Are you too old to train? The Mike Tyson comeback…

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

I’m excited. Amid all the doom and gloom of Coronavirus and the fear in the world today, I saw something to potentially get excited about… The return of Mike Tyson to boxing.

That’s right… THE Mike Tyson!

Sure it will be for some exhibition matches raising money for charity, probably for 3 or 4 rounds, but hey! This is exciting stuff and got me thinking…

At what age should you hang up for gloves for good?

Tyson is now 53 years old and has his last fight 15 years ago at age 38. His return to the ring for some will be exciting and even inspirational, yet others, most notably George Foreman, have warned him to stay out the ring and that he has nothing more to prove.

So what do you think? Is there a time when a fighter should just retire, never to step foot in the ring or cage again and when is that time?

I’ve heard a few times martial artists say that the difference between martial arts and combat sports is that combat sports often have a peak. An age where you are as strong, fit and agile as you can possibly be.

After this peak has been reached, there is a steady decline where the body simply cannot take the same amount of punishment as it did before. Skill diminishes therefore retirement happens.

With martial arts however, the peak doesn’t reach as early as skill level increases consistently. A fine example of this would be Dan Inosanto – aged 83 and still hosting seminars around the world (pre-corona) and as skilled and talented as he ever was.

This may be due to a number of reasons:

The punishment the body takes…

Professional fighters put their bodies through so much on a daily basis. From regular hard sparring sessions, to fitness building that takes you to the edge and pushes you both mentally and physically – combat sports are tough man! That’s not even counting the fights themselves! Repeated kicks to the legs, punches to the body and head and general wear and tear take their toll and this for sure is a reason why combat sport competitors reach a peak.

Martial artists on the other hand – by broad stroke and not all, tend to train a little less intensely. Many don’t fight competitively, preferring to train for their own reasons such as fitness, health and personal safety perhaps. When and if they spar, it’s technical sparring which doesn’t kill you at the end and the level of punishment the body takes simply isn’t the same.

The martial art you choose…

Some martial arts are built with health and longevity in mind. If we look at some of the more esoteric martial arts such as Tai Chi or even some forms of Aikido (I know, I trained Aikido), the movements are more flowing and graceful. Many cite martial arts as a fantastic way to stay healthy, but this really does depend on the martial art you choose!

Enter the shark tank in an MMA gym, have an hour rolling session in BJJ or a hard sparring session and ask yourself at the end if you feel healthy! I’ve even had Aikido sessions where I have thrown up from exertion and the next day every inch of me has been bruised and achy – Thanks Joe Thambu Sensei…

The martial art you choose and it’s main function will often depend if you hit a peak. You don’t see many active 60 year olds in a kickboxing gym, but will see that age practicing Kung Fu or Tai Chi perhaps. Certain martial arts hit a certain demographic and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

So to bring it back to the original point… Should there be an age where you can no longer fight competitively?

Are you fighting competitively now and what’s your plan for the future? Will you do a Tyson and fight until you can’t anymore?

Are you getting older now and has your training adapted and changed as a result?

Are you young and simply wanting to just kill someone in training?!

Let me know!

Bend don’t break!

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Bend don’t break!

Its recently been highlighted to me the importance of stretching before and after training. I’ll be the first to admit that I had very little stretching routine and I am about as flexible as a brick. This was shown however when I attained an injury a few months back that I am just starting to get over now!

This injury probably wouldn’t have occurred had I bent more so as not to break! Martial artists are especially in need of stretching in my eyes as we use our bodies so much and in such a variety of ways. Depending on the art of style we may be doing head high kicks, requiring flexibility in the legs and hips. We may need to fall correctly to safely get out of throws or locks, again requiring flexibility. As martial artists we constantly punish our bodies through training, pushing ourselves to develop further. There is a massive need therefore – to stretch!!

It’s boring and I really don’t enjoy it. I’d prefer to just get on the mat and train or hit the gym and lift the weights, but flexibility can help in so many ways! It can reduce injuries, but also build muscle and increased recovery time when working out and so, speaking from experience, get stretching people! I am just starting to get back to training after suffering sciatica (at 24?!) which was probably induced by throwing my body around and punishing it too much, and not stretching appropriately before and after! I now am making a solid effort to get flexible and build it back up as a few weeks ago I literally couldn’t bend at the waist due to the sciatica! It’s getting better now slowly but surely, and when it is better I will ensure I maintain a stretching routine so that it doesn’t happen again, because trust me, it was no fun!

So stretch everyone! Probably not as much as the girl in the video above……she apparently has no bones, but bend so you don’t break!!