Baby Boomer Martial Arts Speak Wisdom?

Old karate baby boomer speaks wisdom? When you reach a certain age, say baby boomer age, ideas spin in your head; ideas, that may or may not make sense due to informational overload, years of experience doing way too many things, but yet yearning to do so much more. In the movie Shaolin, lyrics in the title song said...let me plant a seed of good will and walk this road of life together with you. Sometimes, all it takes is a seed. How we define this, is totally up to us.

As we age, we still have opportunities to learn, fulfill dreams, experience more, make a difference and help make this world a better place to live.

If you have ideas, feel free to send me your thoughts to:

babyboomersensei@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Reviews: The Essential Karate Book and Karate: The Art of the "Empty Hand" Fighting

            As Baby Boomers that plan on embarking on martial arts, research is prudent in making that all too important choice of whether to train or not train.  Since you are reading this blog, we can thank the wonders of the Internet and technology for immediate access, especially those who remember the frequent trips to the library, book mobile and book store. 
            As a martial artist, I recalled how difficult it was to access quality references.  What takes minutes now took days, weeks and sometimes months to meet research demands.  Those of us in the 1960’s and 1970’s can attest, martial arts books were few and far between, difficult to find and hard to access.
            Recently I was asked by Tuttle Publishing (www.tuttlepublishing.com) to read several of their books and write reviews.  The two books were:  The Essential Karate Book by Graeme Lund and Karate: The Art of the “Empty-Hand” Fighting by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard Brown.  After years of training and research, I’ve previously had the pleasure of reading these books.  Both are exceptionally published and provide beautiful representations to the art of karate-do.
            Years before the Internet, I cherished these books and found them not only pertinent to today’s teaching but for what they represent in culture and history.  With that said these books are remarkable references.  For those who have taken traditionally based Japanese martial arts, a big part of training requires the student to learn what goes beyond self-defense.  Studies without the right mindset reduces the process to physical exercise.  At Cal Poly when I took Shoriji-Ryu, the instructor then said “karate is a way of life.  If you want to protect yourself, buy a gun.”  Not to dismiss or reduce the aspect of self-defense, Japanese martial arts rich in culture contain a great deal more than blocks, strikes, and yelling in white cotton robes and colored belts.
            The Essential Karate Book.  He had an opportunity to take karate from two different schools:  Goju and Shotokan and wanted to see which fit best with him.  There is also a DVD that I did not review since I’m sure it provided additional information useful to the reader.
Mr. Lund’s book is one of the few books I would consider complete in providing an overall and detailed aspect of traditional Japanese karate.  It’s well outlined with pictures (too many to count), and descriptions of each of the categories that includes techniques and mannerism, and differences between the major styles.  A gentleman who trained many years in Aikido (grappling martial arts) had asked me to explain the differences between the many karate systems in Japan, and I made it simple.  I lent him the copy of the book.
           
            On Kancho Nishiyama’s book, this is a classic and focuses on Shotokan Karate.  Originally published in 1960, this is one book I searched far during my beginning years in training.  There were only a handful of such books at the time and this was one of them.  When I got the book, I held back reviewing it in fear of damaging the pages, that’s how important this book is.  Yes, it has many pictures (all black and white) that can benefit the karate-ka.  From my perspective, it's a collector’s item, and should be treated so.
            These two books were published by Tuttle Publishing a Member of the Periplus Publishing Group located in North Clarendon, Vermont.  It specializes in Martial Arts, Asian Culture and Literature, Food and Drink, Children, Origami and Crafts, Art Design, Language, History Culture and Business. 
          As you can see, it covers a niche market and from what I’ve experienced provides quality products that opens up many wonderful opportunities of learning that can be enjoyed by many and years to come.
            To learn more about the two books (I reviewed) and Tuttle Publishing, please contact publicity@tuttlepublishing.com

            

Friday, January 24, 2014

Baby Boomer Sensei Writes His First Book!!!

Hi all,

Self promoting myself.  I wrote Torn Gi and a Number Two Lead Pencil, an autobiography about my journey through martial arts.  I've had other people read it and they said it won't win any prizes, but a good read.  Check it out and hope you enjoy it!!!

TORN GI and THE NUMBER TWO LEAD PENCIL

Sensei Domi

Friday, November 1, 2013

Martial Arts for Seniors



Retired baby boomers with time on their hand are now considering taking martial arts whether it be karate, tae kwon do, kung fu, or tai chi. Though many have joined the softer and less aggressive arts like qigong or tai chi, a percentage of them are donning cotton white gis and attending karate classes. Some old timers in denial attempt mix martial arts till they end up the emergency room: Mind is willing but the body says no. Many that have decided to go back into martial arts after retirement are those with some experience, quitting, years back as lower ranking belts returning to finally earn the coveted black belt. Some do so after watching their kids through the years take martial arts but didn’t have the guts to take it then. For whatever reason, it’s something that baby boomers want to do now; a bucket list kind of thing.

First of all I admire anyone wanting to take martial arts regardless of age. Being a baby boomer sensei, I still practice both karate and tai chi almost every day. I don’t attend a dojo or teach classes though I’ve been asked to start a school for AARP card carrying members, martial arts for seniors.
Several weeks ago, I helped judge a tournament and reconnected with fellow martial artist who I’ve known throughout the years. Of course, everyone looked so much older, and not as spry in the legs as in before. To my surprise, many of them still practice in a dojo and pride in surviving, arthritis and all. A close friend and sensei, Ron Lok who is now a high ranking black belt, near if not already 60 years old says he still practices this very difficult kata, Kusankudai, and says with “explosive power.” He also mentioned that he trains with a group of others who are not only in their 60’s but 70’s. Before hearing this, for the past five years, I’ve abandoned almost all karate training due to painful arthritis, sticking with qigong and tai chi; but, after hearing all of my colleagues at advanced ages saying that they’re still working out like young kids, I had to resume my karate training. To my surprise, I was able to get through workouts without much difficulty, no worse than lifting weights or running on a treadmill. I’m of course not going full out like I used to when I was a kid, but nevertheless, adequate enough to feel my heart pound out of my chest and sweat heavy enough to soak my uniform. My arthritis pain had not gone away nor got worse a surprise for me since I expected more pain and grief.

