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When It's Time To Stop
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?
Last edited by Vieux Normand; 9/01/2009 11:27am at .