“Midlife martial arts? I can wholeheartedly recommend it! When I decided to try karate, I was 43 years old. That was 15 years ago and has led to a second-degree black belt.

If it hadn’t been for one of my twins, who, at the age of 10, wanted “to do karate,” I probably would not have given it a thought. Not knowing anything concrete about the martial arts, we decided on a family membership to the local Y and enrolled him in the karate course. Although the philosophy taught in class resonated with me, it wasn’t until I saw kata, the series of dance-like movements, that I was hooked. I wanted to learn! Little did I realize the impact it would make on my life.

Karate, taught well, provides a gradual mastery of techniques and consequently, fitness. Regular class instruction is sprinkled with calisthenics and, to my delight, meditation. As I progressed through the belt system, the total package of stretching, upper body technique drills, push-ups, stomach crunches, leg raises, lower body techniques and meditation started to spill over into other activities.

Now, I was doing things I saw young men do. My personal favorite: two steps at a time climbing stairs! I was also on the floor more of time and getting there with the same ease as a child. I kept telling my friends that I had rediscovered the ground, previously seen as a far-away land, friendly only to the young.

I also found that my range of motion had increased considerably. By the time I was an advanced brown belt, my stretching partner could lift my straightened leg completely up to my chest as I leaned on a wall. It was a surreal event. I was watching my leg go up, up, up, without any discomfort whatsoever! The few minutes of meditation in each general class helped grow my interest in attending the 45-minute meditation class given weekly. Over time, it led to the cultivation of a daily practice at home.

Functional fitness has been among the latest trends in exercise science. Through karate, I became functionally fit in a fun way, feeding my mind and soul as well!“

by guest blogger Natasha Spearman-Isip


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