View Full Version : Karate Kata and Cognition

Gabriel Suarez
12-31-2018, 11:51 AM
Interesting article in my newsfeed today. Following my own policy, here is a synposis and an intro paragraph.

Karate Kata and Cognition (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/black-belt-brain/201709/karate-kata-and-cognition?fbclid=IwAR2yZyLOZdNFwOOTcKrtcgGVssGKKcc f0cG6qa-dVVTMgz7AtrgyyB77g9U)There is no expiration date on neuroplasticity (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/black-belt-brain/201303/teaching-old-brain-new-tricks-and-kicks) and being active is always a good thing (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/black-belt-brain/201403/should-grandma-and-grandpa-dance-rihanna). Traditional martial arts training has long been suggested as an activity to benefit folks across the lifespan and there are many anecdotal reports of practitioners at very advanced ages. I personally have met and trained with many martial arts masters who were in their late 70s to mid 80s. While physically slower, they displayed amazing timing and thus remained terrifying in their technical abilities.

Although we make a correlation, observing someone of advanced age doing an activity like martial arts doesn't really prove to us that the activity preserved their function. We need training interventions to prove that and training interventions for older adults have long been lacking. But the kind of evidence derived from training interventions is much more powerful than cross-sectional studies because they are direct tests of the training itself.

Ted Demosthenes
12-31-2018, 02:07 PM
As one fully-qualified at over-70, I'm in agreement with the views of the article, and with the other WT threads on aging, fitness, diet, supplements and hormone replacement. The point I make to all, no matter the age number, is to get after it NOW! Don't wait, do something, anything, but start, restart, or up your game, no matter what.

Ask Gabe, Brent, and a bunch of others here, how to get through the 30-50 band of life; the place where most forget to be appropriately active. I was less active than needed 48-58. By 60, I clearly saw where I needed to go to get back on track, including a "Federally-enhanced" appreciation for the benefits of focused (meaning practical application of) martial arts.

I stated training in Brent's dojo (thanks sensei!) just after joining the SI instructor staff (Thanks again, Cap'n Gabriel). By my own assessment, I understand concept more quickly than technique, but persistence is the answer to that aspect of learning. Increasing my kata practice time is helping both concept and technique. It works both sides of the brain, conditions the body, increases agility, promotes speed, teaches efficiency of movement and, maybe most important of all, helps improve balance. While not really close to Gabe or Brent (or Fred and Ginger...uh, never mind) in their ability to move, kata and karate make me much more conscious of my foot work in everyday life.

Not in this article, but very germane for everyone past about 20, along with your katas, you must understand, learn, and practice, how to fall. Falling is just another part of life. Some fall more than others, but all will find themselves testing gravity even though we know for certain how it works. The older you get, the more important your fall skills and techniques become and the more probable injury may be. Recovery times for injuries will increase; less so for the fit, more so for those not. Find someone who understands that you aren't 20-something, acknowledges the risk of learning and practicing, and provides an appropriate setting to practice.


12-31-2018, 02:32 PM
Seems counterintuitive, but the leaner (skinnier) you are the more important learning how to fall is. At the risk of stating the obvious, muscle is padding, too--it spreads and absorbs impact. Land hard on (your own) bony shoulder, hip or ass and it will hurt, break, or both.

And with that, it's off to the garage to pick up heavy things and save what's left.

Greg Nichols
12-31-2018, 02:52 PM
As much as falling, tumbling is important and learning how to use rather than arrest your momentum to regain your feet faster is an important skill. When was the last time you did a summersault much less a running or diving one? When riding bulls I've taken a lot of diggers and high velocity/energy. What I found was the ones I was able to tuck and roll with didn't cause any damage and allowed me to regain my footing and mobility faster than the ones where I was out of control and the impact arrested my momentum. Those hurt and usually cause injury.

Gabriel Suarez
12-31-2018, 06:49 PM
Learning how to fall is good...making a habit out of it is not. Changing levels...interesting name no...is a good skill to develop. A year or so ago I had just finished a grueling leg workout and was heading inside for a shower, caught my foot on a step and began to fall. Rather than doing the panic-shit-myself thing, I accepted the fall, rolled out of it onto my feet and continued on my way as if I had planned it. You don't learn that sort of thing at Fat Bobby's Keltec Sponsored CCW Class.

Ted Demosthenes
12-31-2018, 08:14 PM
Greg and Gabe,

Amen to the manage the fall through to upright and back in the fight. Or, trip (pun intended) to the shower (or when the dog does a hard 90 bat-turn while running with you and you forward roll over said dog and keep going).

As stated above, MA can help keep you from making a habit of falling, and a lot more.

01-01-2019, 06:06 AM
So glad I was taught the proper way to fall and to roll at an early age in Jujitsu training. Even at 38, it’s fun to watch the stares of disbelief as I demonstrate a “Judo roll” on concrete.

Especially as they gasp, ”But doesn’t that hurt?!!!”

Not if executed correctly. And yes, not something you’ll ever learn in “Elmer Fudd’s guns school.”

Brent Yamamoto
01-01-2019, 12:16 PM
I have always believed that physical activity, combining mental activity and coordination, is good for the brain. Doesn’t surprise me that studies back it up. (Of course I believe that studies either confirm common sense or they are wrong)

01-01-2019, 01:56 PM
When I still trained in TKD, I was an assistant instructor and watched a lot of people gain greater dexterity, balance, and spatial reasoning, among other skills, into late middle age and older. Since I was young (Second Dan at 12), most of them made excuses about their inability to perform what I was teaching them to perform, until they learned to do it themselves with practice. It was fun to teach.

One of the instructors, who was in her late forties at the time, got knocked over in a sparring match and walked up to my dad (also one of the senior instructors) afterward with this huge grin on her face, because the falling drills we had worked consistently over the last few weeks had worked for her, perfectly; the repetition had ingrained the necessary bodily adjustment in her muscle memory. I did the same thing when my Razor scooter chucked me over the handlebars when I was 12 or 13; I tucked and rolled, then skidded on my side with one leg spread and the other foot posted for another five feet before managing to hop up and grab my scooter. My helmet-less head was fine, too.

01-01-2019, 03:05 PM
Always nice when them guys in the Ivory Tower decide that thousands of years of evolution in Martial Arts has a method that helps elude madness. Iíve got an office in that Tower myself and make big mistakes in a very narrow field of study. Martial Arts (Karate, Iaido, Batto-do, Kyudo) keeps the mind and body together. Riding my bicycle, lifting weights and running & gunning are just part of the whole.

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01-01-2019, 03:28 PM
We did a tumbling course one winter in middle school. It was the only thing they taught us in those classes that I ever had use for outside of school.