What I’ve learned at my age is that pain will not go away. It’s something I've learn to deal with and get on with my life. Almost all of us, of course there are exceptions, aren’t as athletic as we were 20 or 30 years ago. We aren’t expected to perform as if we are in our 20’s or 30’s, but our lack of youth or athleticism shouldn’t be a deterrent to take martial arts past our 50’s. What needs to happen is to start smart:  Consult with your doctor. For those of you with serious medical conditions, this discussion is not only recommended but mandatory. Strenuous karate workouts could end up bad, and obese individuals with heart conditions would be best to consider a less dynamic art like tai chi.


I think we old timers know where our bodies are and should listen well to the signals. When I decided to reconnect with karate, I knew I was physically fit to handle the workout: I just had a bad back and two bad knees. I learned to hold back on snap kicks and hard twisting motions.

As you decide which school to attend, recon first, see if gray haired grandpas and grandmas in the class or if the instructor’s like me, a senior citizen. Young instructors think they can teach old folks the same as they teach young’uns. Mistake! If possible, join schools that have classes strictly for the 50+ crowd. There’s a place in Naples, Florida called “Bucket List Martial Arts” that teaches classes specifically to baby boomers.
It’s got a motto: “If you’re a kid or want to learn cage fighting, go elsewhere.” I think it’s such a neat concept that I might do something like that here in California, so a martial arts school for senior citizens just might be around your corner. So to you baby boomer martial art wanna-bee’s; talk first to a doctor, listen to your body, be positive, and find a school with baby boomer sensei’s that share your pain.

And for goodness sakes!  Don't forget your muscle and joint cream!!!




Thursday, October 31, 2013

Martial Arts for Seniors Part II: The Bucket List


Sensei Harry Grimm Bucket List Master

Last week I got a nice email from Harry Grimm, founder and instructor of Bucket List Martial Arts in Naples, Florida. Don’t know exactly where Naples is but I know that Florida is clear across the United States from California, way too far for me to take a week end drive, share ice tea and strike up a conversation. Instead, I decided to do the next best thing: visit his website and read his blog. As with many blogs written by martial artists, he provided similar ideas to my own, concepts I’m familiar with. One posting, however, intrigued me and touched my heart. It was a simple story about Arnie Salo, who at 77-years-old enrolled in one of his classes as part of something he wanted to cross off from his personal “bucket list.” True to his goal, Arnie practiced till he reached 80-years-old and earned a brown belt.

The first time I heard of the term “bucket list” was when I saw the movie with the same name starring Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Though it didn’t do well in theaters and reviews were less than impressive, I liked the movie. I was able to see how important it was to reach personal goals regardless of how farfetched they were.

With that said, I still had to ask the question: Why now? Why wait till 77-years-old? The blog did not say what motivated Mr. Salo or why he waited so long. Perhaps as retirement resolved careers and family commitments, he like many individuals in the twilight years of our lives have an opportunity to be selfish but yet still make an impact: to finally earn that college degree; rebuild the beat up old 1958 Chevy that sits quietly in the garage; run a marathon or triathlon; write a book; start a new business; paint a picture; learn to play a piano; teach under privilege children some of our wisdom; walk the face of Mt. Whitney…fulfill an urge that started way back when actors like Robert Conrad in “Wild Wild West,” David Carradine in “Kung Fu” and Bruce Lee in “The Green Hornet” and “Enter the Dragon” opened our eyes to Asian martial arts?

Sensei Harry for years taught martial arts for all ages. Now he has a school specifically for Bucket List students. Never in my mind I'd consider teaching a class specifically for old folks, but then, in the past few years, my body has reminded me of my age, how I've changed, gotten older. Could it be possible for the Baby Boomer Sensei to un-retire the starchy white uniform and open up a school for those who don’t care about fighting in an MMA cage, or perform acrobatic kata, or win eight foot trophies; but instead, learn martial arts for what it is, a method to perfect one’s character; endeavor for something worthwhile; be true to a culture and custom; respect oneself and another’s way of life; and finally participate in a behavior that is positive and beneficial. Could this be one of many reasons why Sensei Harry Grimm decided to start up a Bucket List of his own by helping others cross off a line on theirs?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Taekwondo for Seniors by Russ Johnson

 

"Taekwondo for Seniors," www.seniortkd.com. "Master Russ Johnson, a 67-year-old 5th Dan in Taekwondo, maintains a website that encourages seniors to participate in the martial arts.  

Among the advice he offers is this: "What do you get from a martial-arts workout? Strength training. Cardio fitness. Increased flexibility. Brain fitness from learning new things. And, on top of all this, a setting in which to make new friends. The social aspect of martial-arts training is something you shouldn't underestimate, because researchers agree that maintaining an active social life as you age is extremely important to your overall health." 

You can find Taekwondo for Seniors at www.seniortkd.com."

The May issue of Taekwondo Times has an article sensei Johnson wrote about the benefits of martial-arts training for seniors. The article begins on page 76; link is:

http://read.dmtmag.com/i/116742/4.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Senior Kata 70 to 79 Year Old Division

Looks like some old time Baby Boomers still got it. So if he can, you can!!!