Long ago…well maybe not that long ago, people used to do a quick session of daily exercise for “medicinal purposes”. This was sometimes referrred to as a “tonic” and was meant to help maintain your health.
As we age the body begins to lose flexibility, strength and muscle mass; this is especially true when your over 50 years old. Starting at that age (or earlier) you can loose upto 1% of your muscle mass per year! Think about that for a moment. At 60 years old you would have lost upto 10% of your muscle mass with a corresponding loss in strength and flexibility. That’s a signficant loss and one that could directly impact your quality of life.
Consequently, the older Karateka are, the more important it is to do some form of daily exercise to maintain muscle. Unfortunately the way most Karateka practice, there is very little resistance training done during class other than the occassional calesthetics such as body weight squats or push-ups. These are good exercises, but are done so infrequently and with such poor form that they have little benefit
Ideally, it would be wonderful if every dojo would incorporate a regular, resistance training session into their schedule that incorporated both calesthetics and some form of implement training like: chiishi, sashiishi, makiage, nigirigame, tan or kongo ken. But that may be difficult as the equipment may not be easily accessible or the cost of such equipment is too much.
A simple solution to this is to incorpate a “tonic” into your daily routine. In other words, try to do some resistance excercise everyday to maintain your muscle mass, flexibility and stamina. The exercises don’t have to be anything complicated or overly strenuous. Just choose a set of exercises that your comfortable with and ease into them using low repetitions while maintaining good form.
For myself, I do a very simple tonic in the morning five days a week (the other two days I go to the gym) that consists of:
- Light stretching
- A few repetitions of a kata
- 50 body weight squats
- 50 push-ups
- 10 pull-ups
- 50 chiishi reps
It doesn’t take long and I’m done before I know it. It makes the coffee I have later taste that much better. If you’re not sure how to start or what exercises to do there are many good websites to help you along with a surprising number of apps for your smart phone or tablet. The most imporatnt thing is that you get started. The sooner you do, the more likely you’ll be able to continue training into your older years and still enjoy it.