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What is the average age of the students in the school that you attend? Why is that?

This has come up in conversation a few times over the past month. It gave me the recognition that I can only count less than 10 black belts and instructors who started with (or just ahead of) me that are still active.

Most have very few adult students. That tends to be a major trend in the martial arts industry as there’s more money in kids classes. Since I started martial arts in college, I think that I’ve got a different viewpoint about who I want in class. I bet many of school owners who know me shake their heads about this…and a couple other things that I do.

Austin, 77, demonstrating Mudo (martial spirit).

The actual realization that I’ve been around for a long time is when I started having to make adaptations for some combinations within the Chung Bong hyungs that I teach. Why is this, you ask? It comes from not having only young students in class. The flying side kick and the ground kicks can be difficult for some of the students in their late 40’s and early 50’s. You have to remember that, often, it is the mileage and not the age.

I’ve had both hips replaced (15 and 13 years ago). This has made several techniques in the Chung Bong hyungs difficult. I’ve found that I can teach them as originally given to me but when doing the form completely at speed, I’ve got to adapt a couple of them. This is one of the reasons that I believe there aren’t many adult martial artists. Very few are adapting the curriculum to allow adults to perform well and not become discouraged.

The other main reason that I believe there are fewer adults training is that there is too much focus on being successful in competition. Those who are successful keep going but those who aren’t stop training. Even those who are successful tend to stop training once they don’t regularly win or place at competitions.

Students stopping for either of these reasons is sad. It is a failing of the martial arts. I’ve had the concept that the martial arts are a lifelong pursuit but when there aren’t adaptations or narrow focus, we loose many. What is the focus of your school? I’m very proud to have students in their 60’s and 70’s along with some young ones. If you ask the young ones, though, they’ll tell you that I don’t have kids in class. I only have students.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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