Many kendo clubs advertise kendo as “suitable for people of all ages”. Whilst I do not disagree with this, I think there are some serious caveats. Those lucky enough to start at a relatively young age, have had the luxury of adapting kendo over the years and to paraphrase Mochida sensei, allowing physical speed and strength to be replaced by technique and later by kizeme, based on strength of mind. For people who take up kendo in late middle, or old age it is more difficult. There are exceptions of course, but in most cases, late starters lack the strength and flexibility to start with “young kendo” and it is impossible to cram decades of experience into a short beginner’s course. Even seasoned kendoka can have problems after a long break from training. I recently met an experienced Japanese player in his 30’s who returned to kendo after a 10 year interval. Within minutes of reverting to university level footwork, he experienced Achilles tendon problems. So what should the more mature kenshi do to get the most gain without too much pain. Firstly find a sympathetic instructor who understands the limitations of his students. Work on correct technique and cutting and keep your posture correct. Try to make good fumikomi, but do not take such big steps that you strain your Achilles tendon. Always bring your left foot up quickly so the toe is in line with your right heel. Above all relax. If you feel any sudden twinges stop! Being prudent however does not mean you should not practise with full spirit. It is not all bad news for us oldies. Someone told me about his dad who started at 60 and reached 5th dan without failing a single grading. I also have a friend who restarted after a 27 year break and reached 7th dan. So give it your best, but do not overdo it.
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