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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    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?


    Vieux Normand
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    Last edited by Vieux Normand; 9/01/2009 11:27am at .

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    West Midlands, England
    boxing noob
    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.

  3. #3
    1point2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    BJJ blue, judo ikkyu
    Sadness and understanding.
    What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. -Xenophon's Socrates

  4. #4
    crappler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Well, you could at least stop by for a tankard of ale sometime.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2003
    Best wishes. Hoping you find what you're looking for.

  6. #6
    DCS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Best luck.

    You'll be missed, frenchie.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Trad Ju Jitsu

    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.

  8. #8
    JingMerchant!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North Blighty.
    Judo, baby! Yeah!
    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!
    "So, yeah, Zen teachers may well insult you, work you to the bone, hit you with sticks, shout verbal abuse at you, and punch the **** out of you.
    And when the ****'s been punched out of you, you might just find that you're far better-off without it." - Vieux Normand

    "So in short, BJJ wins again. BJJ, and chainmail." - TheMightyMcClaw

    "On bullshido, your opinions are not sacred, neither are your feelings." - Scrapper

    "You entered the lions' den. Don't bitch if you get eaten." - danniboi07

    "Needless to say, it's much easier to clear a bunch of drunk kids out of your house when you're yelling GTFO and carrying a samurai sword." - DerAuslander

    "Eventually, I realized it doesn't matter what art you train, what matters is the method in which you train. Training in an alive manner, under skilled and qualified instruction, is the single most important aspect of gaining martial skill. All else is window dressing." - JNP : Saying it how it is!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Memphis, TN
    Muay Thai
    huh...well, ****!

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

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Kickboxing / MMA
    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.

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