One of the challenges we all have as we age is how to workout and keep a balance of cardio-pulmonary stress and reduce the likelihood of injuries. Well one way the practitioner of karate can connect to his/her inner dojo is to practice your art! I mean the “fluff” you learned coming up in the ranks such as kata, techniques and basics do not have to be just for belt testing! You can slowly transition from sparring and bag work to increase the ratio of kata and self-defense techniques!
In this posting I’ll explore what I think the transition is necessary and why I have not kept up with the “fluff” after achieving rank – well overdue to jump back in and it is the smart move. But first take a look at a kenpo kata I found on the web.
This guys was pretty good although I don’t know how he came out. If you will noticed there was a lot of moves to the kata and he did not just go through the motions. Each move was thrown in a way that at least theoretically it could have worked. Imagine running though 10 or more of these katas in your daily workouts.
Back when I was achieving my initial rankings I was also teaching. Really teaching was a blessing in disguise because the repetition of teaching the techniques and katas over and over again helped the instructors become proficient at them. So teaching is one way to keep your edge and stay sharp.
The other time tested and proven method takes practice. I think most people have issues with this because after you achieve a goal – you don’t have to ever attain that again. This is especially true if you body already knows enough to move for self defense and your focus is more actual fighting skills and not so much self defense. Self defense techniques are really a Hail Mary move if you have totally messed up and let your attacker inside of your critical distance. Self defense techniques can work but I’d rather step out of the way of an attack and knock my opponent out with a kick or a punch.
So as we get older it makes sense to stop fighting so much (or at all) and focus on kata, techniques and basics more. You see our bodies cannot take getting the bell run so much as we could when we were younger. We do not heal so fast and injure easier. So in short – if you want to be like that 50 year old person trying to stay in shape by running instead of walking or riding a bike. It will kind of work but you may need a knee replacement. I hear a company, “Zimmer” makes spare parts (no affiliation), but they are not like the real deal.
So way push your body to the limit when most fights ends in 30 seconds or less (assuming one of the combatants knows how to fight). Certainly you have a full two minutes before even a 70 year old peters out. So no reason to keep up the high intensity, hard on the body workouts anymore. Make the smart move and transition to the more esoteric, artsy parts of your martial art! Stay in shape and keep yourself ready for a self-defense encounter.
Grasshopper – do not be like the hare and burn yourself out early but rather emulate the tortoise and stay in the race to the end!