View Full Version : When It's Time To Stop

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Vieux Normand
9/01/2009 10:04am,
Every so often, a poster--in a paroxysm of originality combined with an obvious deep knowledge of search-function technology--comes up with a "new" thread entitled "Why Did You Start Training Martial Arts?". Accompanied by a poll or not, the usual suspects are fitness, competition, self-defense, job-related, culturalarping, and a few others.

There may also be a number of threads dealing with the topic of switching from one MA to another, or asking why Bullies remain in their MA of choice.

Far fewer, however, are threads dealing with stopping altogether. This is hardly surprising, as people who have an interest in participating in any athletic endeavour tend to be young and motivated. Reasons to stop are either not thought about or are considered too far in the future to think about.

I have asked a number of former martial-artists why they stopped training. Again, the responses are hardly surprising: serious injury (either via training or occuring elsewhere but bad enough to affect training), age, moving to a seemingly-less-menacing neighbourhood or job which renders concerns about self-defense somewhat misplaced (if not apparently paranoid).

This last ties into the most common answer: loss of interest. Martial arts teachers, whatever their style, have a professional interest in keeping enough students interested, over a sufficiently long term, to keep the business afloat. They may wish to consider their constituency and its interests. Reasons for leaving MA are intimately--if conversely--tied to reasons for beginning, and continuing, to train.

Such is the case with yours-truly. I first got into MA some decades back because I ended up (more by chance than for any other reason) in a number of occupations which included an element of use-of-force. I selected--and then modified to suit my needs--MAs which most closely matched the requirements of those professions. Unlike many here who find enjoyment in the fight game (which is, of course, their perfect right), MA training for me was a matter of necessity (and perhaps a side-effect of my inability to find more suitable employment--for which I blame no one but myself). Necessity dictated training in as realistic (read: alive) a manner as possible due to the enormous variables in terms of the people I might have to deal with on the job.

Trouble is, this removed MA training from the "enjoyable" sphere of my life. As associations go, it was a classic example--it would always remind me, not of fun, but of work. As I am insufficiently talented to be one of those lucky souls whose vocation is the same as their avocation, anything that reminds me of work is not going to seem particularly desirable, even if it's necessary.

A recent serious injury to my right arm left me on the sidelines for a while. Surgery was a consideration until the surgeons read the MRI and found too many decades' accumulation of full-contact-related-impact-damage, grappling-related torsion damage, weight-training and just general age-related wear-and-tear in the general area. They couldn't see how operating was going to be of any lasting benefit, and so left me to rehabilitate my arm as it now was. It's now almost as strong as it was pre-injury, albeit visibly deformed an accompanied by some (manageable, fortunately) shoulder instability.

I looked at this as a golden opportunity to find some better job, to retrain for something else, to find an occupation more productive than throwing violent idiots out of a nightclub. For someone of my age and background, however, there doesn't seem to be anything much out there. Again, I don't blame anybody else for this result--we reap what we sow.

Faced with the choice of going back to moron-tossing and doing nothing, I've found that the old work-ethic mantra I'd lived by for so long, "any job is better than doing nothing" had lost some of its credibility. I'm nearly fifty, will never have a comfy retirement, and can look forward to nothing but more years of getting just enough of a paycheck to last long enough to go to next shift. Combine that with the usual declines associated with impending age, and "any job is better than doing nothing" suddenly seems like a bill of goods I'd bought into for too long without subjecting it to critical thought.

Some episodes of critical thought later, I've decided that I'll go back to the job--but only for a year or so. Then, if I've found nothing better, I'll just take my savings and go places I've never seen but always wanted to. If I find some better job in my travels, good. I'll invite the wife to join me. If not, I'll just keep hitting the road until the money runs out. If I time it right, there will be a nice bottle of single malt, a tall cliff and some sunlit waters to see me off. This isn't about ending life: it's about taking control of it and living it on one's own terms--which, logically, means concluding it on one's own terms...rather than in some hospital stuck full of tubes or on some park-bench hacking one's lungs out.

In any case, as I will soon be an ex-bouncer, I will also very shortly stop training MA. My hobby was always wilderness hiking and that's what I'll do as long as I can. Maybe warm up for a fifty-K day with some pushups, situps and katas in the morning, but no more actual fighting...which, by my definition, means no more martial arts.

That being the case, I'll be off the BSD boards, as I think they are for those who actually train MA. However, it's been an education and I'd like to thank all concerned for providing it. It's always nice to know that nobody's too old to learn new things, as long as they haven't closed their minds. *checks to see if he has anything that remotely passes for a mind*

One must ask, though: will the Universe really come to a crashing halt if martial-arts fakes continue to defraud the gullible?


Vieux Normand

9/01/2009 11:11am,
As a frequent lurker, but none-too-prolific poster, I have read the thoughts and comments of many contributors and in too many cases wished I hadn't bothered. There are, however, those people whose posts are always worth reading, due to their experience, insight, humour, or whatever. In my humble opinion, you fall into this category and I'm sorry that there'll be one fewer of your kind on these forums. Good luck in whatever you do.

