Photo of author and spouse with Black Belts

Karate as a way of Keeping Fit

Keeping physically active is important at every age.

Walking is a great, low-impact exercise that I enjoy on my own, with my husband or a family member. For the past few years, and especially during the COVID pandemic, I regularly walk 4-6 miles (6-10 Kms). But I didn’t always enjoy exercising.


I hated “gym” class all the way through school. The embarrasment of sharing a common change room and showers, the smell of everyone’s teenage hormonal pong, the awful baggy uniforms we had to wear, and the fact that I wasn’t well coordinated, all led to feelings of discomfort.


It was my husband, always physically active, who introduced me to aerobics classes in my late 20’s. I joined the local YM-YWCA, which was closer to work, and enrolled in “jazzercise” classes. I was immediately hooked! It was like dancing – and I have always loved to dance – people have called me an “energizer bunny” on the dance floor.


I even signed up to practice for a 10 K run in my 30’s and was so proud of achieving that goal! But it was NOT an activity I could maintain, as my flat feet and hip could not withstand the pounding. That’s why I prefer walking.


On 3 other days when I don’t walk, I participate in a Kenpo Karate group class. Karate!? you might ask. When I was in my late 50’s, my husband suggested we do a new activity together. He knew a really nice fellow who operated a dojo. I abhor violence, had been fortunate never to be personally involved or exposed to it, and I declined the suggestion. At the time, we travelled extensively, and then experienced some minor incidents that convinced me some self defense techniques would be useful.


So I agreed to try out a group class, which was much like an aerobics class (sans the music) with self defense moves added in. I enjoyed the comraderie of the group, and I liked the challenge of learning something new and testing my physical capabilities.


My husband and I are both goal-oriented, and after a few months of group classes, we signed up to learn the belt system. After 6 years of intensive training, we have both earned our second degree Black Belts! My hand-eye coordination was vastly improved! Another proof that one is never too old to learn skills that require building memory in our bodies and brain!


During the pandemic, anti-Asian hate crime increased, so as a senior female of Asian descent, it is even more important that I learned to protect myself, particularly if I am on my own. Also during this time, like many gyms and dojos, we had to resort to classes on-line. Most of the students learning on-line are seniors. For more information about the benefits of learning self defense at any age, contact →

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