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ciorbaremus's picture
Training methods for aging Karateka

I am 51 and started Karate at 45. I have a confirmed right hip arthritis and I am starting to accumulate more and more injuries. To achieve my goals I may have trained hard but not smart so I am looking for your opinion on this topic. Thank you

P.S. The topic sprung after listening to Iain’s interview with Jeremy Lesniak and after I listen his podcast on Self Protection, Injuries

Marc's picture

First question would be:

Why do you train? What do you want to get out of it?

Depending on your goal, there may be different suggestions. Could be more than one goal, though.



Wastelander's picture

Marc is right about the first question--until you identify why you train, it can be a bit hard to nail down a training plan. I would say, in general, that making your stances a bit higher and more natural would be a good idea, and to evaluate how much mobility your hips have and what limitations that puts on your kicking ability. A good amount of mobility training would probably be a good idea, too. Admittedly, I'm only 30, but I have a good number of joint issues, these days, which I have to train around.

ciorbaremus's picture

I train primarily because I love Martial Arts since I was a kid and practiced Judo for 6 years. I also appreciate the physical and mental benefits of doing it and don’t practice for the competitions (our dojo does not compete at all now and we only had some Kata completions in the past that I enjoyed ok) nor for fighting (not a requirement of my profession and not my character). I train to be the best that I can be in my pursuit of Karate 

Thank you 


ciorbaremus's picture

Thank you Noah for your comments.

I was never very flexible and I know the its importance as well as the importance of stretching and exercising for increasing mobility and flexibility, I always come to the Dojo at lest half an hour earlier to stretch and do such exercises and I do them at home too. What I should do more is stretching and to these exercises after the practice.

I was told to limit kicking the heavy bags with my right leg so I kick a lighter bag we have and also kick with less intensity. It is frustrating that I cannot kick better when doing  partner work since it hinders both partners.

I agree with higher stances and I am trying to do them albeit when doing my katas with intent and intensity I forget about it and do try to maintain a proper stance. My right knee is trying to compensate for the injured hip and now is hurting more than before. Also my right foot toe is developing a bunion that I did not have before, due to collapsing knee.

But I keep doing it and I will practice as long as I can. I may end up having a hip surgery and Peter Constantine’s article after his surgery was a great relief to me that there is a chance to continue my training even after such surgery

Thanks again


Anf's picture

I've asked myself the same thing, as I too am a little bit older than many in our school, and accumulate a few chronic bits and pieces.

Here's my personal approach to this challenge, in a nutshell.

First of all, I thought long and hard about my personal goals. I asked myself, realistically, am I likely to get into a fight? The answer is no, but it is if course possible. If I ever do have to fight, is it likely to be an athletic and acrobatic display of high spinning kicks and fancy footwork etc? No. If I ever have to fight again for real, kicks will be low, and all strikes will be to distract or slow down the assailant or create distance, or serve as a deterrent against continuing the attack.

IF I ever have to fight, what is the most likely profile of my attacker? Probably not a middle aged family man. It's more likely that if I have to fight, it would be against one or more younger assailants. In that situation, if I were to attempt to making it look like a sparring match, I'd quickly be burned out by my younger, probably lighter assailants.

So as an older chap, what are my advantages and how can I capitalise on them?

I realise that battles of every kind are won or lost in the head. OK. That's probably a bit oversimplified but I think it's largely true. I can never pull off some of the acrobatics that my younger peers can, but I can make sure I know exactly what I can do, and ascertain what they can do. I also like to focus on techniques that look like nothing or very little. Martial arts is full of such things. The younger more athletic folks often overlook them, but it's 'soft' skills like judgement of range, staying relaxed so you can move more easily, paying close attention to what you're doing so as to spot if you are telegraphing for example. I play with different guard positions and I like to focus on breathing. I look for everything that is not the showy stuff.

I also like to be efficient in my training. Some clubs have some very old school ideas about conditioning. Stuff that science has long since discredited. If asked to do an exercise that I believe I could do, but would not be good for my joints, I suddenly become very lazy. I don't care, because when it comes to other more effective exercises that won't cause damage, I give it everything, inside and outside of class.

It took me a while to figure all this out, and am still figuring, so it may not be the perfect strategy (probably isn't), but if you can take anything from it, that's great.