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Advice for Younger To-Shin Do Students

I was asked what advice I have for younger martial artists. I’d have to reply:

Take it easy on yourself! Be smart. In my 20s there was a kind of prestige implied in what we called “hard training”. We actually damaged nerve plexuses and joint tissues by hitting and twisting body targets too many times with too much force. That is not bold brave “hard training”. That is crazy foolish “reckless training”.

But there is a kind of egotism that takes over. We think we are so cool and tough. We get the opportunity to brag about our bruises and damaged elbows and shoulders. We think that maybe it implies we are thereby guaranteed to be hard to handle in a fight. How dangerous and stupid that thinking is in the long run.

Younger students can train unsafely and damage themselves. Then they say, “That’s OK. I heal quickly.” But they are not healing. They are only recovering. Later in life all that unhealed damage adds up. Pay attention now. Choose true healing.

In our Western culture, growing old seems to be regarded as a terrifying thing. Aging people are expected to hang on to the image of youthfulness by getting new faces, new teeth, new hair, new romances. This fear of aging is very different from what I experienced in dojos in Japan. Old and treacherous is regarded as scarier than young and brash. So I do not mind being a white bearded figure. I get to look like Obiwan or Gandalf! Hey, growing old is not all that bad.

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