View Full Version : Aikido at Age 59

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Nelson M. Canario
10-22-2008, 08:27 AM
Hello everyone, my name is Nelson. I started training karate in Venezuela when I turned 16, and did it for a few years. Once I became aware that I could seriously harm or kill another man with one punch, I quit. Since then I have been wanting to practice Aikido. I wanted to have another option than to kill another guy. I just wanted to be able to put him down without hurting him too much or not at all. On 09/11/2007, I went to the local Subway shop to get a sub on a Saturday afternoon and noticed that in the dojo next door there were two men dressed in white top and black pants. I saw how one of them "touched" the other one who ended up on the floor. I stopped on my tracks and kept looking. They did it again. At this time I decided to check it out and went to the door which was locked, but immediately one of them opened it. I asked: "Is this Aikido?" Yes, he responded. My second question was: "Do you do any type of kicking?" No, no kicking, he said. I though "Oh, good". Since I have bad knees from my karate days, I didn't want to start kicking again. I asked if I could watch one class. The next week I went to the dojo to observed the class and signed up. It has been a year and I wear a green belt. I train two days a week and practice at home almost daily. I love it. My only concern about Aikido is that I'm now 59 and don't have the same energy I had during my teen years. Sometimes I wonder: "Why am I doing this?" I respond to myself saying: "As I get older I need to keep moving to stay in decent shape and better health". This keeps me going. I'm also very determined and competitive; this helps too.
I would appreciate any uplifting comments from others who have experienced the same type of strugels regarding their Aikido practice.

Chuck Clark
10-22-2008, 09:20 AM
Nelson, Welcome to aiki-web. As I've told you before, I'll soon be 62 and definitely had a "different" energy when I was a teenager in this practice (and life). I now have "different " energy at my command. I suspect that you can also learn this. Keep up the good work and be aware of your body/mind/spirit.

Janet Rosen
10-22-2008, 09:26 AM
I started as an out of shape 41 yr old and am now a somewhat disabled/hurting 53 yr old.
For me the two keys are: 1. finding a dojo that supports you in training safely to the best of your ability, whatever that is and however it may fluctuate day to day and 2. keeping a positive focus, listening to your body when it tells you to slow down a bit, but also to your spirit when it says to go just a little further.

10-22-2008, 09:53 AM
All though, I'm not as mature as some other folks here, I believe the best thing you can do is get your butt off the couch and go exercise/socialize within your limits. Pay attention to your body and get to know the difference between "good" pain and "bad" pain and get to know your limits. Good pain would be the sort of burn you get in your muscles from a good work out. Bad pain would be of the sort caused by injury such as a sprained ankle.

Also, don't be afraid to take it slow, and don't be afraid to ask your partner to take it easy. Only you know your body and what's happening in it.

By the way, Janet, I'm glad to have read that you found a place to train that accommodates you. I'm not really sure how to express my opinion on that matter succinctly, but generally, I favor an honest, positive, and accepting approach to teaching/learning.

By the way Nelson, Ikeda Sensei will be in Orlando November 14-16, you should try and make it up there. Not sure what dojo your affiliated with, perhaps our paths will cross at some point.

Janet Rosen
10-22-2008, 10:48 AM
Thank you, John.
I agree about distinguishing the "good" (or as I call it, benign" pain) and "bad" pain. For me, training in aikido, esp things like learning to breath and relax into nikkyo, really helped me learn to distinguish the two and gave valuable tools for coping with pain.

Nafis Zahir
10-22-2008, 01:03 PM
I just turned 45 this past summer and I must say that I am in pretty good shape. I can hang with the young guys in my dojo who are 25 and 27 years old. I would often watch the older Shihans who I knew were in their late 60's and wonder how they seemed to be moving in slow motion against uke who were in their 30's. Besides being in shape from training, I came to realize that you have to relax (which makes it so much easier on your body) and have complete control over your movements. Timing is everything. I believe that the older you get, the more subtle your movements become. I have very good energy right now, but I must admit that I have worked out with a few people older than me that really took me to task. So just keep training and be good to your body.

10-22-2008, 01:30 PM
My aches and pains seem to disappear as soon as I step on the mat. Weird huh.:)

Andrew S
10-22-2008, 02:28 PM
One of my sempai started Aikido at 64.

