As a lifelong martial artist, I’ve come to understand that the path we traverse in the world of martial arts is not linear. It’s a journey marked by changes, adjustments, and a continuous evolution of our techniques and mindset. As I approach my 54th year, I reflect on the profound changes and adjustments I’ve made to ensure my martial arts journey remains vibrant and sustainable.
One of the most significant shifts I’ve embraced is recognizing that our bodies change as we age. The resilience of youth may give way to the wisdom of experience, but it also brings with it a new set of challenges. Aches, pains, and injuries become more frequent companions on our journey. It’s at this stage that the wisdom of adaptability comes into play.
Listening to my body has become an essential part of my training routine. In the past, I may have pushed through discomfort with a “suck it up and push through” mentality. However, now I understand the importance of acknowledging these signals. Injury Pain is our body telling us that something needs attention. Ignoring it can lead to more significant issues down the road.
Certainly, it’s crucial to distinguish between the pain stemming from injury or physical damage and the daily soreness accompanying rigorous training. In martial arts, we often push our bodies to the limit, challenging our physical boundaries to grow stronger and more skilled. The discomfort and soreness that follow such training sessions are a testament to our dedication and perseverance. However, listening to our bodies and recognizing when pain goes beyond training soreness is vital. Any persistent or acute pain that feels different from the usual training discomfort should be taken seriously. Ignoring such signals can lead to more severe injuries and setbacks. Thus, while we embrace training soreness as a badge of honor, we must also exercise caution and prioritize our long-term well-being by addressing any unusual or chronic pain promptly and responsibly.
Mobility and flexibility have become more important in my training regimen. Incorporating stretching and mobility exercises helps maintain joint health and range of motion. It’s surprising how much a few minutes of focused mobility work can improve how you feel during and after training. I make joint expansion and flexibility work a part of my daily routine. In the universe, there are two fundamental energies, expansion and contraction, which also apply to the human body. Our daily lives often keep us contracted due to various factors like gravity, diet, emotions, and more. However, spending time in an expanded state is essential. Initially, it may seem foreign, but it becomes second nature with practice. Chiropractors use expensive machines for joint decompression, but you can achieve it without devices. Learning and applying this skill takes time and persistence, but it can benefit you throughout life once mastered. I’ve practiced it since my twenties, and in my fifties, I remain highly active, attributing it to my knowledge of joint expansion. This practice and good posture enhance alignment, balance, and circulation, resulting in increased energy and improved overall health as we age.
I’ve also adjusted my approach to intensity and volume. It’s no longer about going all-out in every session. Some days, I prioritize technique over intensity. I’ve learned to embrace the idea that it’s not about how hard you train every day but how smart you train consistently over time. Consistency is the key to long-term progress.
Furthermore, I’ve recognized the significance of active recovery. It’s okay to take lighter training days or include active recovery sessions focusing on healing and rejuvenation. Our bodies need time to repair and grow stronger, especially as we age.
Diet plays an equally vital role in this journey. I’ve maintained a clean diet, eliminating inflammatory foods that can exacerbate aches and pains. Proper nutrition supports recovery, energy levels, and overall well-being.
But beyond the physical adjustments, a profound mindset shift comes with age. Guro Dan Inosanto imparted a valuable lesson to me in my 30s, emphasizing the necessity of making training adjustments every decade as we age. His wisdom extended beyond the immediate and prompted me to formulate a lifelong plan for adapting to these inevitable changes. I began contemplating how my mindset, training routines, and diet would evolve with time. This forward-thinking approach led me to explore various areas, with diet being prominent. As our bodies age, dietary requirements transform, and Guro’s insight encouraged me to address these shifts proactively. It became evident that as we advance in years, nutritional adjustments are crucial in maintaining our well-being and sustaining optimal physical performance. Guro’s guidance taught me the importance of staying ahead of these changes, enabling me to plan and adapt effectively throughout my martial arts journey.
