I really recognise what Dennis Hooker is talking about. I will turn 51 in a few months. Although I've only trained 12 years of Aikido, I began Kyukushinkai when I was 16 and switched to Chuen Shu Kwan for a further 8 years then stopped until I was 38. If I try to train now as I did I simply wont survive. A combination of extra weight, old injuries and loner recovery times have convinced me to train differently. This is sometimes a problem when I want to keep up with "the young lions" and am forced to admit that I cannot. However this is mainly in the athletics of our art and rarely in its martial application. There, on the contrary, I feel my movement is more effective, more powerful and what I lack in speed I can make up for in efficiency. I think as we age we should begin to train differently, take less hard falls, try not to exhaust ourselves in the name of building spirit, practise very regularly but not too long, and above all,IMHO, try to stay flexible.
I have also trained in Fukuoka with Suganuma Sensei and my experience was exactly the same as Russ'. Suganuma Sensei emphasizes training according to your capacity, and I know he supplements his training with yoga which is very beneficial. We often trained twice a day for an hour and a quarter which worked wonders for my condition and flexibilty, whereas once a day for three just leads to injuries.
As for the respect of others, again I have to say that this is western mindset related. Too many of our younger brothers and sisters on the mat (especially the brothers!) have an excess of energy (just jealous) and would sometimes rather go at it with each other, which is fine, but not at the cost of dismissing what it takes for the 50, 60, and 70 year olds to still come on the mat week after week and actually train.
One final point.my Chinese Boxing teacher insisted that unless we use our body and mind correctly we would be ruined in later life, and what then would be the value of all our training? Yes it's true we would have a strong spirit, but why not also be in the best condition possible for your age as well. Having seen Shaolin Boxers at the age of 70 I think they know a thing or two that some Budokas have never learned concerning energy and self healing and that is my concern for the next 10 years of traing.
with respect, Alec Corper