10-22-2008, 02:31 PM
Started when I was 39. Am now 53. Had to leave aikido for about a year and am just getting back to it. One interesting thing I noticed. I NEVER had lower back problems while practicing. I attribute it to all that rolling shaking the spine up and keeping it loose as well as the benefit for the front core muscles. A couple of months after quitting, even though I still did other exercise, both cardio and weights, I started getting stiff in the mornings.

Call it chiro-aikido.

good luck. Take it slower and don't try to do as much of what the younger folks do. Vinney Testaverdae when playing his one year last year for the Carolina Panthers put it in focus. when you are in your 40's (or 50's) you just can't take the constant pounding like you can when you are in your twenties (for us its many breakfalls....!) Take some, but listen to your body especially the day after....!

Good luck

Jonathan Guzzo
10-22-2008, 04:03 PM

I had exactly that same experience. I had always had lower back pain--sometimes just brutal, and on a daily basis. I've been training for around five years now, and have not had any troubles with my lower back that are not attributable to, say, a long day backpacking.

We have a 67 year old sandan at our dojo who is has some knee issues and less energy than the young ones. But his aikido is whispery quiet, soft and devastating. He has adapted it to his older-guy body.

Jorge Garcia
10-23-2008, 06:14 AM
I started as an overweight out of shape 38 year old. I am now 52. I am in the best shape of my life. I try to do everything the younger people do and I usually am the only one left standing at the end of the advanced class (which is an hour at full speed).

While many aren't like me at 52, some are and a few can be. Don't be too quick to limit yourself.

Best wishes,

10-23-2008, 10:08 AM
Started at 44.
58 the end of the month.
Let me show you how to tie your belt and bow in.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
10-23-2008, 11:08 AM
I'm only almost 47, but let me contribute with another piece of advice: don't forget balance and flexibility. Those are two things that we lose as we age, and we need to work specifically to improve them. Try to do some stretching exercises as least three times a week. After years of trial and errors, I have found that I need to do some stretching exercises every day, but that I should not do some others - like splitting, frontal and lateral - more than three times a week. Everybody is different, and maybe you could seek advice from a professional trainer or a chiropractor to make sure that your will not hurt yourself.
Balance is easier - and faster. Just practice everyday standing on one foot with your eyes closed. Make sure to align your spine with your supporting leg, and to stretch it straight up like someone was pulling your hair. Then repeat with on the other foot. This simple exercise can help you regain your balance when you slip in your bathtub for example.
Old age is not a calamity, it can be fought. Go for it!

10-24-2008, 05:09 AM
Old age is not a calamity, it can be fought.
LOL, this is Aikido, enter and blend with it. LOL

Marie Noelle Fequiere
10-24-2008, 12:09 PM
LOL, this is Aikido, enter and blend with it. LOL

Arigato Seiser Sensei, you are right. my Karate background still haunts me, and I'm still having trouble blending with something that hurts me. So let me rephrase this: Old age is only a big ugly rock standing in your way. Flow around it.
Give me a few more years of practice before I can reach your wisdom and start blending.

Mark Uttech
10-25-2008, 09:58 AM
Onegaishimasu. Older age need not be 'fought'. My own intuition, at age 55 and after 24 years of aikido, tells me to 'study the ground'. Not just grappling, not that type of thing; but to look at two things: the kihon waza and the practicing shihans. Therein lies the treasure. It reminds me of a story where a man heard there was a jewel buried in a certain field. He put his savings on the line and bought the field.

In gassho,


Diane Stevenson
10-28-2008, 11:08 AM
I am humbled and encouraged. Thankyou all.

11-02-2008, 01:09 PM
I apologize for my boldness. Posting a reply while I have yet to set foot on a tatami. I am 53 myself and have just registered in a club in my area. Next week is the big start and I am looking forward to it. I am expecting a lot from it and a lot from myself too. Like they say, in Aikido you don't fight an opponent, you fight yourself. I am ready for it. Like it was advised, I will just take it slow. Better late than never.

11-12-2008, 01:25 PM
Like Reginald I have not stepped foot on the tatami yet, but I am eagerly awaiting Friday to do so at Soseki Dojo here in Germany.