My journey in martial arts has seen significant changes as I entered my late 40s and 50s. A profound shift in perspective has marked these transitions. It became clear that martial arts transcend the physical aspects of combat and competition. Instead, it’s a holistic journey encompassing personal growth, mental resilience, and adaptability.
The realization struck that martial arts are not a contest with others or a means of proving oneself. The true essence lies in the joy of learning, the bonds forged with fellow practitioners, and the satisfaction derived from individual progress. As I aged, my focus shifted from overcoming physical limitations to celebrating the mental fortitude and flexibility required for this path.
The fight has become multifaceted in this stage of my martial arts journey. It’s no longer just about defeating an opponent but also about the ongoing battle with myself. The temptations to take extra time off, to succumb to comfort and complacency, become more pronounced as we age. However, the commitment to continue, to persevere, remains paramount. The level of intensity may not match that of earlier years, but the dedication must persist.
The “good old days” mindset may occasionally creep in, suggesting it’s time to step back. Yet, I’ve come to understand that now, more than ever, is the time to press forward. As I’ve learned, the body is a remarkable machine, and its workings become more intricate with age. It requires investment, the willingness to understand its changing needs, and the determination to work alongside it.
Ultimately, martial arts are a metaphor for life itself. It’s about adaptability, evolution, and thriving in the face of challenges. The lessons learned on the mat extend far beyond the training ground, shaping how we navigate the complexities of existence. I’ve found a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment in embracing these changes on this lifelong martial arts journey.
My overarching aspiration within martial arts is to fast-track the cultivation of the warrior’s mindset and promote a wider adoption of the fighter’s mindset globally. My mission revolves around crafting and delivering advanced training and knowledge, empowering individuals to confront life’s hurdles and potential encounters with violence more effectively. Furthermore, I’m dedicated to instilling a sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility in people across all facets of their lives, encouraging them to ascend to greater heights without undue dependence on external sources.
So, if you’re on a similar journey, whether just starting or have been training for years, remember that age is not a barrier; it’s an opportunity for growth and wisdom. Embrace the changes, adapt your training, listen to your body, and approach each session with the mindset of a lifelong learner. The martial arts journey is a path of continuous evolution, and with the proper adjustments, it becomes an enduring and fulfilling adventure.
Shift Your Perspective, Take the Action, Transform Your World.
~ Sifu Alan
Alan Baker is celebrated for his exceptional skill in creating customized Defensive Tactics Programs and his prowess in high-performance coaching. Tailoring his expertise to meet the needs of law enforcement agencies, military groups, and security companies, Alan crafts training curriculums that are grounded in practical techniques, adaptability to real-life scenarios, and intensive, situation-specific exercises. His training methodologies are meticulously designed to elevate the operational effectiveness and situational preparedness of individuals in high-stakes environments. Learn more about Alan’s distinctive programs here.
Beyond his tactical acumen, Alan is also a foremost “mindset” coach, adept at tapping into the untapped potential within individuals. He is particularly attuned to the current societal trend that often overlooks traditional masculinity and the cultivation of strength. Addressing this, Alan champions the development of a warrior spirit — the readiness to confront chaos and take decisive action when necessary. He passionately mentors professionals, entrepreneurs, and individuals on their personal development journeys, focusing on fostering a mindset dedicated to excellence. His coaching is anchored in pragmatic strategies that fortify mental resilience, enhance focus, and stimulate drive. Engaging with Alan sets you on a transformative journey where mental obstacles are overcome, innate strengths are recognized and honed, and your objectives become distinctly attainable. His insights are key in boosting performance and developing a mindset geared for victorious accomplishments.
For a deeper exploration of Alan’s mindset philosophy and his approach to empowering especially men to embrace their strength and resilience, delve into his insightful collection of books. If you’re ready to accelerate your personal and professional growth under Alan’s expert guidance, connect through his official website.