Ruckus Considerations…

The feudal Japanese considered a man to be fully responsible for his actions somewhere between the age of 35 and 40.  Younger men were typically cut some slack in the face of transgressions, for they lacked the life experience to always take the most prudent decisions.

It is also widely accepted in serious martial arts circles that the average Warrior does not peak until he is between 48-53 years old.  This is often where two trajectories intersect: Life experience and the collection of martial skills that translate to physical prowess.  This is where your lifetime of skills blend with your lifetime of experiences to make you as dangerous an enemy as you will ever be.

At 50 you have been younger, stronger, and possessed of more stamina…but you lacked the wisdom of a 50 year old to maximize the physical skills.  At 50, the average lifetime Warrior still has considerable physical prowess, and what the years have taken in terms of a moment or two of reaction time, or a bit of strength, experience has compensated with the ability to anticipate and avoid.  The average 50 year old Warrior has seen enough that he can out-think the average 25 year old who is younger, stronger, faster.

Age & cunning will usually defeat youth and enthusiasm, as they say.  Another common saying that relays the point has something to do with the old bull schooling the young bull about the wisdom of walking down the hill as opposed to running…

But here is the unavoidable point: If we conclude that a Ruckus is inevitable you may never be better physically prepared than you are right now.  In my case I am only 43, but I have beaten my body to pieces several times over in dojo’s across the country since I was too young to drive and in places outside the dojo where those skills earned me a paycheck.  My body aches most days, and new discomforts arrive routinely.

The clock is ticking against me.  If the Ruckus starts in 20 years, I won’t have as much to contribute as I could today.  I think most guys who are passing into their thirties understand what I mean – your body is notably different than when you were in your twenties.  And 40 is a world away from 30!  If you have been a softie for many years, you are behind the curve.  By the time you start looking hard at 50, you have to understand that the body can take unexpected turns, such as heart issues and other medical realities that affect your ability to wade into melee.

CA has posted several times recently about getting yourself in shape, and it is seriously good advice, even if we never have to take the field.  Personally, I have never gone to the gym or worked on free weights or machines.  Throwing your own body weight (and another persons body weight) against gravity is a very effective workout.  Combined with proper sleep and eating habits, you’ll reach the best fighting condition you can expect relatively quickly.

But remember, adjust your plans for the Ruckus based on the realistic expectations of your physical abilities.

Your body gets older and degrades every day, and it takes effort to counter the realities of life.  The best you can hope for is to slow the inevitable.

I don’t care if you are wheelchair bound, or so overweight you start to wheeze just by looking at a flight of steps in a magazine, you can still be a useful member of FreeFor.  But be realistic and build your plans around reality…and work every day to maintain or improve your physical condition.



One thought on “Ruckus Considerations…

  1. In 1999 my mother died and, in a classic case of delayed reaction, it took a couple of months but I was plunged into the deepest darkest depression you could possibly imagine. I peeked down the barrel of a gun on several occasions during that time, and only the thought of the pain it would bring to my family kept me from checking out permanently.

    Refocusing my thoughts away from my depression and onto diet and exercise is a big part of what helped me get thru that terrible period in my life. Initially, while under the influence of depression I stopped eating almost completely. For about 40 days I ate no solid foods, and my only intake was orange juice, vitamins, and coffee. If memory serves me correctly I dropped approximately 25 to 30 pounds during that first phase.

    Note: I am NOT advocating this, merely relating what I did. This causes a horrific strain on the body and I would never repeat this under any circumstances!

    But one thing it DID accomplish was to completely break the “hunger pangs”, the persistent craving for food. By removing the food-wish entirely from my psyche I was free to concentrate on exercise.

    At this point I began exercising with a very mild program of calisthenics and walking that I stuck to every day. With my food intake remaining very low, my workout program was initially pretty mild; almost ridiculously so in fact.

    My early workouts looked something like this:

    5 pushups
    10 situps
    5 leglifts
    1 set with 10 lb dumbbells
    ¼ mile walk

    Pretty tame stuff right? But the key I found out was to be consistent to the point of obsession. Never miss a workout. A little bit done very regularly is far more beneficial than a lot done once in a while.

    The other principal I applied was to continually increase everything. If today’s count was 5, then tomorrow’s would be 6. If today I walked as far as mailbox X, then tomorrow I walked to mailbox Y. Naturally this required strict record keeping, and so I did. I kept a spreadsheet that listed by date everything I did in great detail.

    I kept my portion sizes for all foods very small; kids meal size for everything. At the same time my exercise program continued with an almost religious fervency. Within a few months my daily (and I DO mean daily!) routine looked something like this:

    500 situps
    400 leglifts
    500 crunches
    350 side crunches
    2 hours of weightlifting
    3 – 5 mile runs

    These are not exaggerations in any way.

    Within about eight months I lost 73 pounds. But more importantly I felt GREAT! I had my wind back, my blood pressure was optimized, and I felt good about myself. Needless to say, somewhere along the way I forgot to be depressed. Hell… I had a washboard stomach at the age of 40, something I never had even in the Marines!


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