Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jiu jitsu and aging...another year older, with one hand deeper in your collar

I'll be honest with you - I'm not a huge fan of birthdays. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be aging, since the only alternative to doing so is death (there - see where my mind goes?). But my birthday is generally something that I dread as it approaches and then try to embrace at the last minute as it finally rears its head.

My main beef with getting older is twofold:

1) I had a fairly religious upbringing and did 13 years of hard time in Catholic school. Yet, I am not much of a believer myself. I've spent too much time immersed in religion to not give serious thought to aging and what finally happens when we stop. But I can't tell you what ensues from there. It is possible that I am slowly inching my way toward becoming worm food, and that's a hard concept to grapple with (pun intended).

2) Before I even found jiu jitsu, being an athlete has been a huge part of my identity. Kicking butt in sports is a major aspect of who I am. Yet, reality dictates that we start to lose our athleticism as we age. Over time, we become slower, weaker, less flexible, and require longer recovery time. (Yes, thinking about getting older makes me into a bit of a Debbie Downer).  

So far, I have refused to compete in the IBJJF masters division because I am still competitive among the younger folks. Eventually, though, I expect this to change. I will fight it kicking and screaming, but one day I will come to a point where I can no longer safely or effectively compete with the 18-year-olds in my skill division.

This week I turned 33 and, true to form, I did not acknowledge my impending birthday until the last minute. When I finally did, I began telling people I was "23 and 10." 33 is a really high number that I didn't want to cop to. But "23 and 10?" That's not nearly as bad.

But here's the awesome thing about jiu jitsu - technique is more important than strength and athleticism. I know for a fact that 33-year-old Kim could beat up 23-year-old Kim. Now, 23-year-old Kim was a pretty tough gal - she was strong and quick and spent her free time doing marathon open water swims. But she had never even heard of jiu jitsu and knew squat about fighting or self defense. I could choke that bitch, without a doubt. And I am certain that 43-year-old Kim will one day be able to choke out my current self.

And that's what drives me to keep training as I get older. Technique overrules physical attributes. It motivates me to know that I will continue to get better, and to spar better, for a really long time. So if getting older means getting better at jiu jitsu, then maybe it's not so bad.


1 comment:

  1. I just want to clarify that I am not trying to disparage the masters divisions for Jiu Jitsu or any other sport and I am really sorry if it came across that way. The purpose of my post was to explain why I get a little bummed around my birthday and how Jiu Jitsu helps me deal with that