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)

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

COMFORT: Rhythms, Cadences and Patterns - Oh my!

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

One of the greatest dangers of aging humans as karate-ka, martial artists and self-defense aficionados is our falling into a comfort zone. This becomes more critical when we are talking about our brains. Our brains program sub-routines but when we find comfort in the patters, rhythms and cadences those provide we have this tendency to stick to the comfort, the comfort zone. In our brains, especially as we age, this becomes problematic.

Karate and Martial Arts are such disciplines that when trained, practiced and applied properly tend to flex the brain resulting in its plasticity to stay - plastic and therefore changeable. Take my past experience as an example, I got what is called, “Meniere’s” that is vertigo of a sort. My neurologist told me, after the initial recovery, that my brain needed to reprogram the sub-routine for balance, walking and so on. That would take time and I am still programming after about two years or more after the initial vertigo attack. 

What I discovered, since no one else in the karate and martial art worlds had any information on dealing with vertigo in training, practice and applications, is there is no information on that recovery and reprogramming and the neurologist didn’t have any advice on that reprogramming effort except time and effort. I found that when I had enough stability to practice again that doing karate and tai-chi chi-gong, etc. was still in the sub-routine created through training and practice and actually helped to regain stability and balance. Think about that, my drunk-like movement actually lessened when doing karate and the other martial arts practices. 

I actually believe that my reprogramming and creation of a new sub-routine for the stability and balance went faster. Some who suffer from vertigo or meniere’s don’t truly get the balance and stability back often resorting to actions and devices necessary to maintain stability and balance like holding on the things, looking down at the ground and feet and the use of a cane, etc. I actually started out that way but quickly left that course of action behind due to my past and recent practice and training. 

It made me think, that when we practice with the shu-ha-ri like model where we constantly change, visualize and practice that this exercises the brain and keeps the plasticity, plastic like flexible. In my studies of this I found that certain activities and brain work can actually train the brain so when certain medical maladies of the aging brain occur the brain can actually reroute neurons and reprogram and/or create new sub-routine programs that actually bypass the effects of such maladies. One report showed a recent passing when the brain, due to the persons contribution to science of his or her body, showed all the signs of a very debilitating brain disease yet the person showed none of the effects or side effects of having the disease, not a smidgeon. Reviewing the lifestyle and especially the lifestyle in the aging process it was found that certain activities and brain challenges the person did normally in life actually provided the ability of the brain to recruit around the disease, ain’t life grand?

Due to my studies, my research and my experiences I find, for me, that the disciplines of karate and martial arts as it applies to the correct way to be beneficial to the mind, body and spirit in more ways than merely the so called martial spirit and way. It actually can train the brain to overcome adversities of the aging processes and may be why, in past older Okinawans, they tended to live longer,healthier and happier winter years (knowing other factors such as diet, etc. also contributed). 

It is easy for humans to find such comfort zones and a certain adherence to such things has benefits yet if overbalanced toward only that comfort has its prices but a balance of comfort along with a bit of chaos tends to keep the body, mind (brain) and spirit flexible and able to handle all kinds of obstacles from conflict to violence to overcoming the adversities of aging. Pretty cool, huh? 

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