The effects of age on Taekwondo sparring are relative and sometimes specific to the individual fighter. However, barring any specific injury or illness, aging means that your strength, flexibility, joint movement, endurance, and thinking speed will degrade, which will slow your speed of movement and reaction time. These factors do not degrade at the same rate, some may degrade relatively early in life, while others only degrade in your later years. Most times the changes occur gradually over many years so we learn to compensate for them without realizing it. However, at some point, the degradation reaches a point that we can no longer compensate for it and we have to make major changes in the way we fight.
After training continuously in Taekwondo for many years, your body should have developed a lot of muscle memory, which means it reacts to events on its own. For example, when your opponent exposes his or her abdomen, your lead leg fires a round kick to the opening, seemingly without any conscious thought on your part. Even though your speed and reflex time may have degraded, muscle memory helps makes up for some of the loss.
Years of training also means years of experience. Over the years, you will have seen just about every type of technique possible, will have learned to “read” your opponents’ intentions, learned how to hide your intentions, learned to relax and not make wasted movements, and learned how to misdirect and fool your opponents. These things help you make up for any degradation due to aging.
- Next >>