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

Weight and Age

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

Hey, we age and along with that there are many changes we encounter and one is weight gain. It comes down to diet change, we just cannot eat what we got away with eating when we were young and full of piss and vinegar (kidding). We have to accept and change our ways because as we age we have to put up with changes in our biological state. 

Lets cover some previous material, as we age our muscle will contribute to the increase of fat stored in our bodies. The percentage of muscle in our youth is higher and in our winter years, i.e., over sixty, that percentage diminishes. It can be expressed simply as a loss of muscle cells as we age. Older muscles cells don’t repair as quickly as they did when we were in our teens and early twenties. Muscles also shrink as we age and many don’t really know why but they do. Older muscle the stem cells in them don’t respond to damage. If the muscles don’t get repaired they will “whittle away and die.” 

Guys ain’t going to like this part but as we age we will experience decreases in growth hormones, testosterone levels and that may account for that muscle loss and its inability to replenish. 

Let me provide a quote here, “The muscles cells we have left with get worn out, they are thought of as being the energy powerhouse of the body and that is where most of our calories are burned. It is about metabolism, how efficiently the powerhouse cells - muscle cells in our bodies - burn the energy we bring in.” 

Here is where that paunch comes in for men, if we keep consuming the same caloric intake as we age all those unburned calories turn to fat. For men, that fat tends to settle in our bellies and waistlines. Another quote to keep in mind, The energy powerhouse cells in muscles get damaged with age. That damage accumulates over time and, on top of that, the body's ability to repair that damage also dwindles with aging.”

Now, how does this apply to weight and age, it comes down to exercise and changing our dietary intake as to the quality of the food we ingest as well as how many calories that also get consumed. The quality of the food is one way to reduce the kind of calories that turn to fat then the quantities and periodicity food is consumed also makes the intake as a whole effect the weight we have, gain or lose and hold steady. 

Exercise, in this case from the practice and training of karate and martial arts, has been shown to work all the way up to and even beyond our eighties. Our practice can even help our muscles either maintain or actually get bigger if we continue into those winter years. Connect that with the intake of food for energy, etc. the two combined will reduce and even keep that paunch off the body. It isn’t about looks although your physical presence does convey certain important information to students, it is about health, fitness and the best aging process we can achieve - a really good goal. 

So, why promote karate and martial arts, after all don’t we present a possibly injury issue in older ages due to certain physical and medical aging processes? No, not really, because the practice and training of karate and/or martial arts, if properly adjusted to compensate to these issues stated above, will maintain health and fitness longer, keep that state up as we age and will apply to the mind, spirit as well as body. 

These three aspects along with building on the philosophical principle and sub-principle builds the type of self-confidence and state of mind that will result in a healthy and stable body, mind and spirit. Many other athletic disciplines don’t make for this type of adjustment and when many enter the summer years of life tend to drop that completely, i.e., like playing football as a contact sport, karate and martial arts don’t require contact as we practice in order to continue practicing and training as we age. 

Remember also, the concepts of things like chinkuchi and the breathing dynamic practice of sanchin (by the way the intensity of sanchin does not need to be maintained a levels we practice in younger years, a slight dynamic isometric tension and breathing is awesome as we age) all contribute to healthy skeletal system, muscular system to include tendons and ligaments and cartilage, and our chemical systems, etc. In other words a well rounded system that promotes better lifestyles that lead to better lifestyles as we age. 

As a small side benefit, we can avoid or at least keep that paunch to a minimum. Take a look at yourself, if you are aging and you are developing a paunch then through this self-analysis you may want to look into changing some things because nature isn’t going to change for you, it requires you accept aging and make changes according to natures aging processes. 

As to physical presence, if we allow our bodies as we age to succumb to that aging process without making adjustments then we present that quality to those who “LOOK” to us as examples, as mentors and as Sensei. Is that the impressions you want to imprint on your young students, is this the lessons you want to instill into their mind-states and is this the best way to follow for you, your students and your dojo. If you are ok with that, Great! You still have other aspect of your presence that will often dominate there anyway. My reasons are more about health, fitness, well-being and achieving a goal of old, old age in a lifestyle conducive to long life. 

Bibliography (Click the link) (npr, Your Health: “Why We Gain Weight As We Age.” Published February 22, 2010.)

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