Providing those in the second phase of life and beyond with the tools to re-find themselves: mind, body and spirit. For those seeking longevity, who strive to be the best version of themselves, living life to the full. Advice, guidance, reflections, insightful interviews. Weaponry: Martial Arts, Mindfulness, Reiki and the ancient wisdom. If I can, you can! Just for today, let’s both try to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
Sometimes you have to accept defeat. It was a simple choice in the end, worsen my snapping hip or walk away from Tae Kwon Do, which, because of the mechanics of what the martial arts was asking of my body, was sadly exacerbating the condition. No pain. I decided to stop before we reached that particular juncture. The hip is hardly snapping at all now, thanks to a brilliant sports physiotherapist and well – that elusive black belt was never reached. I spent three years on red belt. I showed tenacity and as the Tae Kwon Do Mantra says ‘indomitable spirit’. It was not meant to be. The longer I took – the more it eluded me. Something was pulling the black belt further away. Tae Kwon Do, to be very clear is a great martial art, but it in the end it is the preserve of the young(er).
I am not the most accomplished or heralded martial artist you will meet. I am not a ‘master’ in any martial art – not yet anyway. I AM on the journey. Maybe as Taoism puts it, I am on the pathless path. On that alone, I can share with you and we can hopefully grow together. But I have been training long and hard and it has made a difference. THAT is what I want you to experience too.
So I said my tearful goodbyes to Tae Kwon Do and started White Crane Kung Fu and Tai Chi, which was continuously interrupted by first my father’s death and then one of my sons falling seriously ill. All these things are in the past now, thankfully.
While I decided I could not continue with Fuijuan White Crane, it was not for want of a truly brilliant teacher and advocate. I was thinking long-term and the need for an accessible club. I have just started learning Wing Chun. And so – without realising it, or maybe realising it a little, because of my research – I have crossed the Rubicon from a hard martial art, based on kicking and overpowering – to two inter-related southern Chinese martial arts, more closely connected with breathing, meditation, getting low, being grounded and working on using softness and excellent technique, rather than the power in your punch. This, I hope is the path to longevity, with many masters in their nineties and beyond. From too old for the class – perhaps I am now too young – or maybe I have regained some time – and no longer lost it! The key thing is to train hard.
My son, back in 2019 became UK Tae Kwon Do colour belt champion in sparring. Guess who his trainer was on the day?
I am of course slow, but knew his strengths and what he had to do. So yes, I will bask in the reflected glory – even though my champion days are well – perhaps a thing of the past?
If I can coach my son to glory, then maybe I am able to help you to more moderate but no less honourable targets, right? Hopefully, right.
My Mindfulness Journey.
I have attended a series of yoga courses over several years at the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Putney, south London. I am an intermediate level Yoga practitioner. These courses entailed a lot of abdominal breathing and other Mindfulness-related exercises.
I perform the eight brocades Chi Kung patterns daily every morning, helping me to clear my head for the day. I also use the Insight Timer on my phone daily and either listen to meditation music or have a ten-minute guided meditation, most commonly a Yoga Sutra, so body scanning, or a Chakra balancing guided meditation.
I have been practising Chikung and Tai Chi for more than ten years and studied Tai Chi for many years at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre.
I also regularly conduct Pranayama breathing exercises, informing my Reiki practice and conduct Reiki on myself for at least five minutes per day.
I also attend the Pantera Tae Kwon Do club in London two-three times a week, which also entails ‘living in the moment’ and the application of various aspects of Mindfulness, being a mind-body-spirit activity and not a sport as commonly perceived in the West. I have been practicing TKD for more than ten years.
I run a weekly Mindfulness group for university staff and another for students and have been doing so for several years.
The weapons I want to help you wield –and I am still learning myself – are the worlds of Yoga and the soft and hard martial arts. They have made me strong.
Too many of you decide as you leave forty behind and rush to fifty and beyond that it is time to give up on your body or worse your mind, but to collapse into a long, painful death. Wrong.
Your body is still capable of amazing power and strength and that in turn will feed your mind and soul to do likewise. It will take you longer, you will suffer more – but then the prize is greater and the victory so much sweeter. You are no longer 21. Reconfigure how you see all that.