Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Getting Older

Hi all, 
I haven't written a post for a while - very much same as you - I've been flat out with life. 
But here I am and I'm glad you could make it too.
By now you've seen the subject I put up - "getting older" - but aside from when normal people complain about getting older with things like achy bones, wrinkles and "the roomatiz", what would I possibly cover with such a title?


Well y'see, it's a bit like this....

Recently I've returned to martial arts training again (so far only 2 sessions) with a fellow martial arts instructor by the name of Javier. 

Javier (pronounce Have-ee-air) is originally from Argentina and does an art known as Pa Kua*.  He's been all around South America, Spain and France helping instructors be better at what they do and how they fight/act/think –something very similar to what I've done locally minus the overseas travel. He's a genuinely nice guy, a man I now count as a friend, tends to approach life in a similar way that I do, is a 4th degree black-belt and like me, enjoys the challenge of pitting his skills against someone equal, better or higher graded.

In truth, each night we train, both of us laugh most of the time as its just plain fun for both of us. Instructors don't ever get much opportunity to square off against each other since the fighting can be fast and does often result in strikes/kicks/throws that could seriously injure the other if either of us allowed them to "follow through". For he and I, the differences in styles and approach are easy to see but the similarities are also just as obvious. 

After classes he and I often discuss philosophy, martial history, new skills for teaching others, tried and tested self-defence techniques, new ones, carry out weaponry displays, then the normal guy stuff and joke around.  

Now the point of this little background story is....
He's 31 years old.  And I'm 43.
Given this, generally speaking compared to Javier - a young man who has an infectious zest for life and has dedicated a great portion of his life to the pursuit of Pa Kua and all it stands for - I am an old man, somewhat the edgy result of a life led slightly hard (one kidney, fused lower back, very few nerve endings left in my shins etc) and who works in an office 45 plus hours a week with work done at home too.  
Logically, given the age difference and the fact that I have more surgical steel in my body than most, this should put me at a HUGE disadvantage right?

Yes. Absolutely.  
He was being born when I was entering my teen years. So there is no way I could be any kind of challenge…right? Seems logical he'll just outclass me and beat me up...
Well, funny thing.

The actual answer is "No".  
And welcome to the point and the reason I've put together this post for you.

The moment Javier began circling me on that first night and we began trading kicks, elbows and punches, I realised that we are only restricted by the things society tells us, by the things we tell ourselves and by the things we have endured up until that moment. The moment he realised I was going to be at least a challenge for him in the early rounds, a healthy level of respect between us developed too. I'm partially sure he may have thought he could outclass me too based on my age and "more salt than pepper" beard, and I wouldn't have blamed him one bit.

Sure, in some ground work I did expose my kidney to a little bit of uncomfortable aching when I refused to give up when I should have, which made me feel like a bit of an idiot as the night got cut short due to pain - and some concern - and played on my mind for the remainder of our session. But Javier was very gracious about it.  

So at my age am I as fit as Javier? No. But will I be in time? Yes. 
Could I also keep up as we cycled through round after round? Yes early on, no later on. Again a stamina issue.  The rounds had to get shorter and shorter but (a good thing for my own pride) Javier was struggling to breathe a bit too.

So the moral to this post - some insights I would like you to think about;
  1. Had I have told myself that I was too old/unfit to fight Javier, I wouldn't have tried. I would have lost before I started. I also wouldn't be now possibly challenging another 5th degree black belt who is visiting NZ from the USA.
  2. Had I have believed society had already counted me out as a real contender after the age of 25, I wouldn't have tried and I would have lost before I started again.
  3. Had I have believed my own self-doubt that crept in that I couldn't be a worthy opponent for a 31 year old 4th degree black-belt; neither he nor I would be having as much fun as we are 7:30pm until midnight and building a great friendship along the way. 
So ask yourself - how often do you defeat yourself before you even start?

The world and the people in it can occasionally pass judgement on you prematurely and count you out when you have plenty left up your sleeves.
I would like to suggest that if you are ever faced with a situation in which you don't think you can do it, or you can't succeed because you "might feel silly", "discover limitations you didn't know you had", "fail" or "waste someone's time" then try anyway. 

Dont deprive yourself of an opportunity to discover something about yourself, to grow.

If you don't try, if you never apply, if you never actually decide to get into the ring of your own life – then you will never know what you are capable of and what opportunities you could have with the right approach and attitude.


Above is a picture of the New Zealand Pa Kua family. Javier front right. 
You might recognise some other faces in the background too...


If you would like to know more about Pa Kua, I strongly suggest you go along for a few sessions if you have a school nearby. 

For those of you who live in Tauranga NZ - it is in Greerton directly across from the Library - and tell him I sent you - your first class is always free. 

Pa Kua is excellent fun for your children, grandchildren and even for yourself.

And new friendship aside, I am happy to say that Javier is one of the best instructors of martial arts in the Bay of Plenty and if you have an interest in self defence, archery, yoga, philosophy or Tai Chi, go see him or feel free to discuss with me/flick me an email if you would like to know more.
Parting shot - don't let those around you or yourself decide what you can or cant do with your life. 

You only get one, live it well.