Thursday, February 6, 2014

Health and Arizona Martial Arts

People are surprised at how healthy many martial artists appear. One of my student sensei (instructors) from Mesa, Arizona, who practices karate in mesa, is a retired pilot in his late 60s who has suffered through many physical ailments. We are surprised to hear about his many past problems. Nowadays, when he visits the doctor for a checkup, his physician asks, "How old are you?" apparently impressed by his overall physical condition expressed by favorable blood pressure and heart rate that this Sensei directly attributes to his training in martial arts since retirement.

Another student was a professor of linguistics when I taught martial arts at the University of Wyoming. This student began training while in his 70s and told me that he looked forward to learning martial arts much of his life. However, when he was younger, he was a professor at a university ruled by communists in Estonia, who would not allow him to train in martial arts. This is something people should think about before they again elect a person with ties to a communist and socialist past. This was a common phenomenon behind the Iron Curtain where the government first took away all civilian guns, then eliminated perceived political opponents through mass genocide (as many as 100 million people have been murdered by communists), and restricted all freedom at every level. At least three of my students and one co-author suffered through communists regimes, and they still suffer though nightmares of those times. I suspect that many of my Vietnamese students also suffered. But back to this student. When he was in his 80s, he was in excellent health and had excellent memory and was actually the fastest of any of my students.

Sketch of Funakoshi by Soke Hausel
This is a common phenomenon in martial arts. The father of modern karate and a Shorin-Ryu Karate Master, Gichin Funakoshi, wrote in his book - Karate-Do - My Way of Life about health and martial arts training. He wrote, while in his 90s, "Thanks to my devotion to Karate-do that I have never once had to consult a physician. I have never in my life taken any medicine, no pills, no elixirs, not even a single injection. Karate-do is not merely an art that teaches how to strike and kick, it is also a defense against illness and disease".

Personally, when I see people who are out of shape, like those folks we see in Walmart who waddle into the store and immediately plop down on an electric scooter to usher themselves around the store, I have to feel for them. All it would take is for them to get out of those chairs and start training in martial arts to see a dramatic change in their health.

A few years ago, I tore a meniscus in my left knee due to a physical defect I was born with. I had to have surgery and they gave me crutches to walk out of the facility, which I did not use - I barely had a limp. I attended physical therapy where the therapist was amazed at my abilities the first day of therapy and progression over the next few weeks. I was told they only had one other person who was as far as long as me after similar surgery, a professional basketball player who was nearly 45 years younger. This was all due to my training in Shorin-Ryu Karate-do.

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