Can anyone do Martial Arts?

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can anyone do martial artsCan anyone do Martial Arts? As I await my second spinal operation, it’s a question I have been pondering myself recently.

My back problems are not due to martial arts per se, but more due to a lifestyle of snowboarding, BMXing and martial arts collectively contributing to the problem over the course of 20 years. My thoughts are now focussed on finding a martial art that will help my back and allow me to continue with my martial arts journey. I now have to accept that there are many things I can no longer do, regardless of how much I want to.

When a family comes into the shop to buy training kit for their kids and I ask the parents if they do any martial arts, I often hear, “Oh no, I’m too old for all that now, it’s a young man’s game that is.”

Thoughts such as the concept of being too old or too injured stop a lot of people from doing something they love and I think that’s a shame. If you simply change the goalposts or expectations. I think everyone could find something within the plethora of martial arts on offer.

Personally, I’ll never jump, run, twist or do anything with impact again and someone with bad knees may be the same. But I just need to have some time away, accept what I can’t do and start thinking about a new journey and what that might look like.

Some time ago, Matthew Ahmet, one of the London Shaolin Kung Fu instructors, did an article in one of the martial arts magazines where he talked about breaking his leg during a performance. He explored all aspects of his training and found parts of the system he could still practice with his leg in plaster. I like this philosophy: Find the things you can do rather than dwelling on the things you can’t.

During a visit to the Shaolin Temple in China a few months back I attempted to apply the same philosophy to my own training where I found one of the few soft forms taught in Shaolin and asked to be taught that. I worked through it, had lots of breaks in-between and took it pretty easy. I soaked up the atmosphere of the place and enjoyed the time there with friends and the monks and, of course, spent some more time lying down resting. It was amazing to be there and it felt like I didn’t miss out on anything. What I was working on was something more akin to what Chen Family village or Wudang mountain would offer, albeit an easier version. Even so, I came away with something I could work on and develop until my next trip back. Having that experience inspires me to want to get back into regular training and work on the forms and the system…after the next surgery of course.

Can anyone do martial arts?

Yes of course, but be prepared to adapt your original goals, select carefully and know your limits. Once you find a club that meets your specific needs, you’ll never look back.

For further information on martial arts clubs in Bristol, check out the club directory here or pop in the shop for a chat about what might suit your needs.