Thursday, June 2, 2011

“You’re as old as you move.”

Roger Machado said this to a group of us training with him this evening. Machado is a really impressive martial artist and teacher of Brazilian jiu jitsu, and the session with him tonight was great.

He offered this as an inspirational thing: if you stay fit and moving, you’ll feel great for a long time. He told us about a 74-year old student of his who moves better than some of us do, and he talked about his uncle – one of the famous Gracies, I don’t recall which – who was rolling (what they seem to call randori in BJJ) into his 90s. I don’t doubt this; I’ve myself trained with masters in their 60s and 70s whose strength and flexibility were extremely impressive – not “for their age” but just plain impressive: you did not want them to hit you.

So I thought Master Machado’s comment was apt and inspiring in that way. But I particularly liked it because it contemplates the vicious flipside with more honesty than phrases like “you’re only as old as you feel,” which has a connotation of its being your fault if you are (i.e., have allowed yourself to feel) old. I’ve had, and I imagine many people reading this have had, family members who aged very quickly after an accident that impaired their mobility. “She was doing fine, but then she broke her hip and it was like she aged 5 years in six months.” People whose mobility is gradually taken from them by arthritis or other degenerative condition, similarly, often speak about and mourn it in explicit terms of well, I’m old now.

So it’s a goal, yeah; but it also feels like an honest address of how things are. 

I better keep icing this knee.

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