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RookieWriter

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Jeez, I can relate to this one as well.

For a lot of years I was feeling as though I was in the vilest industry in the entire country; almost as many MA instructors were known to be scum as were decent human beings – the two groups were poles apart. That was all a long time ago though, so I can’t speak for the state of things these days, other than some of the pathetic standards that have always existed to some extent are still to be found in nearly every town.

Stories like this are part of the dark side of MA. I've also heard stories about instructors molesting children, hitting six year old girls in class with sticks, ect. I never have been around it first hand but I know it is out there. There is so much good in MA though. I know that you will agree with me when I say that if you find the right MA school it will change your life. I was able to find two of them that had a huge impact on improving mine. It's too bad that some people exploit MA and the people who honestly want to use it to improve their lives. MA is full of inspiring stories, funny stories, and life changing events. There is a certain amount of absurdity mixed into it also.
 
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RookieWriter

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OK, so try meditating like a lemon.

Yes, sir! I do think it will help my striking combos!

Honestly though, do you use meditation? I did a short meditation (under 90 seconds) before Karate class and found it was useful. It helped me focus. That being said I used to think it was kinda bunk but now I am reconsidering.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Yes, sir! I do think it will help my striking combos!

Honestly though, do you use meditation? I did a short meditation (under 90 seconds) before Karate class and found it was useful. It helped me focus. That being said I used to think it was kinda bunk but now I am reconsidering.

God, don’t go and start calling me that.

About meditation. My instructor was good at it, he was really able to get you to relax and think inwardly (for want of a better term) and I loved how he was able to get us to redirect our focus. It was really good for recovery after a particularly tough session. Unfortunately, when I was starting to teach there was just so much that needed overhauling that some things fell by the wayside and that was one of them. I always used to tell myself that I wasn’t properly qualified to do it anyway, which was true, but it was also true that everything in MA is learn as you go, so not pursuing meditation is on me. In part, my reasoning was that people were paying me to teach them things, and getting them to sit around breathing seemed like something other than they had signed up for. I do still use some of the skills, but not in a specifically structured setting. Maybe I should bring it back in? These days most of my students are kids and they would probably be more receptive to it than, say, a late teen or twenty-something.

I found it to be particularly useful for ignoring pain, such as whenever I cop a kick in the nads, or once when I broke a finger. If only I had known those mind tricks when I used to skin my palms in kindy, that would have been really handy!

I would like to hear about others’ experiences with this aspect, it gets so little attention.
 
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Norman Mjadwesch

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Stories like this are part of the dark side of MA. I've also heard stories about instructors molesting children, hitting six year old girls in class with sticks, ect. I never have been around it firsthand but I know it is out there. There is so much good in MA though. I know that you will agree with me when I say that if you find the right MA school it will change your life. I was able to find two of them that had a huge impact on improving mine. It's too bad that some people exploit MA and the people who honestly want to use it to improve their lives. MA is full of inspiring stories, funny stories, and life changing events. There is a certain amount of absurdity mixed into it also.

Yeah man, that whole industry can be a wrecking ball. It’s a lot simpler being a newbie, that’s for sure: go to class, learn some new stuff (meditating like an orange / lemon, if RW so pleases), go home feeling value added, happy chappy.

So enough stories about the filth at least until tomorrow…

Here is one of my uplifting stories. Kind of. Because you have to feel sorry for the poor kid who it is about. A couple of years ago I was asked to do a fathers’ day demo with my class so we did. Afterward, a mum came to talk to me and said that her kid was interested. Some pertinent points:

The kid in question was adopted, his mother had been a crack / alcohol addict and he was born with more addictions and problems than you could poke a stick at. His most significant ones were mild cerebral palsy on one side of his body, epilepsy, encephalitis (causing occasional brain bleeds) and a violent temper when he got frustrated. Throw in some ADHD as well. Aside from the things that affected him in the present, doctors expected him to die in his twenties at the latest and if he lived past his teens he would become blind. Since he was wrapped in cotton wool, he wasn’t able to run around like a normal kid and had become a bit overweight and was also at risk of becoming diabetic because who wouldn’t dump that on a kid who had been dealt the crappiest hand in the history of the known universe?

