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I am a 43 years old software developer in vaguely reasonable shape (can do 20-ish pushups, can run 5km in 30min and not grossly overweight).

My long term fitness goal is to be able to say in a job interview, when I will be 60 years old: I can code circles around juniors, if they refuse to listen I can definitely beat them up, and failing that I can easily outrun them.

Is that a reasonable long term goal? What martial arts should I train and what kind of training should I avoid as I am getting older?

I am comparing myself against young office workers not trained fighters :-)

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    It's hard not to point out that your age anxiety tied to your profession is your motivation. If all you care about is being physically in better shape than your younger coworkers, it's a pretty low bar for software developers. Most 25 year old software developers you could probably outrun and beat up at age 60 without training. Haha. But if you lose the need to compare yourself to them, yes, there are plenty of martial arts that would get you in good shape, without being too much for a 60 year old to handle, and would make you a better fighter. – Steve Weigand Mar 28 '19 at 1:47
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    If you want to be a bully, nothing can stop you but common decency… – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Mar 28 '19 at 8:55
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    I am wondering at what rate I am going to decline. Is there any chance at all for a trained 60 yrs old to outfight an untrained 20 yrs old? – Censored to protect the guilty Mar 28 '19 at 15:04
  • Steve and Sard... um... it's humor, not a serious plan. – Amorphous Blob Aug 2 '19 at 12:55
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    @AmorphousBlob Even if it were humour (which I seriously doubt), it is not funny. Threatening physical harm to someone because they disagree with you is thuggish behaviour which should be condemned whatever "it's just a joke" retroactive pathetic excused is used. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Aug 28 '19 at 7:17
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I have had the occasion to spar with a national senior champion in karate (the guy is a little over 60). I am 30 years old and reasonnably fit as well, and I have 10+ years of practice of light contact karate (and a few in full contact).

I wouldn't have been surprised for the guy to beat me because of superior sense of distance, timing, etc., but to my honest surprise he was just plain faster than me. Also he was fit enough to throw good high kicks, even to a taller opponent (me), and had good cardio.

So yes, a 60 year old can absolutely beat untrained 20 year olds.

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Yes, a trained 60 year-old can outfight an untrained 20 year-old, provided they maintain a healthy body. The average 60 year-old has already lost joint flexibility and mobility, which causes the body to start to become decrepit. A decrepit 60 year-old will always lose, even with training.

You should have no illusions that this is easy. You are probably not willing to put in the work this requires.

You must assume that others will be faster and stronger. Everyone's body will decline with age; you will not have the same strength or speed potential as your younger self. Honestly, I think everyone should train with this mentality, but I find this is frequently not the case.

Some martial arts encourage reliance upon strength and speed. Weight classes, for example, explicitly put you near strength parity. If you cannot get your techniques to work on people who are bigger and stronger when you are not old, you will not be able to get them to work on people who are bigger and stronger when you are old.

If the opponent is faster and stronger (and younger), how do you defeat them? You must move and fight efficiently.

  • Use techniques that use the power of your whole body
  • Apply force in ways the opponent cannot resist. Contrast force-on-force arm wrestling with foot sweeps, where the opponent's weight is suddenly unsupported by their legs.
  • Apply force at optimal angles so less force is required.
  • Find ways to move less distance so that even though your opponent moves faster, you arrive sooner. If you can strike at short distances with significant power, you have an enormous advantage over an opponent who needs space to windup, even if that opponent is stronger and faster.

For older martial artists:

  • Train with someone older, who has been forced to understand the limitations of age
  • Improve posture. This is about efficiency; poor posture has trained the body to work inefficiently throughout life, and you want to feel how sitting, standing, or moving efficiently feels.
  • Improve joint flexibility.
  • Learn to use your whole body. Some yogis can articulate each vertebrae in their back. This kind of control may be excessive, but it illustrates how a trained person has more control of their body than the untrained.
  • Don't get hurt. I have had people tell me, "people can get really good at this throw, but they will probably damage their shoulder doing it". Find something else.
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Yes. If you want evidence of this, get an untrained 20 year old (plenty of white-belts that age kicking around) and watch them spar with Rickson Gracie, Chris Hauter etc. Again, plenty of videos of that online.

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