Over 50
Kung fu

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Fit for combat?

In martial arts, if you attend the lesson, the assumption is that you are fit enough to train. If there's anything preventing you from training properly that night, a kung fu lesson is not suitable for you.
Traditional kung fu does not offer concessions or tailored lessons. Nor does it offer age, gender or weight-specific classes. Everyone trains together. The only differentiation is ability.

Can an older person fight

Yes of course they can. In principle. But who exactly are we talking about?

  1. Somebody who has trained martial arts their whole life?

  2. Someone who starts martial arts when older, trains daily at home?

  3. Someone who works out at the dojo 2-3 times a week?

  4. Someone who wants to attend class once a week and expects to be capable of defending themselves?

  5. How fit are they?

  6. How flexible?

  7. Do they have existing health problems?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer.

His ability to take adequate care of himself.
Not a hypochondriac or obsessed with his appearance, but not ignoring things either.
With the result that he hardly ever needed medical attention,
or drugs or any sort of salve or ointment.

(Marcus Aurelius)

Is 50 the new 40?

With many modern people looking after their health, 50 may have become the new 40. There are more women having babies at an older age and many people exercise well past their 50's.
This is good. But how healthy are you personally?

What state are you in?

Reaching the age of 50 is good. But what condition are you in? Are you fit or fat? Do you have back problems? Knee problems? Do you take any form of medication on a regular basis?
Aging badly is nothing to be proud of. You may want to get out of your big car, switch off your fancy phone, your laptop (and all the other devices) and get off your backside. Before it is too late.

Sarcopenia (muscle loss with aging)

Adults over the age of 50 lose approximately 1% of muscle mass each year as a natural consequence of aging. The only way to offset this is to engage in a strength building regime that can be sustained throughout your natural life. Qigong, tai chi for health and tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing) all qualify as ideal methods for accomplishing this goal. However, daily practice is a must.

Martial arts training

Hard-style martial arts have a time stamp attached. You can do them for a certain number of years and then you really start to pay. Adverse impact work and high kicks can damage your back and your knees.

External martial arts

The external arts are certainly impressive, effective and exciting - yet they can harm your health. At some point you may be forced to retire. There are of course many exceptions, so again, t
here's no one-size-fits-all answer.

Are martial arts safe?

The British Medical Association Guide To Sports Injuries states:

Combat sports such as boxing, judo, karate or kung fu make tough demands on the body; training is intense, and participation requires all-round fitness. Regardless of the fitness of the participants, however, the aggressive blows traded between opponents means that these sports always carry a serious risk of injury.

Martial artists usually retire aged 40

Risks for older martial artists:

A fracture or medical emergency caused by falls or other accidents
Injury from blows to the head or body
Risk of developing arthritis from overuse or improper techniques
Possible spinal cord injury from improper techniques
Risk of developing joint pain from improper techniques
Risk of developing a concussion or other head injury
Risk of developing stress fractures in the bones due to physical activity

Doing martial arts is rough on the body. Many martial artists suffer injuries. This is why over-50's eligibility is strict. It has to be. For the safety of the student.
Ultimately, we always act with the safety and wellbeing of the student in mind.

Conventional training

As you grow older, hard-style martial arts, sport and conventional exercise become increasingly difficult to perform. Many exercises promote muscle tension; resulting in a stiff neck and immobile joints.
Injuries are common. The slogan 'no pain, no gain' is often used in conjunction with exercise. Being healthy sounds like an ordeal.

The drawbacks of exercise

Not all forms of exercise are necessarily good for you. For example, running may improve cardiovascular health but is also very hard on the joints.
Lifting heavy weights can cause significant tension to accumulate and - if the muscles are large enough - adversely affect the skeleton. Most forms of exercise have pros and cons; especially sport.

A balanced approach?
For many people, their fitness regime does not take into account agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Often, injuries arise and bodies are pushed too hard.

Aah... stubborn. Thinking that the body is still functioning like a 40 year old.

(Henry Kajana, aged 68)

Strain is bad

Not everybody wants to sweat and strain their way to fitness.
Conventional exercise has its drawbacks.  
If you damage your body through goal-oriented exercise, you may have to live with it for the rest of your life.

Care for your body

Internal martial arts training is different. It is not strenuous or stressful. You undertake regular training and let the mild exercise build up layers of strength.
Instead of feeling tired, you feel energised and full of vitality.

Mid-life crisis?

There is more to life than working, buying goods, eating, sleeping, drinking alcohol and watching TV. You are more than this. The internal martial arts require the student to expand their horizons.
And to chill out... Contemplation, meditation, settled emotions and calmness of mind are all wonderful additions to your life.
Instead of becoming the violent brute people often associate with the martial arts, you become relaxed and comfortable with yourself, and with those around you.


Page created 19 August 1994
Last updated 21 June 2023