Returning To Martial Arts After A Long Absence

mature adults practicing tai chi

For those of you that have practiced martial arts for many years and then let them go for one reason or another, there is still hope! Most martial artists have a real passion for their art. Even after not practicing for a brief, or long time, you never forget the moves or the fun you had while in good shape. But you have not worked out for a while and you're out of shape. What do you do?

First, don't try to do everything you were once able to do. The mind will fool you into thinking that you can still do the moves just like the "good old days". Unfortunately, your body will beg to differ. Take a deep breath before a workout and make sure you do a long, slow warm-up. Concentrate on stretching. One of my teachers, Master Y.C. Chiang used to always say, "Long legs, long life". Work slowly and methodically to get back. Remember, you're not there yet.

Finally, don't get disappointed when things that were once easy now seem rather hard. With time and effort, your body will be able to do what your mind tells it without too much fuss. The hardest thing, especially if you were very skilled, is to resist the temptation to pounce or explode into the moves. When I started my journey back into shape I tore a stomach and back muscle simultaneously by throwing a spinning back kick just like I used to do.

Needless to say the one week recoup and pain of it all taught me a valuable lesson. Be patient, take your time warming up and never lose sight of the "fun" you are having. Getting back in shape is realistic goal as long as you maintain your composure and remember that once out of shape it takes just that much more effort to get back in shape.

Rick Zanotti is a Master of Kung Fu specializing in Northern Shaolin and Tai Chi and is the president of a software development and consulting firm.