That’s what you can get when you are a foetus whose parent was a serious substance abuser.

So yeah, not a very uplifting story so far.

But see, his adoptive mum gave a shit about him. This kid wasn’t going to live a long life, and since he was going to have health issues if he didn’t exercise, and other health issues if he did (one time he fell off a skateboard and was in a coma for a week, because bumping your head when you have encephalitis is a deadly prospect), his mum decided to give him what quality of life she could give him. So when he expressed a desire to learn martial arts she asked me if I’d teach him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Warning bells? Nah, man, that was more like every emergency service sounding their alarms on full bore with an air raid siren thrown in for good measure. Do you have any idea of the public liability that I would be facing if anything went wrong with this kid?

So do you know what I did? I asked for a doctors certificate specifying the things I could do with him (I made a list for the doctor to approve) and then I went and visited that kid’s physio to ask his opinion on what might be of benefit and what should be avoided. Then I told the mum that her boy would not be doing any of the training with the other kids because of the fall-over-and-die thing. Then I started training him, on the understanding that he would only train on the mats and never on the bare floor, and that headgear was mandatory.

Did he whinge? Yep. Since when were push ups and sit ups part of martial arts? LOL, since forever. We worked on getting his weak side stronger, and we did a bit of bag work for his coordination but only as much as he could manage before he lost concentration. I taught him to keep his hands up because he needed to protect his head at the exclusion of all else. It was really basic, and he only did half an hour a week. I didn’t bother with anything too fancy, and kicks were banned.

But then a funny thing happened. The other kids in my class cottoned on to the fact that I was opening half an hour early once a week and they asked if they could come in and do some warm ups and practise amongst themselves until their class started. Sure, why not? And that kid started to make friends with the other kids in the class, even though they didn’t train together.

Because he couldn’t train according to the standard syllabus, I was unable to grade him in the usual way. So instead of giving him a white belt, I had a camo belt made for him with his name embroidered on it, and I told him every time the other kids graded he could have a stripe in the rainbow progression to sew onto his awesome commando belt. That belt was so freaking impressive that some of the other kids wanted one too, but I told them they were too healthy and they’d just have to have the boring version that they were used to. One of them even complained, but I suppose he was too young to know he was on a good thing compared to the other kid.

Anyway, one day at school there was this other kid who was a total knob and this kid (in front of a teacher, that’s how dumb he was) actually took a swing at my newest student because why wouldn’t you want to kill someone by punching him the head if he was going to die anyway? But my little champ didn’t panic and he kept his hands up and the punch didn’t connect and then he threw enough wild windmill punches in succession that one of them busted the moron kid’s nose. Of course, the teacher saw it all, and the kid with the bleeding nose got suspended. Weirdly (but not unexpectedly) that kid’s mum put in a complaint to the school about how the other kid had beaten up her poor innocent lamb. Even more weirdly, the school principal (who has zero tolerance for fighting and suspends all participants) told the complainant to beat it and no further action was taken.

The next day I got a phone call from mum and she filled me in. Then: “He did what you told him and he’s OK, but he’s frightened of getting in trouble off you for fighting. He doesn’t want to come tonight.” Unacceptable! He must answer for his actions! So that afternoon I met him at the front door and he looked really frightened that I was going to bore him a new one. I asked to see his hands. He lifted one up, palm outwards. Me: “High five!” LOL, I wouldn’t normally treat something like that so lightly, but I was really proud of him.

And no, there were no happy endings. A few weeks later he suffered another brain bleed and was in hospital for a long time. He pulled though, but never returned to training. But I did teach him the skills that saved his life.

OK, so that’s my happy story, children. Tomorrow Mr Grumpy will be back.
 
