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Karate as an adult, is it possible?

Posted Jan 08 2010 10:20am


If you’ve been following some of my new exercise challenges on this site, I’ve already had the chance to try out a few exercises that have really stepped up my fitness.

If you’ve missed those posts, you can still read them here:

1) I HATE skipping rope to keep fit, but I still do it because the results are phenomenal

2) I love fitness boxing so much!

3) Review: TRX Suspension training is VERY intensive!

4) Pull-ups are so hard for women

5) Squats are my secret to a firm butt and slim thighs

6) Women will get bulky if they lift weights?!?!

As you can see I take fitness as seriously as I take nutrition! It’s the combination of both that will really help you age well.

Since I’m always trying to challenge myself a little more with each workout and I’m always happy to try something new, I decided to make karate my next challenge!

I took an intro karate/self-defence class at a local school to see how I’d manage learning karate as an adult.

I have to say that the first class at Northern Karate Schools was a bit nerve-wracking because it’s true that I’ve been training for a very long time and that I had been doing fitness boxing for a while, but this was a whole new ball game and a different way of moving my body.

>>> Session #1 at Northern Karate Schools:

I was somewhat put at ease when my Renshi (teacher) told me that about 40% of their students were adults and I was surely not the first one.

The first session with Renshi Jeff was all about basic moves! I have to say Hallelujah for all those hours of fitness boxing because a number of the stances (positions) were quite easy for me because of the fitness boxing.

After a brief warm-up, Renshi Jeff started getting me into kicks. I have to say that I was comfortable with most kicks, but some of them were quite challenging and before I knew it I was sweating a lot and getting a phenomenal workout!

The biggest thrill from that first session came when Renshi Jeff told me he would teach me how to flip him over my shoulder. OMG! I was finally able to practise one of those action-movie moves I’ve always been dreaming about doing (Angelina Jolie, eat my dust!). I will tell you that I was quite nervous at first because 1) I didn’t want to injure myself 2) I didn’t want to injure Renshi Jeff 3) I didn’t want to let Renshi Jeff down!

I managed to flip Renshi Jeff a few times and then he turned the table on me and flipped me over and taught me how to fall without injuring myself or breaking an arm!

The session ended with a stretch and it was quite humbling seeing how flexible Renshi Jeff was and how I still had to work on my own flexibility!

The first hour of karate left me elated and I walked home feeling like I had overcome something huge: I had broken down the barriers in my mind that made me believe that karate was for kids and teens but not for adults.

>>> Session #2 at Northern Karate Schools:

The second session at Northern Karate Schools was with Renshi Vince. This karate and martial art expert had been practising the sport seriously for over 20 years. I remember that the first thing that came out of my mouth when I met up with him was a comment about a poster I had seen near the changing room. As I was going to my private room to work with Renshi Vince, I noticed a poster showing different karate move performed by older Japanese men all wearing black belts.

When I questioned Renshi Vince, he explained that between each level of black belt there can be 5-10 years to actually be accomplished enough to get the next belt degree … which explains why Japanese men in their 50s, 60s and 70s were still doing karate moves that would leave men 1/3 their age blushing with shame.

The second session with Renshi Vince was really a repetition of session one. Since practice makes perfect it was important to repeat all the moves from the first session to ensure that I had learned the basics!

We (luckily) also did flips and I flipped Renshi Vince and he then flipped me over his shoulder! I wasn’t as nervous this time around and I think it showed in the way I executed the moves!

>>> Session #3 at Northern Karate Schools:

Session #3 was another repetition of the first two sessions, but this time we were flowing between each exercise because I remembered them and knew how to execute them.

I thought the introductory three-private session format to be quite brilliant because it gave me the basics that allowed me to take more classes and not feel so completely lost (and I got my uniform as well!).

Both Renshi Jeff and Renshi Vince put a lot of emphasis on using karate moves as a way of protecting myself … which makes it an excellent self-defence course!

I quite liked that some of the more intensive moves required me to yell out a few words of motivation. I thought that was quite cool and made me feel like I was really mastering this Karate thing!

>>> Specific Karate moves I learned!

The great thing about my three sessions at Northern Karate Schools was getting an assessment of the different exercises I learned. Here’s the list of all the moves I learned:

1. Bow in and warm up (as a sign of respect, you have to learn to bow when entering and leaving a room).

2. How to make a proper fist.

3. Defensive stance (how to position my body to defend myself against an aggressor).

4. High block (blocking by raising my arms above my head).

5. Punch, palm heel, elbow strikes (these are all moves that I execute with my arms or upper body).

6. Knee kick.

7. Front kick (where I extend my leg and kick as hard as I possibly can).

8. Self-defence #1 – front (I learned to defend myself when an aggressor is coming at me from the front).

9. Side kick.

>>> So should you consider Karate as an adult?

I think as an adult, you should not close you doors to any fitness activity until you’ve tried it! I think the most dangerous thing you can do is say to yourself “I’m too old for this” or “I’m too old for that”.

If you undertake an exercise for the first time, your trainer (and you should work with an expert for the first few sessions) will teach you the basics.

If you are disciplined and committed, you’ll get the hang of any fitness activity in time.

You don’t have to go to a gym to stay fit, you just have to find an activity that you enjoy and that you can master … regardless of your age.

Karate is excellent because you build a strong body, a strong mind and a strong spirit. You have to be aware of your body with every move and it works your core muscles beautifully.

So to answer my question:

Yes, you should consider karate as an adult!

>>> About Northern Karate School:


Northern Karate Schools is a story of passion and dedication for owners Marion Manzo Borkowski and her husband Cezar Borkowski. They are both black belts (Marion is a 7th degree black belt while Cezar is a 9th degree black belt, he has won countless titles, is director of Karate for the World Kobudo Federation, and is recognized as a certified instructor by the All Okinawan Karate & Kobudo Federation (Japan).) and they’ve been EXTREMELY passionate about karate for decades. They have 10 schools in Toronto and the GTA with more than 1,000 students per school (about 10,000 in total). Their oldest student is Mr. Mason who is now 72 years old and started karate in 1995 at the age of 58!!! One of the things I particularly love about Northern Karate Schools is how they instil values of discipline, respect and self-respect to their younger students (who are as young as 3 years of age!). In a world where manners, discipline and focus seem foreign words, it’s so refreshing to see how much emphasis Northern Karate Schools places on those core values!

If you live in Toronto, you’ll find more information on Northern Karate Schools here: Northern Karate Schools. You can start with their introductory 3-private session training for only $19.95!

>>> Finding a Karate school in your area:

I don’t think that anyone reading this post will have any difficulty whatsoever in finding a Karate school in their area. You can do a simple Google search or I’m sure you can flip through the pages of your local newspaper to find a school in your area. If you’ve tried other types of activities and nothing has really done it for you, don’t think for one second that you might be too old to try Karate. The great thing about Karate is that you are disciplined; you can escalate levels and keep earning more advance belt colours. If you are really passionate about Karate, after a certain number of years, you could even teach this as a part-time activity!

>>> Here’s a photo of a happy Krizia holding my degree … I’m officially a White Belt now!!!


Top photo by Perfecto Insecto

Photo of Marion Manzo Borkowski from Nothern Karate Schools

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