|Morio Higaonna sensei at 70 years old - sanchin kata, Makishi 2008|
So...at 60 I'm getting a bit long in the tooth, but then I thought of the sensei I have learnt from, and they have always been older than me. Miyazato sensei has now passed away, but Higaonna sensei is still very much alive and training, and the same is true of both of my Shito-ryu sensei. So, what is it about karate that allows you to keep training into old age, when other fighting arts see their practitioners call it a day as early as their 30's?
Boxers don't box and wrestlers don't wrestle once the flush of youth has passed, and yet the Asian martial arts produce old men (and women) with fighting abilities that seemingly contradict nature. If a 60 year old boxer can't handle a 20 year old boxer, and a 55 year old wrestler is easily beaten by a grappler half his age....how come there are so many karate sensei out there able to drop a student to the ground in front a class whenever they feel like it?
A couple of things to consider here...the psychological impact of 'role playing', and the reality that most martial arts training is now closer to 'choreography' than 'karate'. Remembering techniques has taken precedence over developing a feeling for them, while adherence to a syllabus has become the main conduit through which karate is passed from one generation to the next. People now 'learn' karate from someone who 'teaches' it, and so there is little need for an experienced karateka to 'transmit', through their daily behavior, something that a student (if they have prepared themselves sufficiently) is able to 'receive'.
I'm not sure why you learn to fight from old men, or 'what' it is you think you're learning to fight, but for me, all my sensei had something about their nature that I admired. None of them have been perfect human beings, but then I've never been interested in seeking perfection: only contentment. With age comes experience, from which it is possible (if you're properly prepared) to receive something of value that you might take and carry into your own life.
It might not suit you, but it's always been reason enough for me....