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edutton

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we were always doing everything possible to not only maintain but to increase standard, and almost all of our generated revenue (and there was a lot, at least in those years) was spent on instructors travelling all over the place to attend seminars on a range of different topics.
That sounds... really nice. I wish we had that kind of income! As it is, for the moment I've had to curtail my own seminar travel b/c it's all out of pocket and right now all that money is going to my kid's college. :cry:


I checked out an Aikido school here and it was a toss up between them and the Karate. If this Karate doesn't work out I will go check out Aikido.
What's the name of the Aikido school? Just curious. :)

do you use meditation?
I have done, it can be helpful! Lately, when I can I try to get to the dojo early enough that I'm likely to have a half hour or so to myself, and I use that time to practice iaido, which I find functions as a sort of moving meditation.
 
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edutton

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Here is one of my uplifting stories. Kind of.

You made that kid's life better than it was, at least for a while! That's a huge thing.

Here's my nice story. A number of years ago a young teen girl came looking for some self defense training (she was being bullied pretty severely and the school didn't see it, despite having a zero-tolerance policy)... but she was uncomfortable working with the class full of big men. So Sensei gave her a few weeks of one-on-one training (with her mom present, naturally), enough to drill in the absolute basics - defensive posture, get off the line, use the attacker's momentum against them.

One day she came bouncing in with a huge grin: the usual lunchtime bullying had started, and she'd brushed off an attempted punch. This made the bully mad, of course, and they started in much more in earnest. A ring of kids formed, usual thing, and our girl just kept slipping off the line and "helping" the attacker to go past her, all the while saying, "I don't want to fight you." Teachers finally made it over there, saw what was happening and hauled the bully out and suspended her... and sent our girl back to class.

Sometimes you win.
 
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Norman Mjadwesch

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That sounds... really nice. I wish we had that kind of income! As it is, for the moment I've had to curtail my own seminar travel b/c it's all out of pocket and right now all that money is going to my kid's college. :cry:

It was good to have an income from it, at least for a while. The rest of the time most revenue covers overheads and very little else. It isn’t a job that can sustain a lifestyle, not unless you are able to run a huge school, and even then a lot of assistant instructors are volunteers; I’ve heard of masters who do very little themselves but live in mansions, while the bulk of the grunt work is done by others whose only reward is the prestige of teaching (I did it, I’m not saying it’s nothing). That’s a huge inequality, but most instructors / assistants seem happy enough with it.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Here's my nice story. A number of years ago a young teen girl came looking for some self defense training (she was being bullied pretty severely and the school didn't see it, despite having a zero-tolerance policy)... but she was uncomfortable working with the class full of big men. So Sensei gave her a few weeks of one-on-one training (with her mom present, naturally), enough to drill in the absolute basics - defensive posture, get off the line, use the attacker's momentum against them.

One day she came bouncing in with a huge grin: the usual lunchtime bullying had started, and she'd brushed off an attempted punch. This made the bully mad, of course, and they started in much more in earnest. A ring of kids formed, usual thing, and our girl just kept slipping off the line and "helping" the attacker to go past her, all the while saying, "I don't want to fight you." Teachers finally made it over there, saw what was happening and hauled the bully out and suspended her... and sent our girl back to class.

These are the kind of stories that make you realise how much you actually know. In a class environment, because everything is relative and the newbies always know less than the seniors, sometimes people doubt whether what they have learned actually works. Even though I’d prefer everyone to avoid confrontation, I do like hearing about how the middling students fare in the real world. Some of the stories they bring back (or more usually, that I hear from parents because the kids know what I think about them fighting) are quite eye-opening. Too many to recount, but much like the example above. There is really easy stuff to learn that doesn’t take long to pick up.

And yeah, if you are teaching minors be sure to have another adult present. (I break this rule only for kids that I have known for a very long time, and even then I'd rather not but sometimes parents just want a break from being parents.)

One of my favourite stories is to do with Mrs NM. We used to train at home together in the back yard for a couple of hours every weekend, and sometimes the things we practised resulted in minor lumps and abrasions, and on at least one occasion, some finger mark bruises on an upper arm. So anyway, a few days after one such episode Mrs NM was at work wearing a sleeveless top, and a little old lady (a customer) walked up to her and saw the yellowing marks on her arm and said straight up: “He’s not worth it, dear.” LOL, no amount of denial was working and the little old lady didn’t want to hear an explanation and no doubt went on her way thinking that I was a prize A-hole. When that story was told to me that evening Mrs NM thought it was the funniest thing ever.
 
