Aging Martial Artists

When older martial arts are practice many tend to think, Tai Chi Chuan. Where older practitoners are seen in parks, etc. making slow movements that are graceful, rhythmic and peaceful. Aging martial artists have to deal with those aging issues just like people who are not martial artist but one of the great things about martial arts is that one can practice the arts regardless of their age.

Tai Chi Chuan is a wonderful and beneficial system for any age but is especially beneficial, in my view, to those who have reached the, “Winter Years” of life. It is a wonderful time of life, the age beyond the first sixty years. The changes nature inflicts on us can be mitigated by certain mental and physical efforts and this blog is about how the effort of martial arts practice can and does mitigate and alleviate the aging processes.

So, this blog will be about that aging process and how the practice of martial arts can help. The first article that will follow will simply list those aging issues that directly relate to the practice of martial arts such as balance as it relates to falling. As with any effort such as this it warrants the readers effort in understanding that this effort is from a non-professional view and with that stated I encourage each reader review the caveat provided here and at the start of each article. I also encourage each and every person who is taking up this practice to make sure it meets approval by your personal medical professional. Get that before you try to participate in martial arts or any program that would benefit you as you age.

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Bibliography (Click the link)

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Aging, Sugar and Karate

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Why all three of these under one heading? Well, it is like this, we age and when we age we succumb to certain effects of the aging process. Many of those processes have been mentioned in previous posts. 

In this short article I am going to try to cover just a small part of what can be done to slow down that aging process and its effects. We as karate-ka and martial artists focus on the physical and give lip service to the other aspects of energy used to “energize” our practice, training and applications. As we age our ability to practice, train and apply karate and martial arts does diminish and change but that has been covered before in previous articles as well. 

What I want to do here is provide the aging karate-ka and martial artist a bit about the fuel we use to energize our disciplines. We talk about our strength, we talk about techniques, and we talk about competitions, combatives and self-defense to name just a few of the types of karate and martial arts out there. We talk about how our practice of basics, kata, sparring, etc., create strong bodies, minds and spirits but we seldom talk about the things needed outside of the physical practice to reach mastery and maximized energy, force and power - all needed to make our disciplines work. 

Lets talk about stress, stress has a huge impact on our lives - physically, mentally and therefore spiritually. Stress results in our bodies impacts on inflammation which underlies diseases that adversely effect how our bodies function and how that function works one way or the other to either combat stress or exacerbate stress. Stress triggers in some instances the adrenal stress dump and conditions that result in tension as well as many other negative manifestations detriment to the application of self-defense, etc. For instance, when we get tense our muscles tense and that drains energy, bleeding it off the flow of energy toward production of power and force. 

Karate and martial arts are disciplines that relieve and reduce stress. The principles of the disciplines are what live and breathe within karate and martial arts that relieve and reduce stress through appropriate training toward those goals, i.e., such as training the mind through both sitting and moving meditation; mushin and zanshin training and practice to train the mind to remain in the present moment while ignoring the past and future monkey mind chatter that by the way exacerbates stress, etc. When we enter the dojo, we meditate to take our minds out of the world and into ourselves in preparation for dojo training and practice. All of this and more contribute to stress reduction. 

Sugar simply adds fuel to those flames of inflammation adding to the stresses contributions where karate and martial arts combats those forces but what is still needed is removal of sugars from the diet, the fuel that feeds our engine, both mind and body. It must be remembered as well in contemplating this idea that sugar comes in many forms, most bad. The bad forms, I firmly believe, are those types of sugars created through science. If you want or need sugar in the body take it from consumption of fruits, etc. in their natural forms. Be guarded as well labels that profess the sugar additives come from fruits because, I believe, the processing actually kills the good of that sugar and converts it into the bad but advertisements use that to convince you that new fruit like sugar is good, it is not. 

Another way to contribute to anti-aging is to exercise regularly and smartly. Regularly while avoiding boredom and maintaining the gratification the disciplines provide if done correctly. Smartly is about all the peripheral aspects to health, fitness and well-being, i.e., by the fuel we use and by the methods we incorporate in practice and training of karate and martial arts. Making those adjustments due to the aging process previously discussed in other articles applies here too. 

Studies repeatedly show that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help prevent or delay your onset of hypertension, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the falls that lead to hip fracture.“ - Dr. Mercola

Sugar is a pollutant of the body, it is a toxin that actually sucks your energy and strength right out of you that is often hidden in our youth by our mind-state and efforts to build muscular strength where often that strength hides the effects. If we removed bad sugar those strengths would increase by a considerable amount without increasing efforts in strength building processes. 

Sugar, the bad kind, contains no essential nutrients that would contribute toward the energy and strength necessary for long duration vs. the burst of energy known as, “Sugar High,” that almost always ends in a sharp dive in energy levels called the “Crash.” 

Sugar, the bad kind, effects hormones, the brain (think mind-set and mind-state needs), and has unique fat promoting effects. Because the calories from sugar don’t fulfill your appetite you end up consuming more to increase calorie intake. It is also addictive because it causes massive dopamine to be released in the brain. It’s a huge contributor to huge weight gains, another previous article talks about this as well. 

