Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40
Monday 9 April 2012: Issue #28
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 https://martialartsover40.com/subscribe/
Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.
Welcome to this week’s Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40.
In today’s edition I introduce you to Master Lu Zijian, and talk about meditation. If you ever wonder whether martial arts really are going to be something that you can do for the rest of your days, this will be a real treat for you.
If you have been following our Martial Arts Over 40 Facebook page you may have already seen this. But for those people who are not on facebook… Here is something special!
When I created the Martial Arts Over 40 website, I always had the intention of showcasing older martial artists who can show us the way to a long life in our chosen art. I never expected to come across this footage of Master Lu Zijian. Lu Zijian was born in 1893, and the video was taken in 2009. That makes him 116 years old when the video was taken!
He would have been “eligible” to subscribe to this website in 1933!
I am 43 years old at the moment, and have had my moments wondering whether there was really going to be a life-long association with martial arts for me. After all, it all gets a bit harder as you get older. But seeing this man, who is 73 years older than me (!) still able to move so freely and with speed, flexibility, grace and agility just blew me away.
Of course, there’s no absolute way to confirm his age is as claimed, but there does seem to be a bit of evidence on the internet that seems to support the claim. But anyway, even if it’s out by 10, 20 or even 30 years, it is still remarkable footage.
What really stands out for me is the depth of the very low stances that he does. Those stances take a lot of flexibility to get into, and a lot of strength to get out of!
I think this really does prove that martial arts can be a lifelong pursuit.
I’ve been exploring meditation again recently. I say “again” because it has never been a large part of my life, but occasionally I find myself drawn to it again. Usually when I find myself extremely busy, stressed out, and irritable.
In the Taekwon-Do that I practice, meditation has never really played a big part. Occasionally I come across an instructor who incorporates meditation into their classes, or encourages their students to explore it, but it’s never really been actively practiced or promoted.
In other martial arts, meditation is seen as a core part of training. And some instructors go so far as to say that it is inexorably linked with your progress as a martial artist, that without it you are only improving the physical side.
What I find when I rediscover meditation is that it helps put the whole world into order for me. I tend to have many things on the burners at the same time, many different projects and tasks all going at once. It becomes really hard to keep up with everything and actually I end up getting nothing done properly because I flit from one thing to another.
Sometimes even the thought of taking 15-30 minutes out from the schedule to try to meditate is stressful in itself. “But I’ve got so much to do”, my mind will try to tell me.
But if I stay strong and force myself to meditate, the difference it makes is amazing. When I come out of meditation and sit down to work again, suddenly I can focus on all my tasks, and focus on them one at a time. I feel still and calm, so unlike the boiling ocean of thoughts and feelings that we present before the meditation.
And as I practise more and more, the stronger this feeling of calm and being in control becomes ever stronger. All of a sudden I feel like I am floating through the day and nothing can faze me.
Getting back to martial arts, I find that if I am meditating regularly I become more alert in the dojang. My reactions seem quicker and I am able to think more clearly. I listened to a really interesting podcast recently called “Stimulus and Response” and it talked about reaction time, or the time between something happening (stimulus) and you reacting to it (response). And in this podcast the speaker was saying that meditation helps speed up the time between stimulus and response. I won’t go into all the details here, and when I can find the podcast again I’ll let you know where I found it!
If it’s not something you have tried, and you feel stressed, out of control and sometimes want the world to stop so you can get off, or you want to see how it can improve your martial arts, then I do recommend trying meditation.
However, meditation is not actually that easy to do. In fact it is really hard, because your brain seems to abhor a vacuum, and every time you try to empty your mind, your brain just tries to fill the void with something. And soon you find yourself off on a train of thought and examining a problem in your day or thinking about work tomorrow.
What works best for me is guided meditation. This is where you can put the meditation on your stereo, lie back and just listen and follow the instructions. One of the most amazing meditations I ever had was a guided meditation. [I just started to describe it here, but it looked very odd when written … you would have thought me a bit odd!]
Some good guided meditations to get you started can be found here. It’s the easiest way to get started in meditation for sure.
I’ve had an extremely busy Easter weekend, starting with getting the chainsaw out and cutting up a pile of wood that’s been sitting there for a couple of years. Then somehow we ended up moving the entire house around. The spare room became my son’s room. My son’s room became my daughter’s room. My daughter’s room became my office. And the rumpus room is now a combination rumpus room and spare bedroom.
It’s amazing how much stuff our children have accumulated in their short time on the planet. It took us pretty much two days to move everything around, but we are nearly done now.
That all started because I said out loud that I wanted a proper office, and so we started talking about moving house. Somehow that morphed into just switching the rooms around, which is a far less stressful and expensive process!
Please get in touch if you have anything at all to ask or say. I welcome all and any feedback.
All the best!
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Quote of the Day
Your Spirit is the true shield
– Morihei Ueshiba