I am 30 and have a few physical issues that limit me from high-impact activities. I am looking forward to strengthening myself while moving with and around the old thoughts that you had to start young in martial arts to make it worthwhile.

12-03-2008, 01:40 AM
I don't think that there is an age limit for learning Aikido as long as the body permits.

12-03-2008, 06:12 PM
Hey Nelson, you're as young as you feel, so here's to doing what feels good( Tampai!). Btw, I's born right there in Manattee Memorial and raised right there, so if ya know any Boyettes, say howdy, that's family.

Ahmad Ade
12-30-2008, 04:48 PM
Boy, you guys really make me feel ok about starting at 47 years old:D

01-10-2009, 05:19 AM
This thread is so inspiring. I'm still in my early 30s and want to do this for as long as I can. I don't know how old my sensei is but I think he's in his mid 40s and he's in great shape.

Because I have a heavy build, I listen very carefully to my body, during and after exercises. I also have the same thing with lower back pain. When I stop training, it comes back!

All the best

01-12-2009, 07:33 AM
I'm now 59 and don't have the same energy I had during my teen years. Sometimes I wonder: "Why am I doing this?" I respond to myself saying: "As I get older I need to keep moving to stay in decent shape and better health". This keeps me going. I'm also very determined and competitive; this helps too.
I would appreciate any uplifting comments from others who have experienced the same type of strugels regarding their Aikido practice.

I can ask myself the same question really - albeit Im still in my 30s.
The point you bring up is legit...who do you think your going to fight?
As you get older the reality as we begin to mellow out, is that situations which would have brought a fight before - well - they stop before it happens. (Not saying this as a general rule, but its a part of maturity it seems.0

For me its helping me to do something 'new' and to challenge me.
Its helping me get in tune with my body - which is beneficial for me at any age. My coordination between upper and lower body is improving...the very act of learning something new actually helps out in other areas of life that seem like they are not related.

In short...its experience.
Experience in anything gives you more insight and perspective into life as a whole. There is so much I have taken away on a personal, philosophical level - my time learning Aikido in a country where I cannot speak the language... - Past asking for food and the toilet. ;)

When your young, its about proving your place on the ranks...whether one puts on the 'humble' suite (false humility) or the outright egoic, "Im going to kick your butt" suit.

As mentioned, we mature and realize that someone out there will always beat someone else...it goes on forever and into infinity. ;)
There must be another way? How do you go about to create perpetual harmony? In this sense, Aikido can be used for that - but, as hard as it may sound, so can Thai boxing. (though as our joints feel like giving out, it may not be a practical path.)

The path is the inward path...Eckhart Tolle has a great section on this at the end of his book A new earth.

Your almost 60...here is the question. Do you want to do it?
Then go for it...do you know why your doing it? Great opportunity for inner refection, introspection, what-not. ;)

Enjoy, and Peace


Congrats on your green belt, you must be a fast learner!

Just realized this is an older post - and Nelson only posted once.
Hope things are going good for you. :)

Phil Van Treese
04-17-2009, 02:40 PM
I am 63 and I love getting on the mat, especially when the "young bucks" come at me. Aikido keeps me young, as well as judo. Aikido needs to be enjoyed so forget about the age. You'll never be old as long as your mind is young and it stays young as long as you keep learning. Welcome to the mat!!

04-17-2009, 04:42 PM
Mr. Canario
It depends on how you train. I am 53 and have never been more capable than I am now. I think proper training, and what to train is more important at our age. There is no reason you have to get weaker as you age. In fact the opposite should be happening if you are training aiki. You just need to find people who- train - aiki.
Good luck in your training.

Walter Martindale
04-17-2009, 11:14 PM
Hi Nelson,
Adding to the chorus: Started at 40, presently 55.
Tried wrestling in last year of high school and for almost a year afterwards. Took up judo at 18, stayed with it til 26. During the judo years, messed up ankle - still tender. Nearly broken neck x2. 2x concussions. chronic bruising on the shins, separated elbow, shoulder, loose wrist, cauliflower ear, right knee missing an ACL and having a very loose MCL. Sutures in the scalp. hyper mobile right Sacro-iliac joint, hypo mobile left SI joint.
That's what I remember...
Took up rowing, and after a few years the lower back said "bye-bye", so I coached rowing. When coaching one year tried Aikido. Since then, instead of going to physiotherapy for my back/hip/SI joint, I practice Aikido - instead of not being able to walk and being essentially a stiff, immobile block, I'm able to take ukemi, (not as well as I could at 40) practice, and so on, and am hoping to survive training for nidan in June.