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RookieWriter

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Yeah man, that whole industry can be a wrecking ball. It’s a lot simpler being a newbie, that’s for sure: go to class, learn some new stuff (meditating like an orange / lemon, if RW so pleases), go home feeling value added, happy chappy.

So enough stories about the filth at least until tomorrow…

Here is one of my uplifting stories. Kind of. Because you have to feel sorry for the poor kid who it is about. A couple of years ago I was asked to do a fathers’ day demo with my class so we did. Afterward, a mum came to talk to me and said that her kid was interested. Some pertinent points:

The kid in question was adopted, his mother had been a crack / alcohol addict and he was born with more addictions and problems than you could poke a stick at. His most significant ones were mild cerebral palsy on one side of his body, epilepsy, encephalitis (causing occasional brain bleeds) and a violent temper when he got frustrated. Throw in some ADHD as well. Aside from the things that affected him in the present, doctors expected him to die in his twenties at the latest and if he lived past his teens he would become blind. Since he was wrapped in cotton wool, he wasn’t able to run around like a normal kid and had become a bit overweight and was also at risk of becoming diabetic because who wouldn’t dump that on a kid who had been dealt the crappiest hand in the history of the known universe?

That’s what you can get when you are a foetus whose parent was a serious substance abuser.

So yeah, not a very uplifting story so far.

But see, his adoptive mum gave a shit about him. This kid wasn’t going to live a long life, and since he was going to have health issues if he didn’t exercise, and other health issues if he did (one time he fell off a skateboard and was in a coma for a week, because bumping your head when you have encephalitis is a deadly prospect), his mum decided to give him what quality of life she could give him. So when he expressed a desire to learn martial arts she asked me if I’d teach him. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Warning bells? Nah, man, that was more like every emergency service sounding their alarms on full bore with an air raid siren thrown in for good measure. Do you have any idea of the public liability that I would be facing if anything went wrong with this kid?

So do you know what I did? I asked for a doctors certificate specifying the things I could do with him (I made a list for the doctor to approve) and then I went and visited that kid’s physio to ask his opinion on what might be of benefit and what should be avoided. Then I told the mum that her boy would not be doing any of the training with the other kids because of the fall-over-and-die thing. Then I started training him, on the understanding that he would only train on the mats and never on the bare floor, and that headgear was mandatory.

Did he whinge? Yep. Since when were push ups and sit ups part of martial arts? LOL, since forever. We worked on getting his weak side stronger, and we did a bit of bag work for his coordination but only as much as he could manage before he lost concentration. I taught him to keep his hands up because he needed to protect his head at the exclusion of all else. It was really basic, and he only did half an hour a week. I didn’t bother with anything too fancy, and kicks were banned.

But then a funny thing happened. The other kids in my class cottoned on to the fact that I was opening half an hour early once a week and they asked if they could come in and do some warm ups and practise amongst themselves until their class started. Sure, why not? And that kid started to make friends with the other kids in the class, even though they didn’t train together.

Because he couldn’t train according to the standard syllabus, I was unable to grade him in the usual way. So instead of giving him a white belt, I had a camo belt made for him with his name embroidered on it, and I told him every time the other kids graded he could have a stripe in the rainbow progression to sew onto his awesome commando belt. That belt was so freaking impressive that some of the other kids wanted one too, but I told them they were too healthy and they’d just have to have the boring version that they were used to. One of them even complained, but I suppose he was too young to know he was on a good thing compared to the other kid.

Anyway, one day at school there was this other kid who was a total knob and this kid (in front of a teacher, that’s how dumb he was) actually took a swing at my newest student because why wouldn’t you want to kill someone by punching him the head if he was going to die anyway? But my little champ didn’t panic and he kept his hands up and the punch didn’t connect and then he threw enough wild windmill punches in succession that one of them busted the moron kid’s nose. Of course, the teacher saw it all, and the kid with the bleeding nose got suspended. Weirdly (but not unexpectedly) that kid’s mum put in a complaint to the school about how the other kid had beaten up her poor innocent lamb. Even more weirdly, the school principal (who has zero tolerance for fighting and suspends all participants) told the complainant to beat it and no further action was taken.

