When I began taking martial arts and in particular, Karate, I was in my late 50’s. Yes, it is unusual to start at an older age, but the benefits are tremendous. Sure, you are going to feel some aches and pains. That is normal with any fitness program, no matter what age you are at the time. So suck it up buttercup and give me ten!
What Kind of Shape Are You In?
One day, when we look in the mirror, we come to the realization that we need to get into shape. My image in the mirror told me that I was already in shape, pear shape. Being the realist, I knew that it would be impossible for me to become like someone featured on the cover of Fitness Magazine. I had to set realistic goals. Fat carrot shape, pointy side down seemed reachable, but most likely zucchini shape was the best hope.
What is the Main Reason We Should Get Fit?
It is to keep up with our kids, grand-kids, and great-grand-kids. Okay, it is also so that the next 30 years are not spent with a walker or wheelchair – if we can. And if we are in a wheelchair, it is having the ability to scoot wherever we want. We want to be fit so that our quality of life and our retirement years are enjoyable.
Martial Arts (Karate) have Their Benefits for an All Around Program
Martial Arts is a great source for the complete body fitness. It embodies the core of fitness: flexibility, strength, and endurance. When you add the positive mental state you get, an ability to accomplish something in your old age, the feeling of youthfulness as you work with kids, the ability to still compete, and the fun, you have a complete program. Not to mention that after a few years, you may be able to protect yourself. The first year or more, you learn enough to “think” you are able to hold your own against a mugger. In my defense, I did learn enough in the first year to block a pickpocket’s hand out of my bag. But that is another story.
Karate was my choice of the arts. With Karate, I was able to stay on the ground and not worry that I couldn’t kick someone in the ear. Karate has a lot of defense and offensive movements. The katas or routines have a lot of variations of practical applications in self defense. The results were that in combination of Karate, walking, and occasional basketball, I went from 248 lbs to 224 lbs in less than 5 months.
What to Expect From the Physical Side
When you go to your first Karate class, get ready for your muscles to cry as you stretch them into positions that they haven’t been in years. Over time, you will be able to stretch a little further. Just get use to being told to get lower. Sensei John was my inelastic muscles worst enemy. But over time, you will find more elasticity. Don’t confuse more elasticity with 20-year-old black belt flexibility. Sorry but that ship has already sailed.
After awhile, you will come to places where you begin to execute moves with pure gracefulness that ends with power. Now after doing Karate for some time and being in my 60’s, I am faster with my hands and a lot more graceful in many more areas than before I started. I now dance better and am in demand on the dance floor. By applying a few moves from my Karate with my dancing, I look smooth, at least in my own mind. Isn’t that what counts!
Surprise! Muscles start to get definition. As with any workout, the more you do, the better your muscles cut. This kind of workout improves your definition, your strength, your endurance, and your flexibility. Karate is the perfect workout.
The Endorphins Provide a Mental Boast
When you workout, endorphins are released that increase your brain power. Your hand and eye coordination improves, as you tell your body to do specific moves. Learning and memorization of the moves exercises your mind. The focus on what you are doing helps you to put your other concerns aside. This encourages you to think on good things. I have found that the more I concentrated on Karate, the less likely I would get depressed. Physical activity and mental exercises help one heal.
When was the Last Time You Had the Feeling of Accomplishment?
Martial Arts, Karate, can give you the feeling of accomplishment. As you move through the belts and learn to do the katas correctly, you experience something that many have lost. While your friends are talking about how they will slip out over the next years, you are experiencing growth in your abilities. You are still improving your abilities. You are not quitting life you are still challenging it and experiencing it.
Your conversations are not always about what was, but about what will be. People will respect you for being on the mats in competition. When you are in the 18-year-old to dinosaur group the competition is tough. It doesn’t matter if you medal or not. You have won because you are doing life and not just watching it from the hard chairs on the sidelines.
The feeling of youth will fill you once again. An older adult in the class provides mature leadership to the younger students. There were times when the class was made up of a 6-year-old and I. As you advance through the belts, you will eventually help instruct the newer students. That teaching ability doesn’t always come naturally, but it does through experience. If you are in your 50s or 60s, you should have a level of maturity that can greatly influence the younger students.
Kids love adults that experience life with them. Be one of them. Be the adult that experiences life with the kids. What a great thing to do. Especially, your grand-kids. What could be more awesome than having a grandparent who is also your Karate instructor. Think of the fun you could have with the kids learning Karate and going to competition together.
Karate or any other form of Martial Arts is a perfect way to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that can be passed on from generation to generation.