Sugar exists in many forms besides just the white powdered (usually GMO) beet sugar we can pick up at the grocery store. Sugar in all of its forms (including corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup) affects the body in a powerful way and we are consuming more of it now than ever before.” - Wellness Mama

… Sugar also makes the blood very thick and sticky, inhibiting much of the blood flow …
… Diabetes is another commonly known disease caused by sugar as well as a high fat diet …
… Hypoglycemia occurs when the pancreas overreacts to the large amount of sugar in the blood and releases too much insulin leaving one with the "tired" feeling as the blood sugar level becomes lower than it should be …

“EFFECT OF SUGAR ON NEUROLOGICAL PROCESSES ...One of the keys to orderly brain function is glutamic acid, and this compound is found in many vegetables. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria in the intestines, which manufacture B vitamin complexes, begin to die-these bacteria normally thrive in a symbiotic relationship with the human body. When the B vitamin complex level declines, the glutamic acid (normally transformed into "go" "no-go" directive neural enzymes by the B vitamins) is not processed and sleepiness occurs, as well as a decreased ability for short-term memory function and numerical calculative abilities. The removal of B vitamins when foods are "processed" makes the situation even more tenuous.”

Ok, this is becoming very complex but after reading some quotes, considering some of my ideas and views and then doing some considerable research on your own you will come to the conclusion that all our efforts to create a strong body, mind and spirit in karate and martial arts are being countered with every drop of sugar consumed. 

Take it to the serious tone, if you are attacked and find yourself in a physical situation needed self-defense you will need to have your full and complete faculties available to achieve success in defending yourself. You diminish that by consuming sugar.

You also damage your body, mind and spirit with sugar making your efforts to achieve a healthy, fit and livable life in those winter years very, very difficult. 

Sugar causes and promotes:
  • Makes your blood acidic
  • Can lead to osteoporosis (weak bones = weak structure; bones break easily, etc. not conducive to continued practice and training, etc.)
  • Contributes to obesity (changes energy levels bleeding off force and power; conveys certain perceptions; causing other physical and mental issues detrimental to health and the ability to practice and train, etc.)
  • Provides 'empty calories' with no nutritional value (see energy loss and obesity, etc.)
  • Robs your body of minerals (minerals necessary to maximize body and mind state and abilities, etc.)
  • Robs you of energy (No energy, no force and no power - need we say more here)
  • Contributes to adrenal fatigue [see below] (fatigue makes you want to rest, resting is good but overdone means no training or practice and that makes aging more difficult while these things along with training and practice will overcome such obstacles)
  • Raises the level of neurotransmitters called serotonin (Serotonin: Serotonergic dysfunction will influence aggression differently, depending on the individual's impulse control, emotional regulation, and social abilities. Do some research because serotonin along with other such chemicals affect our ability to handle things)
  • Weakens eyesight (although eyesight directly may not be of critical concern in defense it does effect our peripheral and losing that would be a hindrance in application of the disciplines in defense but also our health and motivation toward combating the aging process that is already hard enough in the best of conditions)
  • Can cause aging (aren’t we trying to forstall the aging process or at least the more negative effects of aging for a life worth living as we age, to remain mobile, etc.?)
  • Can cause arthritis (arthritis means movement and the inability to maintain movement causes a whole slew of effects that simply cascade toward a bad aging process)

and a whole lot more…

  • Cravings for sugar (a vicious circle, eat sugar then crave it then eat it until sugar consumes your health and causes you to age beyond your real age)
  • Cravings for salt on food when you eat (salt the second of the triad of evil foods, i.e., sugar, SALT and fat :-)
  • Feel dehydrated and thirsty and require plenty of water (all I can say is if you don’t counter it through diet changes you will suffer from vertigo when reaching those winter years; I suffered from vertigo and it changes everything including how you approach practice and training; Yet, my practice and training contributed immensely to overcoming vertigo and returning to almost normal)
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night, sleep lightly or wake early or often (proper sleep means proper health and fitness means proper body and mind as to restful reanimation and body mind growth and conditioning; loss of energy and stress from lack of sleep, etc)
  • Difficulty relaxing, nervous, anxious or hyperactive (all stress conditions as well as adversely affecting our thinking processes leading to the possibility of monkey antics that cause escalation, etc. and actions you normally would not take; aging while practicing and training tend ot counter this so exacerbating it by continue to ingest sugar seems counter productive)
  • Often spacey, or foggy thinking, even memory loss (can think, get spacey leave you vulnerable; memory loss is not conducive to healthy aging, look it up)
  • Lack willpower to accomplish (maybe that is why so many end up quitting karate and martial arts. It may not be about want or need but a mind effect that just says, “Who cares, I quit,” and means aging processes will overtake you)
  • General exhaustion (loss of energy; loss of force and power; loss of motivation to move and remain healthy; loss of desire to age well through training and practice; leads to living under a home of aged and diapers - oh my)
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Low libido (ok, guys, do I really need to address this one and if nothing else convinces you the inability to perform just might do it, right?)
  • Weight gain, especially in abdomen and waist area (already discussed elsewhere)
  • Losing muscle tone (already discussed elsewhere)
  • Sagging skin, dry, yellow or pale in color (ugh, just makes you ugly and if that is ok with you go for it but remember that aging may make it much, much worse)
  • Hair starting to gray, thin out and become dry (a matter of personal preferences but aging will make it worse, maybe you want to forestall that effect)
  • Lips losing their color (already discussed elsewhere)
  • Loss of appetite (already discussed elsewhere)
  • Anorexia (already discussed elsewhere)
  • Weight loss (already discussed elsewhere and not the kind of weight loss that is good for you simply from the way you lose the weight; like smoking to keep your weight down so you look good until cancer rears its ugly head)
  • High blood sugar (already discussed elsewhere)
It is believed that adrenal fatigue is an underlying factor in just about every physical, emotional and spiritual (can everyone say, mind-body-spirit, how goes that karate and martial arts training and practice now; kind of counter productive to continue consuming sugar, fat and salt don’t you think?) problem.

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