Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40
Monday 10 October 2011: Issue #2
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Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.
Welcome to the second edition of Alive and Kicking, the
newsletter for martial artists over 40.
In this edition we take a look at some of the changes that take
place as you get older, and the importance of continuing to
exercise as we age.
I’ll also be talking about some exciting new developments for
martialartsover40.com, some great content coming your way.
One of the things that I frequently hear people complain about as
they get older is that it becomes harder to maintain their
You may also be experiencing this. I know I am!
What I learned while researching for the website is that this is
not entirely a muscular thing. The body is a complex thing, and
as well as muscles, we have to be concerned about tendons,
ligaments, cartilage, joint capsules, and connective tissue.
It is actually these tissues that cause the biggest problems with
flexibility as you age. Essentially as you get older you have
less collagen, which is the main supporting protein in connective
Because of the loss of collagen you will also experience a loss
in pliability and elastic properties of the connective tissue.
Joint capsule issues also make up a very large proportion of the
loss of flexibility. This is one I am very familiar with
personally – with a very troublesome shoulder.
So how to combat these issues? Simple really – and unsurprising.
You may think of stretching as a purely muscular activity. But
actually while you are stretching you are also preventing cross-
linking of collagen, helping your connective tissue remain
pliable. You are also improving blood flow to the area.
So even if you are finding stretching to be frustrating (perhaps
those kicks are getting lower and lower), it’s important to
maintain a routine of regular flexibility work.
It will really pay off in the long run.
I’m really excited about what I have coming up for the martial
arts over 40 site. I’ve been talking to my personal trainer,
Steve Rickard, about doing something special just for us.
Steve is a WTF Taekwondo black belt, and was one of New Zealand’s
top competitors. But he’s also a very well-known and well-
respected personal trainer. I’ve been seeing Steve for about a
year for my own extra training, and the improvement I’ve seen in
my own strength and conditioning has been amazing.
Steve, along with his partner Dan, now own a small niche gym in
my home town of Wellington, New Zealand.
Anyway, Steve’s knowledge about strength and conditioning is
amazing, and this is what I’m so excited about.
Steve has agreed to get together with me and do a range of videos
especially for us. With the idea being to focus in on developing
a range of home-based exercises that will allow the older martial
artist to me more prepared for what goes on at training. Being
prepared, being conditioned, has multiple advantages. Firstly you
are likely to enjoy your training more, but probably more
importantly being properly conditioned greatly reduces the chance
I do have to say though that I’m a little nervous about it… I’m
going to be the exercise crash-test-dummy in the videos, so I
could be in for a hard time. We thought about getting someone
else to do it, but given that the idea is to show how someone
with an aging body can be fully active.. I’m the perfect
candidate. Even though I’m only 42 my body is starting to fall
apart with all the abuse it’s received over the last 20 years!
More on that later!
Anyway watch this space.. like I say, I’m pretty excited about
this, as I think it is something that can help a lot of people.
And because we are going to try to make it home-based (or with
limited equipment), it means that you can prepare for your
martial art easily at home. No need to get out for extra gym
training. Perfect for those with busy lives.
I had my MRI scan on my knee the other day, and the news is not
good. There are all sorts of nasty things going on in there!
Firstly I don’t have an Anterior Cruciate Ligament – but I
already knew that. That’s been gone for about 10 years.
Secondly there is arthritis in the knee. This seems to be a
particular problem I am facing, as I also have bad arthritis in
my shoulder. Arthritis is where the cartilage that usually covers
the ends of the bones is worn away. If you’ve ever looked at a
chicken bone you may have seen the whiter ends of the bones.
White and smooth… and it’s this smoothness that allows the
bones to move over each other. When that is gone then things
aren’t quite so smooth.
I also have a “horizontal cleavage tear” in the meniscus. This is
a lateral tear going from the outside of the knee towards the
inside… almost parallel to the ground.
And finally I’ve got the area in the scan which my sports doctor
described as “a mess”. He’s unsure of what exactly it is. It
could be a messed up meniscus, or it could be more cartilage
separating from my bone.
So it seems that I now have a visit with the Surgeon coming up. I
can’t get in to see him until February though. That’s ridiculous,
but unfortunately there’s not a lot I can do about it.
Is this the end of my martial arts career? No way.
I know people with FAR worse knees than mine who are still
active. And more importantly there is the whole “use it or lose
I know that if I stop exercising I will just deteriorate even
more. The muscles around my knee are helping out big time at the
moment and if I stop exercising then I won’t have that strength
to help carry the joint.
I’ll probably have to modify what I am doing. But stopping is not
That is it for Alive and Kicking this week. As always, I really
love to get your feedback. Please do this by replying directly to
this email, or leave your comments at:
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and getting a hold of this newsletter.
Soon after I send this newsletter out I’ll put something on the
Facebook page (http://facebook.com/martialartsover40) saying that
the latest newsletter has gone out, and let people know how to
I would really appreciate it if you could “Like” that Facebook
post, to help spread the word amongst your martial art buddies.
Thank you so much for subscribing (and reading!).
All the best!
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Quote of the Day
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I
fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
– Bruce Lee
Just For Fun
Did you know… A donkey will sink in quicksand but a mule won’t.