Fit and 40!

You see this plastered over every glossy magazine and the internet (not those sites!) Everyone is obsessed with being fit and staying in shape or looking good, but what if you have been training in the Martial Arts for the past 20-30 years taking the knocks and bruises, bumps and breaks that usually go with hard Martial arts training?

When you are younger you pride yourself on the state of your legs from shin kicks, dropping your pants at every opportunity to show people your jet black inner thigh war wound and swelling with pride (no pun intended) at the shiner you received from sparring. But this and the many more badges of honour you accumulate over the years take their toll on your body.

I am in my 40’s now but in my head I am between 4 and 24. Depending on the situation, I can be childish or just plain stupid when it comes to looking after my body!

A few years ago I badly injured my back and have had problems with it ever since. As I have stated sometimes my head writes cheques my body can’t pay and I keep pushing myself, ignoring the warning signs that my body is giving off and carrying on regardless until my body stops working.

I am currently sporting a bad back but it is on the mend though I am having a hard time cutting back on my work load. Randy Couture (UFC legend, aged 47 when he hung up is gloves) stated that for every hard session you do, you have to do a softer more holistic session – from hostile to holistic you might say! Just as older fighters sometimes do not want to hang up their gloves older Martial Artists feel the same.

Meaning me!

I was first called old when I was training with the Machados in LA – I was 34! I was grappling with a young lad who was a Native American and would have made a great Brave on the war path because he was of a fiery nature. We were grappling for a long time with no submissions and when we finished he said, “You are pretty good for an old guy.” I was so gob smacked that it tapped me out better than a rear naked choke!

When did I get old? One minute I was training like a madman and fighting and doing everything 110%, then, as the years passed suddenly I was old!

As age becomes a factor, things that healed in “no time” suddenly take longer to heal, you begin to stiffen up and you make involuntary noises when you do things (like bending down to pick something up). The problem I have is not joining in with the classes, sparring or rolling with my students (I teach and train 45+ hours per week).

I feel like I am a spare p***k at a wedding when I do not do the MMA circuit or grapple all the time. I think ego plays a large part of it; having to admit to yourself that you have an addictive problem with training is just the same as an alcoholic admitting to his drink problem or a smoker admitting that they can’t give up smoking but want to.

In classes how do you perform technique well if you are sore? You still try to perform to the best of your ability but this is a bitter pill to swallow. I am slowly coming around to the fact that I am not superhuman (apart from the Saturday night costume! Lol) I would class myself as a work in progress.

Here are the steps I am reluctantly trying to stick to:

1      Don’t do things because you think you have to (like core conditioning with every private class)
2      Just because someone wants to spar you don’t have to (it is not a western showdown at noon)
3      Don’t be hard on yourself as if you are letting people down (they are in for 1 hours training – you have been there for 9 hours already)
4      Drink loads of water (it is not “hard to not drink” it is stupid, you are not a camel)
5      Rest when you are sore and don’t train through the pain. (I never noticed my foot fall off -I am soooo hard!)
I have left these blank so I can fill them in as I learn more, as they say: knowledge is power!

Keep training but keep it in check, until next time, keep working on your arm bar and 6 pack!

John Atkin                                                                                                                                                                    
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