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?


  1. Great post thanks for sharing such informative post.
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  2. Martial arts is also a form of exercise, so you can add it in the list as a benefit. But you’re right; why wait to turn 60 or 70 to do such thing? Like you've said, it’s something that is positive, so it’s for the best to start this habit at an early age. ~Ari @ Infighting Fitness & MMA Academy