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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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Our Brain on Aging Karate-ka and Martial Artists

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

Many of us who still actively teach karate and martial arts tend to lean toward a more demonstration type of teaching, i.e., we still feel it necessary to get on the dojo floor and mix it up with practitioners, even those many, many years younger than us. As an aging karate-ka and martial artist it might benefit our longevity to adjust our training, practice, teaching and applications toward the protection of our brains. 

Our brains are the “Matrix” of our world, our universe, and lead our bodies and spirits while encoding, programming and creating our worlds so if they are damaged we lose a lot including possibly our lives. Here is a quote from a Neurosurgeon that explains it a bit: (

“Subacute or chronic subdural hematomas, on the other hand, occur in older people, also as a result of blunt head trauma, and are very common, even after relatively minor injuries. This occurs because as we age the brain sags, the subdural space enlarges, predisposing older folks to the tearing of the bridging veins at the top of the head inside the skull. Chronic subdural hematomas can occur after relatively minor injuries or even after a vigorous struggle or simply the shaking or bumping of the head during a scuffle with an assailant.” - Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. 

As we age the above exposes us to great harm of our brains. As can be readily observed this means older karate-ka and martial artists may want to re-evaluate their teaching and practices accordingly, i.e., stay away from those activities in pair practice where one will find themselves “struggling” or “shaking” or “bumping” of their head. We spar so we are actually “scuffling” with our opponent. 

Take this a bit further in self-defense, we should therefore take the extra training and precautions to remove or at least limit our exposure to being attacked either socially, as a bar incident, or asocially, as in a predatory attack for either resources and/or processes. 

The great thing about modern times is most of us live lives where we have a lot of control over our exposure to conflict and violence that would result in the “shaking, bumping and/or struggles” that would cause our brains to bounce around in our heads. Regardless, even if we find ourselves in situations of conflict that could lead to violence we, hopefully, learned how to avoid, escape and evade an attacker. 

“Sometimes difficult to diagnose, subacute and chronic subdural hematomas may present in older victims days or weeks after an assault. Yet these hematomas can also cause severe brain damage, incapacitation, or death. In other words, a serious or mortal injury can occur when a weaker person is attacked by an assailant who is intent on injuring or incapacitating his target, men or women, to rob them or sexually assault them.” - Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. 

Yeah, I agree, aging when it comes to this type of stuff really does suck. Regardless, I look at it this way, if we want to continue teaching and practicing even into the winter years of our lives we have to consider making such adjustments for it you cause damage to your brain, even if you live, it will have grievous repercussions on your abilities to learn, teach, practice and train. It may be the type of fun you really enjoy but if you don’t adjust are you willing to pay the price of losing that ability and capability? Reading the entire article that inspired this opinion really tells us a lot about the dangers of head trauma. 

Do you want to gamble you can go the distance? Remember also, our mind-set and mind-STATE are critical to practice but even more so to self-defense. If you damage the brain you lose a lot of your capabilities and abilities to defend and protect, is it worth it to expose ourselves, myself, to those dangers?

Bibliography (Click the link)

Note: I learned over the years that, “Small Circle Jujitsu” was a solid discipline suited well to self-defense, at least as an additional discipline so I found a dojo in my local area well-suited and respected. My intent was to start out there to gain that knowledge and experience but then as an aging karate-ka and martial artists I did a self-assessment both physical and mental. Mentally, I was more than capable but as I assessed myself physically I found that some issues were present that would mean I would expose myself to grave physical harm as to health and fitness, i.e., I have both shoulders with minor tears to the rotator cuffs. The tears are minor and didn’t require surgery to get back normal movement and capabilities but jujitsu as with any other discipline that uses the joints for control and manipulation would mean exposing the minor tears to possible greater tears requiring surgery. I assessed that if I exposed myself to the possibility that the surgery would be a huge set-back and could, like the brain above, lead to very long recuperation and possibly even a state of health resulting in discontinuance in training. I realized that I can still practice and train my karate with adjustments but the overall goal and related obstacles with possible repercussions meant changing my plans. The long terms considerations with the aging process and the possible limitations a new injury might incur when properly weighed said, “Not a good idea.” I also took into consideration what I would need to do to learn and study the system, the discipline, and found that to sacrifice those needs for training are also not acceptable overall. It should be noted one of the reasons I no longer train actively with others in the dojo and practice and train solo are due to the aging considerations. It is just me, these types of decisions are individual in nature that MUST be made by each person so this article as with the other aging articles are about information to make appropriate decisions. 

1 comment:

  1. I loved aikido and more recently, jujutsu, but I'm not getting any younger. Between traveling for work and getting in my miles as a distance runner, I found that I wasn't getting to practice regularly.

    It was becoming very clear to me that it wasn't going to be a question of "if" I was going to be injured, but "when."

    For now, I quietly practice my taijiquan form, the five elements forms and put in my miles.

    For the study of Budo, this is sufficient.