There’s nothing more undignified than an old person trying to behave like a younger one. If you train well over the years, it’s only natural that you lose the aggression and ignorance of youth and the bullishness gives way to wisdom, emotional intelligence, cunning and skill. A problem only arises if you don’t continue learning and hanker after that which is past, then it can become embarrassing if the OAP is trying to convince everyone that he still ‘has it’ – a bit like your Grandad trying to dance on a nightclub floor to the latest music.
When someone has been training for ’30 years’ the question arises – have they continued learning and progressing over that period, or have they just repeated their first 3 years beginner training 10 times? If so, they may only know how to train and move like they did as a youngster and now can only do the Martial Arts equivalent of the ‘Hitch Hiker’, the ‘Locomotion’ or the ‘Mash Potato’ that was prevalent on the Disco dance floor 40 years ago…
Phrases like ‘the old boys still got it’, ‘I can still do head kicks’ or ‘I still fight and beat all my youngsters’ puts a picture in my head that I really don’t want to be there of everyone letting the ‘old boy’ knock them around and fall over them because they don’t want to embarrass him.
The Martial Arts is a life long learning process that allows you to age with grace, fluidity, skill and wisdom, retaining your protection skills appropriate to your age, gender and personal needs. More meditation, Neigong, Qigong and softer skills ease that aching body into a more skilful way of doing everything. It means that you’ve made friends with it and can listen and communicate to each other as opposed to trying to fight it and force it to do what is unnatural. It can take a lot in youth but becomes far more unforgiving with age.
It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it that counts, you don’t have to stop doing any of the arts you love, just simply replace youth with more skill, we all age differently and sometimes injury and illness can affect the way that you train whatever your age. The point is that you never need to give up, simply change and adapt to match your circumstances. The best training years of your life are your autumn years, whilst others are punishing themselves in a gym trying to do the same exercises as they did 30 years ago watching dolefully as the youngsters do their stuff, you can be out in the garden or in the Dojo/Kwoon easing your body into health, using your breath, mental awareness, concentration, posture and enjoy fun skilful movement, engaging others in more natural Martial Arts play, matching the youngsters athleticism with skill and wisdom..
Take care of yourself, look after the only body you have, listen to it, treat it well and make it healthy. Age with dignity and be who you are. No-one wants to see their Granny in a mini skirt…….