9/01/2009 11:14am,
Sadness and understanding.

9/01/2009 11:26am,
Well, you could at least stop by for a tankard of ale sometime.

9/01/2009 11:29am,
Best wishes. Hoping you find what you're looking for.

9/01/2009 11:32am,
Best luck.

You'll be missed, frenchie.

Eddie Hardon
9/01/2009 11:37am,

A nice, thoughtful and thought-provoking Post (to be expected from you, of course) and I enjoy your humour. I still guffaw about "They stavit with their steely knife but they still can't kill the beast".

Sorry to read about your Arm but if it's any consolation (probably not) a chap called Lofty Large was captured on Gloster Hill (Korean War) and after enduring Chinese captivity - with a badly injured arm - he was eventually released. After his own rehab, he avoided medical discharge and passed SAS Selection and became something of a legend. His books "One Man's SAS" and "One Man's Korea" articulate this better than I can.

By coincidence, I was watching a feature about campervans (and RVs) and it reminded me of a chap (he might have been German) who had a very small campervan and whom I saw drive off one morning when I was in Syria. I think. I have a memory that it was somewhere near Krak de Chevaliers. As I watched him drive away, I thought I could empathise...but may be not. I was only thinking it, he was doing it. Looking back I rather envy him (and I am not given to envy).

[Oddly those 2 paragraphs seem to have transposed - no matter].

Having passed the half-Century, I continue the path but nearly stopped owing to my inability to get anyone to train 3rd Dan and yet I was always helping others who seemed to take if for granted even though I had to travel to gain the knowledge and paid in Time, Money and Pain. Still, it remains interesting.

Not quite the same as having to stand on the door and inform the patrons that they might consider coming back tomorrow night/next week. That their anti-social behaviour/inability to hold their Drink/lack of sobriety/Disturbed Psychosis is not acceptable - and would they mind putting down that broken bottle-neck and you've dropped your knife.

The Cook Islands are enjoyable - Rarotonga is probably a bit different to when I was there some 17 years ago, as is Aitutaki but I'm sure NZ is still beautiful.

Enjoy yourself whatever you do and you'll certainly be missed from these boards.

Best of Luck.

9/01/2009 12:08pm,
I think I started posting in earnest around the same time you joined Vieux and your posts were always a damn good read. Your articles were well written, funny and insightful, your article on Zen being my personal favourite...!

It won't be the same round here without you mate...

Take it easy!

Oh, and the Lake District in England has some damn fine hill walking, I urge you to check it out!

9/01/2009 12:47pm,
huh...well, ****!

Good luck, happy travels for as long as they last.

9/01/2009 1:01pm,
There are always going to be changes, it is the only consistent thing in life. IF you must stop training then do so, but guys like Roy Harris have shown that JuJitsu can be for us guys pushing 50.

Hard sparring might be finished, uber competition may be over, but you are not dead yet! Then again if it is time to move on enjoy the change and of course, no regrets.

Good luck.

9/01/2009 1:27pm,
That's so incredibly sad...leaving MA because you can't fight or train at a high level anymore doesn't dilute your usefullness to Martial Artists.

I like reading your posts - you seem a bright, mature, witty, and thoughtful voice in a place where that is EXACTLY what is needed. I understand that an injury and diagnosis of the nature you describe can be disheartening, but don't (please) let it stop you from doing what you love and loving your work.

I can appreciate your desire to head off into the sunset - I say take a month to clear your head and hopefully you'll miss Martial Arts, and the bullies. When you return, bring your charm and wisdom back and continue to contribute. Be the counterpoint to the brash bullies - you represent the vieux generation very well.

Besides, I'm not too far behind you in age, and I just refuse to think that I'll have to cease pursuit of my lifelong passions just because the arbitrary age of 50 lurks.

Or you could open a krav maga school.

9/01/2009 2:21pm,
'cide seems like it's dedicated to being mean to people we mostly like about things other than MA. So I hope we'll still see you there.

9/01/2009 5:06pm,
You are, and always will be, one of my favorite posters. I know you live across the pond but should you ever find yourself in New England look me up.

Rene "Zendokan" Gysenbergs
9/01/2009 6:03pm,
Vieux, mon ami,

C’est avec douleur dans mon cœur que j’ai lis tes mots, mais je te comprends.
J’espair que ton voyage t’enment vers Belgique un jour. (Pour une bière).

Avec sincères salutation

9/01/2009 7:05pm,
Dude, just take up Firearms. That's the most martial of Martial Arts anyway.

Kid Miracleman
9/01/2009 7:14pm,
What Phrost said. I'd much rather see you spend some time at the firing range than drunkenly chucking yourself off a sun-crested mesa.

Anyhoo, take luck!