The joys and challenges (including ACL injury) of martial arts in middle age.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
10 Years on the Martial Arts Path
I started my current martial arts journey 10 years ago this month.
My primary quest was better health; I was overweight and gaining pounds, my cholesterol was out of whack, I was easily winded and I no longer enjoyed the joy of movement I had felt so intensely as a young man in pursuits like basketball. A few weeks prior, I had a scare when a bit of skin cancer was cut off my ankle. It made me realize that bad things can happen to me, and I needed to get healthy.
Except for a few months out of commission due to my ACL tear and surgery, I've pretty much continuously been on the martial path since then. I'm meeting my health goals; I've lost 25 pounds from when I started, my good and bad cholesterol are in good shape, I've got stamina to keep up with the young guys in class. All this makes me feel good about myself.
But my martial arts school has become more than a way to be in shape. It's become a central part of my life; when things work out, I go to class three days a week for five hours of training, and I cross train by running on two other days. Some of my best friends I met at my school.
To my complete surprise, I discovered that I enjoy the sport and contact element (within limits) of training. It's life-affirming to face up to my fears, and to push the boundary of how hard I can exert myself.
It's an antidepressant and a stress reliever. There's no time for running through anxieties in my mind when I'm pushing my body as hard as it can go, or sparring or grappling with challenging opponents. When I'm done, I often feel not just tired, but calmer, more optimistic.
And it also appeals to my desire to keep improving and learning. It's a never-ending challenge.