it light.
For those of us who are aging, we are very privileged because we have an opportunity to know more about our mysterious selves and to find richer meaning in our lives.
I would love to read about your thoughts so please do not hesitate to comment as honestly as you can. This is that kind of platform where you can open up to your own discovery.