The Bittersweet pangs of aging.

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Botta Dritta, May 16, 2022.

  1. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Well it finally happened.

    Its been a couple of years I have been able to hold my own against former students, but the break after Covid it's really brought it home. I'm 43 now and divide my time between mostly teaching and some low level club assaults, I haven't properly competed in years, but the gap between myself and some of my former students is demonstrable,

    A recent former pupil that turned up tonight beat me 15-7, hes been training elsewhere and is finishing his A-levels this year. It was the reverse last time we fenced and he was second in the region in his age- groups. But tonight he was just faster and quite frankly..better than me. And that's a good thing don't get me wrong.

    I've been in denial for a while that I really should be fencing in the over 40 veteran category, but I've been wracking up injuries and ailments, but I'm torn between focusing more on coaching and the Storm and thunder of clashing blades on the strip. Coaching gives me the warm fuzzy feeling of seeing a pupil progress and yes eventually as tonight outstrip me, but I forgot how much I love competing but now have to admit I have to hang out with the older crew because the body isn't there any more.

    Any of other crusty Mappers gone through this? How do you process this bittersweet feeling.
  2. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    When I was 69, I wrestled with a guy in the park who was in his 20. I could only wrestle for 2 rounds. When his brother wanted to wrestle with me, I had to turn his brother down.

    When you get older, you may have to change the competition rule. Instead of compete for 15 rounds in MA sparring/wrestling, you may just compete 1 round. You may play more defense than offense.

    For example, if your opponent can

    - land any of his first 20 punches on your head,
    - land any of his first 20 kicks on your body,
    - take you down within 1 minute,
    - defense against your attack for 1 minute,
    - ...

    he wins that round, otherwise you win that round (you can change 20 punches/kicks to 10 punches/kicks, and 1 minute to 30 seconds).

    This way you will still be able to test your MA skill even when you are 80 years old. In other words, try to compete in skill and try not to compete in endurance.
    Last edited: May 17, 2022
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  3. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    For sword fight, you can modify the rule as whoever can land his sword on his opponent's body will be the winner. This way, the skill is more important than the endurance.
    Botta Dritta likes this.
  4. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    All my time doing martial arts I've had a mission statement.
    I didn't realise it in the early days but as I've gone on I've made it an explicit part of my training and motivation. The mission statement guides and informs my training and makes sure I'm on track.
    The mission statement changed or got refined as I went through martial arts. Sometimes it was self defence, or getting a blackbelt, or getting skills in new areas.
    As I age (I'm 49) the mission statement has basically become one word.


    Just move and stay moving as long as possible. I train with my son in Taekwondo and I try to be a role model for moving and using the body. I've started running over lockdown and consistency (not time or distance) has been the main guiding concern. I'm terrible runner but I'm a better runner than someone sat on the settee.
    There are so many people who have sedentary jobs (I'm one!) and lead sedentary lifestyles that the ability to move and function is FAR more important to me than beating young un's in sparring or kicking as high as I used to.
    At some poit just turning up for training will be a victory (some days it feels like that now!).
    Pokitren, Dunc, axelb and 6 others like this.
  5. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    How to still have fun in competition through your old age

    You may stop competion during your old age. But you don't have to if you can just modify the competition rule as:

    One person play offense. The other person play defense.

    For example, in 1 minute (or 30 seconds) timeframe, if the attacker can

    - land his punch/kick on the defender,
    - take the defender down.
    - ...

    the attacker wins that round. Otherwise, the defender wins that round.

    If you

    - feel good today, you may try to be an attacker.
    - don't feel good today, you may try to be a defender.

    It's not a real fight. But you can still test your offense/defense skill in a safe environment and have fun.
    axelb and Botta Dritta like this.
  6. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    If your over 40, then competing in the correct catagory would be a help to everyone else in that catagory, and give you experience to pass onto other who you help coach.

    Competing in a younger age catagory, just robs the other over 40s of the experience of competing against you, and gives a younger swordslad/ swords lady an easy round, thus upsetting the brackets.

    Just playing devils advocate!
    Botta Dritta likes this.
  7. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    If that was the case then last night I managed the first three hits...but after the 7th hit it was all down hill. And not just because of endurance...
  8. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Lovely sentiment.

    Just need to remember it!!!!
  9. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Yea I get it.... but I think its admitting that my prime days are behind me. I mean they were behind me 10 years ago but I think even the stupid part of me has finally realised it!
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  10. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    You mean the bit obsessed with lobsters, hiarachy and cow meat?

    Time to start a podcast or write a book instead! You could call it beyond the 12 rules of the piste?
    Botta Dritta likes this.
  11. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I can understand your sitution perfectly. I may still be able to spring for 100 meters. I can't run Marathon anymore.

