In our open mat practice I still randori and train with the young and strong adults. The only thing is that my rules are that they can’t throw me. We can only move and do grip fighting. If I were to go all out with them I would have torn off body parts all over the tatami. It can be a bit discouraging, knowing that from here on out it only gets worse.
Last week I met with a special mentor/friend who has been by my side for nearly 30 years. Other than my mother, she is the only one who will call me “stupid.” That’s an endearing term which means that she loves me and wants the best for me.
I once asked her from her experience what age she feels was the best in terms of convergence in experience, wisdom, and influence. What she said surprised me. She feels that her best years were her mid 60’s and now in her 70’s. It’s interesting that my 102 year old judo coach at San Jose State told me you are just getting started when you enter your 50’s.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I am getting too old. The first half of my life I was feeling too young and now I’m feeling too old.
Over the past two weeks my mentor remarked to me on two separate conversations that she wished she was 60 years old again. What, 60 years old? Why didn’t she say 30, 40 or even 50 years old? Of course by 60 years old your body is starting to fall apart. You start to feel your age and long for the days when you were in your 20’s.
However, there is a clear advantage with age. It is a time where you harness the experience, wisdom, temperance, and character that you lacked as a younger person. It’s at this time that you reap the years of sowing and investing and enjoy the fruit of your hard work.
My body does not have the strength and speed it once had. I can no longer do a double drop knee seoi nage deep between my opponents legs or even think to attempt to do a tobi juji gatame (flying cross armlock), but my best years are yet to come. After all, my mentors and senseis lived it themselves.