Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mercer County Nationals: A Senior-Friendly Event

If you're a senior in the martial arts, plan now to be at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J., on March 16th for the 18th Annual Mercer County National Karate Championship.  Under the leadership of Master Ivan Mendez, this year's tournament promises to be an even bigger success than last year's first-rate event. 
   Last year's tournament attracted 550 competitors and more than 700 spectators.  To help accommodate the growing interest in this family-oriented program, the 2013 Mercer County Nationals will operate in two Rider University gyms rather than just one.  Athletes will once again be able to compete in weapons, forms, point sparring, and continuous sparring, in each case according to age and rank.
   The tournament is open to martial artists regardless of style, so for spectators this is a golden opportunity to see top competitors representing a wide range of martial-arts disciplines.  Media coverage for the event will be provided by Action Martial Arts Magazine.
   One of the most important features of this year's tournament is best represented by the words of the director, Master Mendez: "We are seeking female & male competitors over 50 & 60 years old to participate in the event's activities. This year we would love to commemorate SENIORS for their efforts and contributions to the martial arts."  If that doesn't sound senior-friendly enough for you, then you should read the sentences again.
   Many tournaments -- too many, I would say -- have a top age group of 35 or 40, and that doesn't send a warm-and-fuzzy message to those of us who are pushing 70.  So I give Master Mendez two thumbs up for actively promoting the role of seniors in the martial arts and doing what he can to attract older competitors.
   The rest is up to us now.  If you're 50 or older and still active in a martial art, please join me at the 2013 Mercer County Nationals.  It's not about whether you come home with a medal.  It's about staying in the game, doing your best, and making some new friends. 
   See you at Rider University on March 16th.  For more information about the 2013 Mercer County National Karate Championship, please visit 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You just ran out of excuses

If you live in Central New Jersey and have been complaining that you can't find martial-arts programs for seniors, you'll have to find a new excuse for not training.  There are now two ways for you to access senior-friendly programs if you live in or around West Windsor.
   Free workshops for senior centers.  Yours truly is now offering free "senior self-defense workshops" -- either one or two 45-minute sessions -- at official community senior centers in Central New Jersey.  The sessions can cover unarmed self-defense only or incorporate self-defense techniques using a standard cane.  These programs cover a set of basic techniques that seniors can use in the event of an attack.  Participants should be cleared by their physicians to take part in this low- to moderate-intensity program, and all participants MUST sign a liability waiver.  If you're interested in this no-cost basic workshop, please speak with your local senior center director so that he or she can place me on the schedule.  A contact form is available at                                          
   Ongoing martial arts classes.  Men and women who are 55 and older can enroll in a senior-friendly program offered by my friend and colleague, Master Steven Phillips (pictured at right), owner and head instructor of the West Windsor Taekwondo Academy.  A 5th-degree black belt who has more than 90 championships to his credit -- including world championship belts for kickboxing -- Master Phillips will provide classes for seniors who are either just beginning their martial arts training or for experienced martial artists who want to train with other seniors.  Students of all ranks and styles are welcome to participate in this "fitness and self-defense" program.  For information about enrollment and the nature of the training, please contact Master Phillips.  You'll find his phone number at  Pictured below is a portion of Master Phillips' West Windsor studio.
West Windsor Taekwondo Academy
   As I've said in this blog many times before, it's not too late to "unretire" or to begin martial arts training for the first time.  For a fuller discussion of why I believe seniors belong in the martial arts, simply visit "Taekwondo for Seniors" at
   Hope to see you before long.