I played team sports growing up, all the way through high school. I played baseball so much I can’t stand to even watch a game now. However, it was the individual sports and things I loved the most. Since I was around twelve I have loved bodybuilding and martial arts.
Martial arts was first and I would check out every book the local library had repeatedly, so I could learn in our basement. There was no internet, home computers, or even many schools around back then.
My older brother took classes for a while and stopped, and I would put on his uniform and practice in the basement or back yard, doing punches and kicks over and over.
They say you can’t learn from a book or video, but what I learned back then was spot on when I began serious study in Korea years later, and it enabled me to advance quicker.
I trained on and off in our basement from 1978 until I went into the Army in 1984. I focused mostly on Karate and boxing, teaching myself how to jump rope and hit a speed bag, following everything Sugar Ray Leonard did from his Olympic win through his pro career.
While I was scouring the library for martial arts books, I came across the book Pumping Iron by Charles Gaines and George Butler. It would later be made into a movie, but when I saw it and started to flip through the pages, I was amazed!
I always read comic books as a kid and the Charles Atlas ads were always in there somewhere, but while he was in good shape, he never looked like Superman, Batman, or the Hulk.
This is where I learned who Arnold Schwarzenneger was and all of the classic bodybuilders of that time. I couldn’t believe that there were living, breathing, men that were built like superheroes. I checked that book multiple times and read it over and over.
My Dad bought us a used weight set and bench and I began working out in the basement, adding bodybuilding books to my trips to the library as well.
While I fell in love with both martial arts and bodybuilding, and have been a fan to this day, martial arts has ALWAYS been my priority. Earning black belts in multiple arts, and teaching students both while in the military and as a civilian.
After learning and teaching martial arts for over 35 years, and being in my fifties, I no longer have the passion I once did. I still love traditional martial arts, but now in my fifties, they are no longer the priority in my life.
Getting older, with the metabolism slowing down, a few injuries and surgeries that limit my activity, and looking toward the future, my health and fitness have moved front and center as priority number one.
Bodybuilding is now the priority after all of these years, but not today’s freaky bodybuilding, I still love the old-school bodybuilder look. My training is all natural and focused on gaining (regaining) muscle and losing bodyfat.
I don’t focus on the scale, but I would like to get down to 195 – 200 pounds to take the pressure off of my knees and hopefully improve my mobility. As long as I am losing inches and I see differences in the mirror and in photos, then I am making progress.
I am currently doing my bodybuilding workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in my garage, using dumbbells and resistance bands. I work back and biceps on Monday, Chest, and Triceps on Wednesdays, and Shoulders and Legs on Fridays.
My martial arts training is done on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it is part of my fitness routine. I train Tai Chi for health and longevity and perform Karate kata and techniques, striving to make the art my own, according to my abilities now in my fifties.
Saturdays are active rest days, where I will walk, go to a park, stretch, do yoga, or some other activity. Sundays are total rest days.
Rather than focusing on learning more martial arts, I am focused on training what I have learned over the years, studying the history, and enjoying martial arts again after always being in the instructor role for so long.
No matter what activity you may be into, eventually, things will change as we get older. No one beats the clock forever, and we will have to adjust based on our abilities, injuries, limitations, and other things that pop up as we age.
It’s not easy to do either, because we start to identify ourselves by the things we do, whether it is a sport or our careers, etc. I have been in the martial arts instructor mode for over thirty years and I was good at what I did, and it became a huge part of who I am, and how identified myself.
Now, after injuries and surgeries, I can no longer do what I did and I began losing the passion for it as I kept trying to force my body to do things I once did. I tried and failed for over a year until I finally came to terms with the fact and decided to put my black belts on the shelf.
It doesn’t mean we stop loving it, or even practicing it, it just stops being such a large part of our lives, so we can allow new activities and things in our lives and return to being students again. It breathes new life into us and gives us other mountains to conquer.
So I have gone from one of my passions, martial arts, to another, bodybuilding, and to be honest, I should have done it sooner!