Try it - everyone will acknowledge that you're not 20 any more. Let people know you're a bit sore in various places. Anyone who's worth practicing with will also recognise that you're new just by the way you move, and SHOULD moderate their intensity and speed to something you can handle - in one of my previous dojo, the rule was that if a "lower rank" threw a "higher rank" really hard, it was essentially saying to the "higher rank" that I think I can take being thrown harder and faster, so let's go. If you're not feeling really strong, fast, confident, or aggressive, be slow in your attacking, and relatively slow in your application of technique... SHOULD go OK.

Hope you try
Hope you like it.

Marc Abrams
04-18-2009, 09:08 AM
One of my new students is 70 years old! You are never too old until the day they are throwing dirt on top!

Marc Abrams

04-30-2009, 11:14 AM
Hello. I myself am young (almost 25) but my husband is 58 at the moment. He absolutely loves aikido. He has trouble with a few things, but has found that through aikido he has started to gain muscle and has begun to stretch out his muscles. If you have bad knees, you might want to inform your sensei. He might allow you to do standing techniques when your knees are bothering you instead of sitting. Most senseis are willing to work with your ailments and can adapt things to suit you. I am betting that you will find that some of your ailments will improve or go away all together if given enough time. Good luck!

Ewan Wilson
05-03-2009, 06:08 PM
some interesting comments here. I'm but a young buck at 28 but intend to continue until life dictates otherwise. we have a couple of more experienced practioners whose technique beggars belief and despite my youthful energy, I am in awe of their approach and execution. I believe a combination of experience and good attitude are key to becoming one who understands the route to er, ah, dunno, being good? how do you you describe it? all I know is I want to be as good and wise as my sensei eventually and it's not about gaining respect, more about emulating the patient and forgiving members of clubs who have given me so much as a novice. I'm still a baby but less so than a while ago and as that changes, I'd love to think that someone else down the line would be happy that I was there to help them as many others have helped me. ETC

Linda Eskin
06-19-2009, 01:25 AM
I started at 46, and now I'm... oh, gosh... well OK, 46. :p

This discussion reminds me of a wonderful little story I heard ages ago. It's registration day at college. There's a line of new students, mostly kids fresh out of high school, waiting to sign up for their first classes. But in the line there's one old guy. The kid next to him strikes up a conversation, and learns that the old guy is 80, and says "Forgive me for saying so sir, but by the time you graduate in 4 years you'll be 84." To which the old guy replies "Son, in 4 years I'll be 84 in any case."

If your heart still goes pitter-patter at the memory of first watching those men, when you happened upon the dojo, and you're still happy to give it your best, go for it. Sure, there are risks in training, but there are risks in not-training, too. Get out there and show those youngsters what they have to look forward to. ;)


06-19-2009, 02:53 AM
Hi well i started aikido at 49 a year and a half ago,its great a little stiff but im becoming soft and loose.best thing ive done [when are we to old] there is no awnser.

06-19-2009, 03:03 AM
ive been training 18 months and i was 49,[when are you to old] there is no answer, was stiff at first but now the young ones throw me hehe.i love it as an art just hope keep my body in shape till grim reaper comes along.:eek:

Eva Antonia
06-19-2009, 06:34 AM

in our dojo we have a couple - grandfather and granddaughter -, who started together some months ago. Granddaughter is 14, grandfather maybe 65.

The guy was terribly stiff and as unbalanced as possible in the beginning, but so are many young people, too. Now, still a white belt, he starts doing nice smooth rolls, makes first attempts at tobu ukemi, gets a better equilibrium when doing tai sabaki...the same development as for every newcomer. I don't have the impression he takes more time than others to learn, and I think the only inconvenient of starting so late is having less time left to do aikido...

But in any case I think it's great to overcome all these prejugees that old people learn slower, cannot adapt easily, cannot compete with the young ones etc. and have a living example that also a grandfather can do swift rolls and dynamic exercice.

Best regards,