    You will still have 32 more years to reach to my age. Enjoy your youth.
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  12. Botta Dritta

    Botta Dritta Valued Member

    Hahhaha, thats actually quite good, though I think it would have limited appeal. I think I must be going brain dead as I don't remember writing much about cow meat...
    Dead_pool likes this.
  13. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Unfortunately you picked a sport which is based a lot around speed and reaction and explosiveness... All the first things to go when you age sorry :)

    As others have said compete where possible in your own age category, plan in more rest and recovery to your training.

    The hardest part for me is knowing what I should be doing but my body saying nope that isn't happening :(
  14. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I'm 42 and try to deal with progress on a slower scale. Watching people below 35 join and knock out 4-5 classes a week even some on the same day.
    I've come to accept that 2-3 a week is my baseline.
    I think I am fortunate that we have a good range of ages at our club. Every lesson I've got at least one person to train with about my age. Plenty of 20 something also if I want to pick up the pace.

    I try and keep things in check by listening to my body and carry on with moderate strength, stretching and cardio.

    Recently I've come to terms with the chance of the unpredictable. My knee went pop (torn MCL), not an intense workout, not weeks of increased load, at most I can put it down to going back to it after a week off from illness at normal pace.
    I've taken it easy to get back to it. I think at this age we more so have to become a master of recovery and in tune with what we are capable of.

    Recent discussion with others my age is the skill of the power nap. Sometimes a 30min nap in the day makes a huge difference to my performance in training :D
    Because of this I now try and schedule it as part of a routine for some days.
    Botta Dritta likes this.
  15. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    I ran my 1st Marathron when I was 41. When I was 42, I started to train triathlon. From 40 - 60 is the best years in our lifes.

    40 is a good breaking point. Before that year, we may live for others. After that year, we start to live for ourselves. During my 40 birthday, I threw away all my ties.

    Today, I still try to run 3 miles 3 times weekly.
    Last edited: May 18, 2022
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  16. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I’m about to turn 50 (mid life crisis here we come!) and am training 5-6 times a week and rolling with folk half my age
    My primary concern is to avoid injury so I can keep progressing
    I’ve very much developed a method that slows things down and nullifies the young folk’s advantages of speed and endurance
    I’m increasingly managing to override the stupid part of my brain (ego) to be OK with giving up positions whenever the probability of injury goes beyond a certain point
    I’m also OK with turning down training partners who I don’t trust &/or (if my stupid ego gets the better of me) going super defensive with them and having the objective of frustrating them by simply surviving and not giving any points/taps
    After my hip replacement I decided that competing was out for me even in my age category
    Last edited: May 20, 2022
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  17. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I turn 51 in a few days and I'm thinking about trying out fencing again myself, as it happens. My oldest son is into fencing now (epee) and it's been fun watching him learn. Those of you who have been here long enough (most of you, I think) may remember the medical concerns that prompted me to stop for a while. Well, fencing is about perfect now, as martial arts go.

    It's expensive, so I don't know whether I'll actually get to train alongside my son yet. But I'm going to check out the fencing club at the university where I study when I get a chance. They've got an historical swordsmanship club too, but that might be more heavy armour and banging on each other than really interests me at this stage.

    If only there were a fencing club at the college where I actually work...
  18. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    This is how I’m approaching things now , I try to extend it to my wider life also , I’ll always take the stairs where practical and still try to use hand tools over power tools at work.
  19. Pokitren

    Pokitren New Member

    I'm not 49, but I already understand the importance of movement. And my body feels it. I have a sedentary job, and it's terrible because I have to sit in one position for long periods of time. I found a small solution: I started working standing up and taking small breaks to change my body position every hour. That helps.

    Hi all, let me join your forum.
  20. L'Aquila

    L'Aquila New Member

    I would take that as a sign of having been a good teacher before, but an even better one now. Surely, that was the aim wasn't it? And if you haven't competed in years, and they've been competing all this time, I would hope they're better than you are now!

    Oh, yes. The bittersweet feeling. Learn to love it.

    I guess it's harder in a competition-focussed area like fencing, but I'd be focussing on the self-improvement aspects rather than the competitive ones. If you're a better teacher evidenced by having better students, that's a great start. I'm Taekwon-Do, which I suppose allows for some more introspective focus versus tangible outcomes in the form of 'winning'. FWIW, there is no way I would be sparring against men half my age, or women for that matter.

    Look for ways you can find the same enjoyment from your art that you once did, but without needing to prove yourself physically. I'm not sure how you would do that in fencing, but for me it's simple: am I training with the same intent that I had yesterday, producing similar if not better results, and am I a better person for it? Make it an internal rather than external comparison.

    Go not gentle into that good night!

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