Lessons on Terminology and History

with Dan Bernardo, Sabom

How often do you see a young charismatic martial artist who can do backflips, punch and kick at the speed of light, hurl guys back 20 feet with a sidekick or a punch, and can run circles around the older guys?  Quite often, right?  We tend to say they're in their prime, usually their twenties.  I'm 32 right now, so I am starting to feel my age creep up on me.

I can't just throw a backflip without warming up anymore.  So what does that mean about me as a martial artist?  Does it mean my ability to perfom is decreasing?

Well, it shouldn't.  Instead, it should be the opposite.

You see, when we're young we can rely on our muscles and incredibly high metabolism to perform our techniques.  The problem?  As the body get's older, we can't rely on those things anymore.  Instead we need to focus on making our technique structurally sound, or else it will cease to work as we age.

Watch this video of Kyuzo Mifune in his 70's drilling with high level black belts half his age, and sometimes twice his size.  This is a great display of Technique.
Pay no attention to the title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbv2vTBmLs

Will your technique age well like Mifune's has?  Maybe... maybe not.  We really don't know.

Here are two pictures of our Kwanjang Nim performing the same techniques at different ages, note the structure and biomechanics of this technique have actually aged well.

Structural integrity and reliance on proper power train and biomechanics has to be taught and enforced, or else the athletic students will utilize their current assets with no concern for the future.  Martial arts is a life study, afterall.  Look at all of the elderly that practice taijiquan, they are always more structurally sound than the young ones.

But we live in a culture of quick return.  It's almost impossible for a teenager to practice the same fundamentals over and over again so that their technique works properly and effectively when they're 70.  Good luck even getting a teen to sit and think about BEING 70.  Throw in the fact that most schools are incredibly focused on retention, and you get an environment where having kids, teens and young adults focusing on the tiny facets of structural alignment... just doesn't really exist.

Time goes on though, and if we truly want to call ourselves martial artists, we need to focus on the long haul.  We need to be patient, and focus on the little things.  After you read this, go watch some American Sport Karate, and ask yourself... will this age well?

Here, I'll help... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZSaSAf-Rn8

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