Alive and Kicking #33 – Middle Aged Martial Artists Older But Smarter, plus Pain and Supplements

by on May 15, 2012

in Alive and Kicking


Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40


Monday 14 May 2012: Issue #33

Alive and Kicking is published once a week for opted-in subscribers only. If a friend has forwarded this to you, please opt-in at

Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.


Hi there!

Welcome to this week’s Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40.

Today, in the third installment of his series on Pain in the older martial artist, Craig talks about supplements and why they are important. Also I tell you why martial arts make you smarter!


Training In Martial Arts Builds Brain Bulk
by Liz Henry under CC BY-ND
Training In Martial Arts Builds Brain Bulk


I found this excellent article in the New York Times which I just had to share with you. It’s not specifically about martial arts, but about the boost that exercise can give your brain.

From the article How exercise could lead to a better brain…

The value of mental-training games may be speculative, as Dan Hurley writes in his article on the quest to make ourselves smarter, but there is another, easy-to-achieve, scientifically proven way to make yourself smarter. Go for a walk or a swim. For more than a decade, neuroscientists and physiologists have been gathering evidence of the beneficial relationship between exercise and brainpower. But the newest findings make it clear that this isn’t just a relationship; it is the relationship. Using sophisticated technologies to examine the workings of individual neurons — and the makeup of brain matter itself — scientists in just the past few months have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does.

Note the use of the words in there. “Exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage”.  Of course as you age, your body changes. It wears out, muscles and tendons become less flexible, you lose strength, and apparently your brain shrinks!

But does it have to be that way?

Exercise though seems to slow or reverse the brain’s physical decay, much as it does with muscles. Although scientists thought until recently that humans were born with a certain number of brain cells and would never generate more, they now know better. In the 1990s, using a technique that marks newborn cells, researchers determined during autopsies that adult human brains contained quite a few new neurons. Fresh cells were especially prevalent in the hippocampus, indicating that neurogenesis — or the creation of new brain cells — was primarily occurring there. Even more heartening, scientists found that exercise jump-starts neurogenesis. Mice and rats that ran for a few weeks generally had about twice as many new neurons in their hippocampi as sedentary animals. Their brains, like other muscles, were bulking up.

That’s awesome news! Now there’s is even more reason to keep on at the martial arts, even as you get older. You are building not only a strong fit musculo-skeletal system, and a powerful cardio-vascular system, but you are also boosting your brain.


Avoiding Pain With Supplements.

I hope you enjoyed the first couple of articles in Craig’s series on Pain and the Over-40 Martial Artist. If you didn’t get a chance to read them then you can find them here:

Part One – Pain and the Over-40 Martial Artist

Part Two – The Influence of Diet on Pain and Injury in Older Martial Artists

In today’s installment, Craig goes into the importance of ensuring you are getting all the nutrition you need, and maybe the need for supplements to provide anything that might be missing. Without the complete package your body will struggle to do the job it needs to do when it comes to making you strong in the first instance, and then repairing any damage that you might have done to yourself in your latest session in the dojo.

Candy recently posted on the MAO40 Facebook page about pulling a hamstring in week two of her training. This is not an uncommon story, especially as we get older. But you can go a long way to avoiding this sort of problem if you are on top of your diet.


Finally, take a look at this article on the Wall Street Journal:  (this is just an excerpt – click through to see the whole thing)

Earning a black belt, the traditional symbol of self-defense proficiency, took Mr. Roe nine years after his first class at age 50. Since then he has advanced in rank to third-degree black belt, a rise accomplished by less than one of every thousand martial-arts students of any age, according to veteran instructors.

It’s a far cry from tai chi, the Chinese system of slow, graceful noncontact movements long associated with older adults. But so-called hard martial arts–tae kwon do, karate, kung fu, judo and aikido–are attracting more students age 50-plus. Mr. Roe, who credits his rough and tumble workouts with increasing his flexibility and balance, says, “Anyone my age can do it if they have the desire.”

Of course, the kicks of older combatants may not be Bruce Lee-style head shots, and they don’t have to be. Instructors at many of the roughly 30,000 commercial martial-arts schools in the U.S. increasingly are tailoring programs to older students, in whom they see the potential for an expanded clientele.

What inspires me about this is that it has been published by a major mainstream publisher. Martial arts for older people is becoming mainstream. As you can see in the last sentence above, martial arts schools are starting to put on classes specifically for older people. Perhaps we are seeing the end of the days of having to put up with a bunch of testosterone-fuelled teenage boys who think they are the second coming of Bruce Lee!


OK – that’s it for this week. Make sure to check out the third article in the series on pain here.

Remember, if you have anything you want to say, ask or contribute, you can drop me an email or leave your comments on Facebook. You can also comment directly on the website.

All the best!


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Quote of the Day


The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.
– Robert Frost

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