Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aging Martial Artist: A Perspective

There's an interesting essay by Bob Orlando (whom I've never met), who runs a martial arts school in Denver, on a natural progression in types of martial arts to pursue with age. His template is the progression in Taoist Chinese martial arts from xing-yi, a very linear, meet-force-with-force art that sounds like karate, to ba-gua, which introduces more circular-type motions (sounds like aikido, though I don't know for sure) and finally to taijiquan (tai chi chan), see photo.

Orlando says there's no loss of effective self-defense in that progression, and that there are ways to make that progression outside the Taoist Chinese martial arts.

It makes a lot of sense to me. It makes me wonder about taking up, say aikido at some point (though I do worry about the falls aikido requires).

However, the vigor of the hard martial art I'm pursuing is great for my physical condition. And I'm eager to return to sparring. And I do want to get that black belt. So my thought is to continue down this path as long as I'm able, knowing though that if my body won't let me any farther, due to age or injuries, there are alternatives to dropping training entirely.

I'm off the training wagon for the past four days due to illness, a martial-arts-school holiday, and demands on my time today from family and others. Monday's a new day.


GC from NZ said...

Hey Bob. I agree with you about the types of arts to take on in later life. I have also spent some time doing Aikido. I love it! The only thing is that Aikido puts a lot of strain on the body due to the impact of the falling during training. Aikido is so different to all the other I have done, from training method through to application. In Aikido, the emphasis is not on Kata (like karate) but on application, so you have to be prepared to be thrown around and hit the ground hard. I love the way they teach; sensei does a particular move with his first from a number of angles, then the class scrambles for an opponent and practices that move for about 10-15mins (long classes BTW). He then moves onto the next move and so on. The lovely thing about Aikido is the fluidity of the action. "Use your opponents force against them". It all sounds gentle and viewing it can be deceiving coz you definately get a good all-round work out from it......not to mention heaps of bruising from the application!

Great blog fella, I will visit often. OSU!


BobSpar said...

Thanks, gc, I appreciate the encouraging words.

Yeah, I wonder how I would fare in Aikido with the falling bit. But the concept is great. As a friend said, it's a way of doing something about Uncle Warren when he had too much to drink at a wedding without hurting him.

My martial art doesn't focus on kata--it started out as Shotokan karate, but has evolved into a combination of karate, kickboxing, and grappling, which it now calls mixed martial arts. One of the things dropped along the way is kata.