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Canadian Senior Years - online community with content for Canadian seniors
A site designed for all Canadian seniors over 50 with a special section on the Grey Bruce area of Ontario

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Martial Arts for Seniors?
A Fitness Alternative

If your understanding of the martial arts comes from the movies as it does for most people then you can be forgiven for thinking that only 20 year olds practice the traditional martial arts.

One five time winner of the U.S. national grand-championships won his division titles while in his sixties having started his training in karate at forty-seven years old because he was double his health weight and had heart problems.

As the fitness generation edges up into their pre-senior years they have kept their attitude about fitness for health and refused to go gently into muscle loss and frailty. In their search for a stronger and healthier retirement they have the support of a number of university studies that have focused on identifying the process of ageing and methods to slow the process down.

DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY IN HALIFAX reports that after the age of thirty the changes of ageing, loss of muscle mass and strength, brittle bones and tighter joints are inevitable.

Since these changes are exactly the same as the deterioration you suffer from an inactive lifestyle, if you do not exercise into your forties and fifties you are in effect doubling these detrimental body changes.

The good news is that the ageing process can be drasticallly slowed down by a number of things, one of which is exercise, which also reverses the losses attributed to an easy rider of the easy chair lifestyle.

"Active people decline at a far slower [rate]...That means that people who are physically fit can lead an actve life longer. They'll be able to take care of themselves [better than] someone who is sedentary."

They also claim that it is never too late to gain the benefits of exercise whether you are looking for muscle tone, muscle building [size] or joint loosening. Emotional benefits of starting an active lifestyle at any age include feeling better from the release of stress and tension, decrease in depression and increase in self confidence. Osteoporosis (brittle bones) and balance problems also decrease.

While Victoria doctor Richard Backus whose credits include the dramatic recovery of Olympic rower Silken Laumann, is mostly involved with the rehabilitation of injuries, he has found that his work translates well into the special problems of the elderly.

"Much of the ageing we see is not an inevitable process but rather a decline due to prolonged inactivity. We need to reactivate those people."

Even if you are presently nursing an old injury, exercise and not rest is one recommended cure.

"Activity is the key to recovery from soft tissue back injuries, not extended bed rest," says Dr. Kelly Flannigan of Victoria's Summit Rehabilitation. Dr. Flannigan is also known for prescribing martial arts techniques to help show clients how to use legs and hips, and not their back.


The True Goal of martial arts training is to Better Ourselves:
  • to be more capable
  • to better achieve our goals
  • to be more calm, peaceful and content
Character Improvements that students often describe about martial arts training:
  • increased self esteem
  • increased self confidence
  • increased assertiveness emotional control and stress relief
  • ability to work cooperatively in a group
  • ability to lead others
  • initiative and independent learning
  • understanding of other races and cultures
Physical Improvements
  • increased anaerobic efficiency
  • increased aerobic fitness
  • increased strength and flexibility
  • increased stamina
  • firm and tone your body
  • enhanced abilities in all other activities
  • mind / body unity and harmony
  • left / right brain hemisphere integration
  • Increases in balance and coordination will be experienced relatively quickly.
These changes will enhance your abilities in all your activities in your broader lifestyle.

Martial arts training is perfect for all those who hate the mindless repetition of jogging or aerobics classes. Add in the enjoyment of learning about a new culture, the culture of origin of the style you choose, and another world of learning and opportunity for growth presents itself.

This article was written by Ted Truscott, author of Canadian Law: Self Defense and the Martial Artist, past editor of Focus Point Martial Arts Magazine and a contributor to the prestigious Canadian Martial Arts Magazine and the Martial Arts Free Press. Ted is a third degree black belt with the Western Canada Butoku Kai in Shorin-ji Ryu Karate. He earned his Masters Degree in Martial Science from the Eurotechnical Research University of Hawaii, College of Martial Science. Visit his web page at

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