Under: Self-defense
1 Dec 2011

One of the benefits of getting older – you don’t need or want to impress anyone anymore! To what could I possibly be referring to? Well then I have been playing a game on myself for some time now. You see I turned 54 years old this year and I’ve been making a (albeit) slow comeback at the karate school.


Actually very slow as I have done some sparring and some jiu-jitsu training this year – maybe about six to eight times all told and you know what? I’ve injured myself four to six times (in addition to all of the regular injuries at home (that have been decreasing). :)


So by now you think this is my wa-wa post where I cry about getting older and how unfair it all is. NOPE! Done that already but in this post I will speak to how my training has been adjusting and where it is headed as I head into my “Golden Years.”


Ok here is the deal – I have been training to keep my hat in the ring but this last year while gearing up for some team tournment – I was not able to keep up as I kept getting injured.


Over the years I have not been sparring too much especially in the last ten years but I have been keeping up with the bag workouts. To be sure sparring is about the best exercise one can get over almost anything else but it also is hard on a middle aged body. As I would break my hand or wrist – that would take months to heal and I would have to change exercises.


I had it in my mind that I would jump in with both feet just like I did in my 20’s, 30’s and even early 40’s. But let me tell you while I enjoy the high of sparring (hit or get hit) it is dangerous as I still hold back like I did fighting students. The folks I was sparring with are as old as me but they did not lay off like I did. Meaning they did not get injured as much as me.


The other consideration is I have been training for self defense for a long time and I love to kick to the knees and hips (to throw someone off) as well as elbow. And guys my age – I have to hold back from the power of my kicks (except for Terry Crook – he’s still an animal and can take it). But when I sparred with Terry – I got another injury as you’d figure.


So what is my lucid moment?


I’m done trying to keep up with the Jone’s. I am going to keep on training on the bag as a slower pace – aiming for the knee and hips as well as practice all of my self defense techniques, kata, basics and all kinds of strikes on the bag.


You see I can measure my power and mitigate my injures much better than if I fight with a bag that hits back (an opponent).


But you might be wondering what happens if I get in a fight and I’ve not sparred recently? Well I guess I’ll be like everyone else… but slightly better. My wind will last for about six or seven minutes.


But better than most – I can take one opponent in about 10 seconds… so depending on how many opponents will determine if I will be successful or not.


I recall my instructor Dick Willett, telling once at the internationals – as we were watching Ed Parker jumping over isles of chairs – (paraphrasing), “Can you imagine what would happen if anyone messed with Ed? He had years of experience doing those self defense techniques – no one would stand a chance…”


That’s what I want as I head into the next several (hopefully) decades – to get old gracefully (with limited injuries) and still be a mean SOB (if it is called for) for at least three minutes! Doing it my way.


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6 Responses to “Doing It My Way? Training Exclusively for Self Defense!”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that I read about some poor old man, around 75 years young, that was threatened by a mugger who wanted his wallet! As it turned out that geriatric cripple was a former martial artist, and even though he should have taken your wise advice, John, did not surrender his wallet, but laid the mugger out!

    Once a black belt, always a black belt! I’m sure you are still quite formidable, John!
    Dr. J recently posted..Lab Notes: Researchers Reverse Earliest Sign of AD; Eating Fish May Reduce Alzheimer’s RiskMy Profile

  2. Rutchelle Sayson Says:

    Well its better to be prepared than to come into a situation that we don’t want the things that happen to us. At your age I think its best to make it as an exercise rather than injuring yourself up.
    Rutchelle Sayson recently posted..Winning LotteryMy Profile

  3. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Dr. J!

    I don’t think fighting will ever be an issue. I did a post a couple years back about an old Marine on vacation that had to take out a robber… Hopefully folks will respect their elders… or else. :)

    Hi Rutchelle,

    I have to get use to, “at your age”… it sill sounds like someone else. thanks for the sage advice.

  4. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    Refreshing post, John.
    Yeah, I can relate to what you’re experiencing and gracious enough to share with us readers.
    Over 50, I can move as cat-like as in my 20s, so I think.
    My mind says yes I can, but my body says “You want me to do what!”
    There is a great song and video by Toby Keith (even if you’re not a country fan) called “As Good As I Once Was.”
    that describes it pretty well ina very entertaining manner.
    Rock on and keep up the great writing, bro.

  5. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Hey Tiger,

    If only I/we were “as good as I once was.” :)

    I just don’t want to get to the paper tiger stage any time soon! :)

  6. Ymarsakar Says:

    This is why I train in Taiji Chuan and research/study internal martial arts where strength, size, and speed are rendered less important.

    Also sparring is a testing of skills, it’s not a good way to improve one’s skills. Two man drills are much better for that goal. Things such as setting up a specific range and standing there while throwing attacks and defenses gets a lot of repetition training over one thing. For a gauge of power and accuracy, humans can volunteer to become living punching bags like Kyokushin karate or Kajukenbo, thus providing a lot of feedback on what was bette ror worse in a strike. But all of these can be taken down a notch in terms of danger. The amount of time martial artists have wasted on injury recovery because their training methods do not follow the internal paradigm, is pretty large. And it’s especially impactful in these modern days where people are lucky to train 5-10 hours a week. Most people train 4 hours or less.