At our martial arts school we are privileged to teach students from aged 5 to 75. It’s extremely rewarding to see the development and growth our youngest students as they learn the fundamentals of our martial art. It is exciting to know that they have decades of life ahead of them and that the guidance and training they receive while at our school may positively influence their lives in some way.
It is equally rewarding though to work with older students. Our oldest student, Dahn Boh Nim Margaret, joined our school three years ago with her granddaughter. She was 72 when she started her martial arts training. Both are now well on their way to achieving their black belt. Working with DBN Margaret constantly reminds me of the importance of embracing and celebrating the experience and contribution older people bring to all aspects of society.
There is an uncomfortable reality in our society. Older people can face discrimination because of their age, although it is often subtle. The elderly can be seen as a burden on younger taxpayers, due to the health and pension costs that old age and retirement bring. Their views and experience can be dismissed as lacking in relevance to the younger population. Social isolation and elder abuse are all too frequent realities. Current research indicates that about half of older New Zealanders experience some level of loneliness, and 8-9% feel lonely all or most of the time. Elder abuse is also prevalent. Around 10% of people aged over 65 will experience some form of elder abuse. These statistics are not unique to New Zealand. They represent a global phenomenon.
In the martial arts world, we often focus on physical prowess and athletic ability, which are associated with youth. However, it is important to also embrace and celebrate our older martial artists. There are many reasons for this.
JKN Jane Hurst
First degree black belt and school owner
Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero
Note: Dahn Boh Nim or DBN is black-brown belt rank in Kuk Sool Won™.
Copyright © 2018. Kuk Sool Won™ of Onewhero. All Rights Reserved.
Caroline is a 4th degree black belt and Jane is a 1st degree black belt in the traditional Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won™ . They run 2 Kuk Sool Won™ martial arts schools in New Zealand.