The next day I got a phone call from mum and she filled me in. Then: “He did what you told him and he’s OK, but he’s frightened of getting in trouble off you for fighting. He doesn’t want to come tonight.” Unacceptable! He must answer for his actions! So that afternoon I met him at the front door and he looked really frightened that I was going to bore him a new one. I asked to see his hands. He lifted one up, palm outwards. Me: “High five!” LOL, I wouldn’t normally treat something like that so lightly, but I was really proud of him.

And no, there were no happy endings. A few weeks later he suffered another brain bleed and was in hospital for a long time. He pulled though, but never returned to training. But I did teach him the skills that saved his life.

OK, so that’s my happy story, children. Tomorrow Mr Grumpy will be back.

That kids life was definitely improved. I'm sure there are many stories of kids lives being changed by MA but I bet few of those kids faced the same problems as the one described.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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That kids life was definitely improved. I'm sure there are many stories of kids lives being changed by MA but I bet few of those kids faced the same problems as the one described.

He really was the most incredible little kid. If you consider that any of his medical conditions in isolation would smash you flat, his cheerfulness was something to behold.

His mum, though… what an amazing human being to volunteer to take on such a heavy responsibility. She had other foster kids with their own problems, too. Sometimes I see what people put their hands up for and marvel at their humanity.

The hardest thing I have found about doing MA for as long as I have is that I have literally trained hundreds upon hundreds of people. Inevitably some of them die, and in the last few years they have been stacking up. Accidents and illness have been the primary causes, but I just find it depressing how young some of them were. Two of the ones who have died recently were former students-of-the-year, and those ones rocked me. One had been a friend my own age that I didn’t see very often, but I didn’t learn he had died until an hour after his funeral service when someone rang me asking why I hadn’t attended.
 

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Well I felt it today. It's always two days after training that I hurt the most. Same with lifting weights. It hurt getting out of bed this morning because of my Karate training. I was ready to quit LOL. I'm not quitting. I paid for the whole month. LOL.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Well I felt it today. It's always two days after training that I hurt the most. Same with lifting weights. It hurt getting out of bed this morning because of my Karate training. I was ready to quit LOL. I'm not quitting. I paid for the whole month. LOL.

Yeah, I remember that feeling. Not sure my bones would be too keen on starting over, though.

Short posts from me for a bit. Time constraints.

Happy Birthday to Chuck Norris. 79 and still going strong.

Nothing against Chuck, but someone I don’t get along with is always rabbiting on about Walker and I just can’t bring myself to watch it. That would be like admitting that someone who is never right… is right (not happening). To a lesser degree I have the same thing with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. There are so many wankers in MA who always go on about them that the entire worship is a bit much to swallow. Weirdly, I don’t feel that way about Tony Jaa. Ong-Bak was next level, and the last scene in The Protector was incredible – so many variations on just one technique.
 
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edutton

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I looked into these folks a little bit. It looks like Mendibles Sensei has a pretty solid lineage... I'm not familiar with her Sensei, but he spent twelve years studying under Saito Sensei (who was one of O-Sensei's principal students), so hopefully should know a thing or two :). (There's an interview with Salvatore Sensei from 2009 here, if you're interested.)

The dojo website doesn't mention being affiliated with a larger organization, but the "Aikikai" after Mendibles Sensei's rank tells me that it comes from the home org in Japan. That might mean that dan candidates have to travel to Japan to be tested - there used to be an independent school in our area that had to do that.
 
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Norman Mjadwesch

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I ran into one of my former students yesterday. There I was, walking down the street minding my own business, and he just came up to me and asked if I was still training. He left a couple of years ago after breaking his shoulder playing soccer (goalkeeper), he’s still getting treatment for it, the arm dislocated too many times while it was healing and he will be managing it for the rest of his life.

I really like it that people appreciate the time we trained together. I have these chance meetings every year or so.
 

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Had a good private lesson tonight. Did some light sparring. First time sparring in over 12 years. Did some bag work too. Great workout. Just what I needed.

