Wednesday, November 17, 2010


know I am coming a bit late to karate, but how late is too late?   For pretty much all of my younger days, I was never really that interested in athletics. I felt a bit intimidated by my very athletic older brother and (foolishly) never felt I could compete with him. He never made me feel like I had to compete, and as a matter of fact, he alway encouraged me any time I did take up any sport. But it just wasn't in me.  Now, here I am, 54 years old and pushing myself to the edge of my endurance. I have been working on my own fitness program for 2 years now. This summer, looking for something else physical to add to my growing portfolio of physical activities, I started running. I have worked up to do a 5K run at least twice a week. This is along with two evenings a week at karate and every other Saturday as well. I have also managed three 10K runs. I don't think that's too bad for somebody my age.  It still seems kind of weird to me that at my age, I am getting hooked on the adrenaline rush from exercise. What's up with that!!  I have for years been pretending that I was going to do something about my worsening physical condition. I did the classic things like buy exercise equipment that did little else but gather dust. Whenever I had to see my doctor, I would tell him that I was about to start on an exercise program and of course never did, said I was going to cut back on foods that were not good for me... and so on.

Now, our basement looks like a gym. The Bowflex is still there, we are on our second treadmill, there is a combination bike/rowing machine, dumbbells and a number of other things. My workshop also doubles as a home dojo. And there is not a speck of dust on any of it.

I have noticed that sometimes, because of my age, when I walk into something new, some people give me the feeling that they are threatened by my presence. I believe that people may get the impression that because I am older, they think that I may be there to express some kind of dominance or looking for control. I'm not sure just how to express this.

I have however found that after a bit of time and showing that I am there to learn from everyone who will teach me, this uneasiness disappears. Another lesson I have learned as I continue to grow: show that you are willing to learn.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you don't need to and shouldn't just wait to grow old and expect it to happen, because then it will. Yes, I have found that my joints tend to get sore if I run when it's cold. I don't have the flexibility that I may have had if I were doing this at a younger age. I am very conscious of how my heart is performing when I am exercising.
It's not just the body, you need to keep your mind working and sharp. I am doing this by trying to learn a little bit of Japanese. There are katas to learn. Some of these (most) are complicated and have much detail to remember and practice, and practice and practice. None of this comes easily. It takes a huge commitment. Willingness to try things you may not have ever considered or even thought possible for yourself. In the end, you may find, you can.

I think that one of the biggest rewards of being able to grow older and still be healthy was being able to go for a run with my daughter.  Becky was home a few days ago for a visit. After this particular run, we were talking about things that have been going on in our lives. During this discussion, I mentioned that I hoped I would be around a long time so we could continue to have these kinds of  talks. Becky told me that I was just going to have to live to 110.

It may seem a bit reversed, but she is a real inspiration to me when it comes to being fit. She was the one that told me about the high you can get from working out. I thought she was just kidding me. Apparently not.

I feel so fortunate to have this kind of relationship with my kids. I guess I will just have to do everything I can to meet my daughter's expectations. Watching my kids grow into adulthood and be happy in their lives, and in a small way, to be able to share in their lives, is the most gratifing thing I can think of.

With out a doubt, we all have to adapt as our bodies change for whatever reason. I contacted Dr. Forrest Morgan, the author of Living The Martial Way, and asked him if he was still active in the Martial Arts. This is his response:

Due to degenerative arthritis in my feet and knees, I no longer actively train in the martial arts. I still live a warrior lifestyle according to the principles I espoused in LTMW—I keep myself physically fit and continue to serve the nation through strategy research at RAND and teaching the next generation of national security professionals at the University of Pittsburgh—but I no longer strap on a belt and step on the dojo floor.
Warm regards,


Forrest E. Morgan, Ph.D.
Senior Political Scientist
RAND Corporation

Even as we have to change what we do because we have to adapt to changes in how our body works, there is more than one way to continue to "live the martial way."

Now I am looking forward to my retirement when Sara and I will have time to participate and share in some of the many things we have talked about doing when we retire.

We both want to travel to exotic destinations. I hope to be able to devote more time to my photography and videography. There are many other activities we plan to work on, so I guess we are just going to have to keep working on aging in as healthy a manner as we can.

So, stay out there and keep moving. Every day is a gift and we need to do the best we can with that gift.

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