Tuesay Tip: Repost: Enjoy at 'Just a Thought'. In this post Michele implores us to enjoy our martial arts.
I replied to Michele that I enjoy the physicality of doing martial arts - I appreciate the fact that I can actually do it! I will confess something to you: I am 47; I took up martial arts at the relatively late age of 45. I feel lucky that I am healthy, fit and flexible enough to participate in such a physical and vigorous pursuit and I do not take it for granted. There is great pleasure in being able to move your body about freely, without pain or discomfort; to explore the limits of what you can do and stretch yourself beyond those limits.
You know what? I hate being called middle-aged. I would never refer to myself as middle-aged. Middle-age is a concept not a number; it’s a state of mind. Middle-age is for people who think it is time to take things a bit easy, to plateau, to coast into old age, to stop setting goals, to stop learning new things – to just sit back and let life pass you by. ‘Middle-age’ can strike you at any age and you should guard against it. I’ve met people in their twenty’s who are ‘middle-aged’ and I’ve met people in their senior years who have still yet to reach ‘middle-age’!
When my husband was younger he worked for a few months in Newfoundland in Canada. He was walking past a lake one day where people were sailing and windsurfing. When he looked a little closer he realised that all the people on the lake were senior citizens – some very senior! He was astounded – it was the first time he realised that older people could still participate in vigorous physical activity and he was impressed.
We have all recently heard the news about the 72 year old judoka from Edinburgh receiving his 10th dan. This is an amazing achievement and what is most amazing is that he still runs his club. He is still active, still involved and still enthusiastic. He has not yet reached ‘middle-age’! Stories like this inspire me; they make all things still seem possible, regardless of age. I once read a comment from a martial arts blogger in which he felt too old to become an instructor – he took up martial arts in his thirties and got his black belt round about 40. He was now 42. Too old! I would have thought this was the perfect age – old enough to be wise and mature, young enough to have the required physical fitness.
‘Youth is wasted on the young!’ is a well known saying. It’s true – at least for many young people. They just don’t realise what advantages their youth brings them – fitness, flexibility, energy. We have several teenagers in our karate club who just don’t realise what they have! They pay lip service to the warm up and stretching exercises; give about 50% to their karate training and complain if they feel tired! They are not all like this, some do show more dedication and work hard every lesson, but the lazy ones frustrate me! I sometimes feel like shaking them and saying ‘wake up, you won’t always be young you know – try harder while you can!’ Of course I don’t actually say anything but they do make me feel quite mad sometimes.
The most frustrating thing about the ‘lazy’ teenagers is that they can pull it off when it matters, i.e. for a grading or competition – this is another advantage of youth! If I did not work hard all the time I would not be able to ‘pull it off’ for my grading. In my last karate grading one of our young 2nd kyu’s graded for 1st kyu and really pulled it off – she was amazing, it was like watching a different person! If only she worked like that all the time, who knows what she could achieve.
Whatever age we are we should appreciate our physicality and enjoy the freedom it brings us. Who knows what is around the corner. When I worked as a nurse I saw many people cut down in their prime by chronic illness or accident – their physicality or sometimes their lives taken away from them. We currently know some family friends whose 21 year old son is battling cancer – he is not responding to chemotherapy and his future balances on a knife edge. He may not get the chance to fulfil his dreams, experience the joy of life or rejoice in his physicality until old age takes him.
So forget what age you are, resist the decline of ‘middle-age’ and ENJOY your martial arts simply BECAUSE YOU CAN. Continue to push your own boundaries, continue to learn new things and continue to make every minute of it count.
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