I looked into these folks a little bit. It looks like Mendibles Sensei has a pretty solid lineage... I'm not familiar with her Sensei, but he spent twelve years studying under Saito Sensei (who was one of O-Sensei's principal students), so hopefully should know a thing or two :). (There's an interview with Salvatore Sensei from 2009 here, if you're interested.)

The dojo website doesn't mention being affiliated with a larger organization, but the "Aikikai" after Mendibles Sensei's rank tells me that it comes from the home org in Japan. That might mean that dan candidates have to travel to Japan to be tested - there used to be an independent school in our area that had to do that.

When I went over there they were super cool. I talked with her for at least a half hour after class and I think she did talk about doing some training in Japan but I don't remember exactly. I could easily have signed up there and still might sometime. Thanks for the interview.
 

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I ran into one of my former students yesterday. There I was, walking down the street minding my own business, and he just came up to me and asked if I was still training. He left a couple of years ago after breaking his shoulder playing soccer (goalkeeper), he’s still getting treatment for it, the arm dislocated too many times while it was healing and he will be managing it for the rest of his life.

I really like it that people appreciate the time we trained together. I have these chance meetings every year or so.

Had a good private lesson tonight. Did some light sparring. First time sparring in over 12 years. Did some bag work too. Great workout. Just what I needed.
...
When I went over there they were super cool. I talked with her for at least a half hour after class and I think she did talk about doing some training in Japan but I don't remember exactly. I could easily have signed up there and still might sometime. Thanks for the interview.

Good news all over the place today! :)
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Good news all over the place today! :)

For me it was more of a reminder of things that disrupt our lives. That kid was unfinished business so far as I was concerned. At the time of his injury he was just beginning to understand how everything fit together, and then his training came to a screaming halt. Yes, he can always return, but what I have found is that almost everyone who quits doesn’t return. Either they know how much work needs to be put in to regain where they were at, or else they come back and realise that the class dynamic is different because their old friends have moved on and everything is back to square one for networking.
 

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For me it was more of a reminder of things that disrupt our lives. That kid was unfinished business so far as I was concerned. At the time of his injury he was just beginning to understand how everything fit together, and then his training came to a screaming halt. Yes, he can always return, but what I have found is that almost everyone who quits doesn’t return. Either they know how much work needs to be put in to regain where they were at, or else they come back and realise that the class dynamic is different because their old friends have moved on and everything is back to square one for networking.

Makes sense. It's tough to go home again. Sensei and I were talking last week how usually they lose a lot of people over Christmas break. Students will take a month off over the holiday and plan to return but often don't ever come back. Plus I would think if someone has left because of a major injury or has been gone a long time they might have serious physical concerns. That's why I say I am just experimenting with training again. I turn 40 next year and don't know how my body is going to hold up after years of not being very active. Particularly my knees and lower back. One of the reasons I stopped training was so much soreness in those areas. It's good to stay in shape and learn to protect yourself because that is good for your health. What's also good for your health is not getting physically injured. Sometimes I wonder if some students more at risk getting hurt in a self defense class than in a real altercation.

Also as you get older priorities chance. Jobs, family, kids, schedules, ect. Money can also become an issue.

I was gone for 12 years and until recently I can honestly say that I didn't miss it very often. If I didn't need to lose weight and get back into shape I wouldn't be training. I do find that MA pushes me harder than I ever would on my own.
 

edutton

Ni. Peng. Neee-Wom.
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North Carolina, unfortunately
I turn 40 next year and don't know how my body is going to hold up after years of not being very active.
FWIW, I was 41 when I started Aikido, and it had been a largely sedentary decade since I stopped fighting SCA. I've had a few minor-to-moderate injuries - AC joint sprains mostly (shoulder injuries are fairly common in our world), and one groin pull when I caught my foot in my partner's hakama during a big ukemi and only the left half of me actually finished the roll - but nothing that kept me off the mat longer than a few weeks. And since I like to attend and observe even when I can't train, I've never had that hard interruption that might lead to not returning.

And I discovered years ago that once you know enough to understand what you're seeing, you can learn a LOT by watching without the subconscious distraction of knowing you're going to have to get up and perform any second. ;)