Anyone who has spent any time observing the conventional world of martial arts, especially those involved in tournaments and competitive events, should have noticed a very unique phenomena. . .
. . the seniors - the “old guys'" - division starts at about age 30!
Now, I don't know about you, but at forty-four, I don't feel much like a senior. But, I have to ask myself, how can it be in Today's world that modern martial artists are considered to be too old to compete against a younger opponent when in ancient Japan, China, and Korea. . .
. . . that was the norm?!
Even from a self-defense perspective, who is more likely to be the victim of a criminal attacker; someone middle-aged, in their thirties or fourties, who's slower and less fit, with money and credit cards in their wallet. . .
. . or a young buck who's super-fit and probably broke before his or her next payday?
Just doesn't make sense. Unless, it has less to do with the age factor than the effect that the training has on the student's body as they get older.
The fact is that, most of the conventional martial arts practices and training methods are detrimental to the long-term health and well-being of the person practicing them. And, in an attempt to look cool, feel powerful, and be confident. . .
. . . many martial artists are simply wearing themselves out at an early age.
Contrast this with the ancient master warriors who had to be effective every day of their lives. There was no retirement. Especially during times like Japan's Sengoku Jidai “warrior-states" period, where personal and clan battles were a constant reality, a warrior had to insure that his body was not only healthy, but actually improving in his ability to survive to fight another day.
The common image of the warrior-master of ancient times is one of an old man with capabilities that far surpassed those much younger. His skills almost bordered on “magical. " And, even though modern martial arts students epitomize this image, few question why the modern training methods, stances, and methods for striking and kicking leave them wearing joint braces, recovering from surgery, or taking pain killers and anti-inflammatories.
Perhaps it would help if we explored the concept of being “effective" from the perspective of the warrior mindset.
"Effective" in the warrior's mind means much more than having the ability to put your enemy down. It means doing what you must do in a way that produces the greatest effect with the least amount of wear-and-tear on you.
Think about it. If you put your attacker down and find yourself in pain yourself (on the inside or out), then you are not applying natural principles and correct body mechanics and movement dynamics.
Can you imagine having to hold a sword over your head, or in any position for that matter, for an hour or more? Could you imagine, let alone do it yourself, sparring with your assailant for three hours instead of the conventional two minutes of the modern tournament bout?
The warrior studies every aspect of movement and placement of the human body to find the most natural way to do things. To him or her, it's not about style or conforming to a preset method as much as it is about. . .
. . finding the method that will allow for power, strength, and speed without tearing the body down in the process.
Everything from sitting properly, to walking, punching, sword drawing, kicking. . .
. .in fact, every aspect of movement that he or she will routinely engage in. . .
. . is explored to find THE method that will build the body rather than leave it weak and useless with age.
This philosophy is embodied by the traditional Ninja motto: "Ninpo-Ikkan!" This single, simple phrase means:
"The way of the Ninja is the Way of Naturalness. "
So, instead of engaging in months or even years of practice that requires that the body be placed into positions that arch the back or thrust the hips forward - that lock the knees back with the toes jutting straight up, or a myriad of other equally debilitating habits. . .
. . the warrior finds the best position to create the results needed with no unnecessary wear and tear. In short. . . The warrior gets better with age instead of the norm for our society where middle age has become the new old age - with the only exception that Today's “old folks" have a longer wait for death.
Take a look at the way you practice. If you experience pulling, tearing, or discomfort during your training, it may be a sign of things to come. And while you may not damage yourself today, months or years of repeating the same thing again and again, will take it's toll.
And then, one day, you will be doing something and experience real pain and real damage. You will probably assume that you must have done something wrong “that" time, when in reality it has been a long time coming.
Don't be your own worst enemy. Study what it means to be “effective" from the warrior's perspective. Then, instead of being a thirty or forty-something “has-been, " you'll be running circles around people half your age!
Jeffrey M. Miller is the founder and master instructor of Warrior Concepts International. A senior teacher in the Japanese warrior art of Ninjutsu, he specializes in teaching the ancient ways of self-protection and personal development lessons in a way that is easily understood and put to use by modern Western students and corporate clients. Through their martial arts training, his students and clients learn proven, time-tested lessons designed to help them create the life they've always dreamed of living, and the skills necessary for protecting that life from anything that might threaten it. To learn more about his yearly Spring & Fall Ninja Camps and other subjects related to the martial arts, self-defense, personal development & self-improvement, visit his website at http://www.warrior-concepts-online.com To subscribe to his online newsletter, go to http://www.warrior-concepts-online.com/newsletter-subscribe-self-defense.html