Some people, as they get older, are wary about learning a martial art. That’s often because of the image martial arts have in this country: One person trying to beat another person to a pulp. When you’re older, that image loses its appeal, especially when it takes longer to heal. Let’s consider what Aikido has to offer the older student.
Moving. Without movement the body rusts. Aikido teaches how to move in a relaxed, flowing manner, while enhancing balance. As students learn to harmonize body and mind, they discover that strength and power come from calmness and relaxation. In the beginning, speed can be a hindrance and physical strength alone inadequate. Remember, when athletes are in the zone, their mind and body are working together for optimal performance.
At first. much time is spent learning how to move in new ways. It’s not hard, but it can be confusing. So it can take a a few weeks or so. A beginner in anything may feel a bit awkward or clumsy. But it’s temporary and everyone on the mat has been there. Best way to deal with it is to practice….and laugh about it.
In Aikido, we don’t compete with others. Instead, we try to improve what we can do little by little. Be better than we were last class. And other students help. By teaching another, you actually teach yourself. Oh, you will m ake new friends.
Today, the West is beginning to learn the benefits of mindfulness. Repetition, without intent or purpose, has limited benefits. Sports psychologists can confirm this. The movements we practice have a specific purpose that will become clear.
The beginner, older or younger, will discover that some beliefs and assumptions have to be discarded because they can be self-limiting. Having an open mind and a good imagination are vital. Self criticism is a waste of time. You can’t learning anything without making mistakes, often a lot of mistakes. Aikido is no different. Remember, it’s said that Thomas Edison tried and failed 10,000 times before he found the right way to make a light bulb. Every mistake teaches us something and the older student is often wise enough and patient enough to understand that.
Now, of course, an older student will not move like a 20 year old. Sigh. But we learn to move better and better with the body we have.
However, one of the best things is to realize the mind’s relationship to the body. This was known to martial arts masters centuries ago and it’s a major component of Ki-Aikido. You’ve heard of chi? In Japanese, it’s Ki. It’s the part about Aikido you can study for the rest of your life.
So, the welcome mat is out. Believe in yourself….and don’t get rusty.
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