Age no barrier to Karate
IOGKF Australian 1st Kyu, Zeke Ezra, shares his experiences and opinions on one beginning Karate training in their later years, along with the benefits this brings on…
Having seen my father get quite frail and lose muscle as he approached his sixties I could see the writing on the wall for myself. He was more athletic and into exercise in his youth than I was so I could not see how I could avoid this happening to me. I was approaching 57 years of age and having sat behind a desk for the previous 30 years without much exercise I started to worry. After all I was aiming to slow down at work and do all the things I wanted to but never did.You needed to be fit and robust to be as active as I wanted and needed to be.So just walking for half an hour a day was not going to do it for me.I needed a more “rigorous “ exercise regime.
I was not banking on Karate as the recommendation when I posed the question to Australia’s marathon man Rob deCastella, himself a black belt .“Come along to a couple of sessions and see how you like it” he said. Seeing I had asked and did not want to find an excuse without at least obliging him I went to a few sessions. For an unfit 57 year old it was hard but the encouragement and advice I received right from the start was invaluable. “Work at your own pace and do your best.” Meant that I needed to know that there was no expectation on me to keep up with the younger or more accomplished members. I recall being told that I should however give it at leastthree months before deciding to give it away .Well 5 years later and one grading away from a black belt (although that was never my aim) I can say without any hesitation it is the best advice I have received for my health and well being.
With more muscle and stamina, going the way my father did is no longer a worry. My balance and core strength is as good as if not better than at any time in my life.I have not had to fight nor break bricks or planks of wood to achieve this. Classes twice a week for a two hour duration each plus sessions at home or occasionally with others. Some work at the gym with weights is also recommended but I have not gone that far.
Shortly after I commenced my GP suggested I have a bone density scan which revealed the early onset of osteoporosis.The bone specialist surprised me when he said the exercise I had described I undertook at karate was likely to help by building muscle around the bones. “Don’t stop” he said “however avoid hard contact and if you break a bone we may need to re evaluate things”.Well so far so good.
The karate group I belong to is under the auspices of IOGKF Australia. It follows the Okinawan Gju Ryu Karate under the leadership of Sensei Morio Higaonna . My instructors Sensei Joe Roses and Sensei Ari Takkinen along with the black belts in my Canberra chapter have been wonderfully supportive and helpful. Before long you feel one of the group and in recent times my age seems irrelevant as I have the confidence and ability to perform at my grade.
More recently I have had the privilege to train with Sensei D J Lambert in Goulburn. At the ripe young age of 21 he is not just a fantastic karate ka but a wonderful teacher.I suggested to him that he needed to build a class of older citizens so they could benefit as I have from this wonderful form of exercise. In fact karate is much more than that and we are never too old to benefit from the teachings and messages that it offers. I am writing this article so it may reach people of my age and say that karate practiced with common sense and under well trained instructors is about the best form of exercise you can get.If you have ailments and injuries you need to disclose these and while in certain circumstances they may mean that karate may not be for you, in many cases it is about ensuring you are in the best physical state to enjoy a life as you age.Karate is definitely one way to achieve this.