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You're Never Too Old to Be a Warrior

Having just turned 24 a little over a month ago, I am, by most people’s standards, still very

young. With the average life expectancy of a human now being 78.6 years old, I technically still

have about two thirds of my life left to live.

Speaking from a karate standpoint on the other hand, I feel as though my age isn’t doing me any


During the first six months to a year of being at RMAI, I was often the oldest beginner belt in the

room while there were several kids who, despite being younger than me by more than half my

age, were still considered my seniors in terms of rank.

Though I try not to compare myself to others, which is a constant issue I have, not only in karate

but in all aspects of life, I often look at some of these “Karate Kids” and find myself a little

envious of them. I didn’t start doing karate until after I had graduated college while a lot of the

younger advanced belts started taking classes before they even started kindergarten.

For a lot of these kids who’ve been training for most of their lives, there are still relatively no

boundaries as to what they could accomplish; whether that’s winning grand championships in

tournaments, attending countless seminars around the country, or even becoming a Master

instructor. Looking at myself, 24 and a purple belt, reaching a Master’s rank might not ever be in

my reach; which I will admit can be a little disheartening at times.

That being said, for those like myself who sometimes lack confidence in their own potential,

Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura, one of the original karate masters of Okinawa, has some words of

wisdom when it comes to situations like these.

“To all those whose progress remains hampered by ego-related distractions, let humility–the

spiritual cornerstone upon which karate rests–serve to remind one to place virtue before vice,

values before vanity and principles before personalities.”

In other words, while the flashy aspects of karate such as the tournaments and trophies are not

completely without value, they are not the ultimate goal of one’s martial arts training. Rather it’s

the values and virtues, or the philosophy and mental understanding of martial arts that is of more


The ego is often what stands in the way of us reaching our true potential because we’re too

focused on what others think, or more likely our perception of what others think of us, when we

ought to be using all of that mental and physical energy on our own personal training.

Those here at Revolution Martial Arts Institute know, or should know, that we follow a particular

student creed that our training is to be modeled after:

1. I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that would reduce my

mental growth and physical health.

2. I will develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.

3. I will use common sense before self-defense and never be abusive or offensive.

4. We are a Black Belt school, we are motivated, we are dedicated, we are on a quest to be

our best.

While there were many things that were said in this creed, nowhere does it say that your front

kicks have to touch the ceiling, or you have to place at every tournament you go to, or you’re too

old to be a warrior.

Not to get political, but martial arts knows no boundaries such as gender, race, or age. In my

opinion, the only thing that martial arts discriminates against is weakness. Weakness not in terms

of physical strength, but weakness in terms of the mind. To be a warrior means to use your

mental strength even when your physical strength has reached its limit. To be a warrior means to

think in terms of bettering yourself as compared to just simply being better than your classmates.

Being a warrior means not letting all the glitz and glam that competing tournaments might offer

or doing really extravagant jump kicks get in the way of your training potential.

Sure, I could be all “woe is me” because I didn’t start training at the ripe age of three, or six, or

even ten or twelve; but being that I’ll never age backwards, without a great scientific miracle that

is, that seems like a bit of a waste of time.

Who knows, maybe in 10 years down the road, when I’m potentially a black belt, or maybe even

a second or third dan, there might be a girl not too dissimilar from myself who will look at me

and think that they’ll never get to where I am because they started too late or because their kicks

aren’t as good as mine, etc. Then when she gets her black belt, the cycle will continue.

I bet that even the black belts and Master instructors within our association look to their seniors

and think the same things as I do about their own techniques; but that’s their story to tell.