Karate Styles: Surprising Links to Shortened Lifespan





karate lifespan longevity health inflammation diet Evidence-based analysis of the lives of 118 lifelong karate-ka who were 8th dan(s), style founders or successors.


Published 2013, ISBN-
9781304046949

A 261 page book on the effects of karate and lifespan using a evidenced based approach analyzing the data of the lives of 118 lifelong karate-ka who were 8th dan(s), style founders or successors. Mitigation strategies and diagnostics are provided, as food for thought, regarding the shortening in lifespan that karate causes according to the data.

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Book Comments/Reviews:

     "Just got a copy of your Karate-Lifespans book. Outstanding! This is the kind of thing that we need in karate." 
                                                                                                                         Hanshi John Sells, 8th Dan
      "I recommend to ANY who haven't read it, to please do so. It is not only thorough, but enlightening no matter
       how long you've been in and around martial arts, and no matter what your rank. In fact, the longer you're
       involved and the higher your rank, the information in this book just may apply to you....more
Kevin Harness
 
       "To all my karate friends, I whole heartedly recommend this publication. A remarkable product of meticulous research,
        laced with provocative facts make this a must for any serious karateka
. Renshi Jason Griffiths, 5th Dan

Content assembled by & related to:

  - multiple doctors spaning medical reserach, clinincians a psychologist & karate practitioners
  - the data shows that lifelong karate practice in different styles has different effects on lifespan
        - regional effects (East, West, post WWII until today & comparisons to karate-ka born in the 1800s)
        - differing types of inflammation and how it possibly ties to karate longevity
        - sparring, drills, ude tanren and kata like sanchin how do each of them really impact longevity
        - dojo cultural considerations
        - the effect of the developed karate persona & combative environments on longevity

Polls show that people have the misconception that karate lengthens one’s life, when in fact the data shows the opposite (via analysis of over one hundred 8th dans in the East & West). If we notice a truth in the data in art that seeks enlightenment, be it good or bad, it should be discussed & hopefully the results will lead to better outcomes for elite karate-ka in the decades to come.

We examine the central topic of longevity & karate by using instructor lifespan data, a review of medical diagnostics & research, longevity research encompassing sports physiology, karate psychology and
behaviour patterns which has shown to be tied to longevity (over 270 references reviewed & cited). We also discuss some interesting statements on the topic by passed masters such as Itosu of the 1800s, Shito-ryu’s Mabuni, Asai of Shotokan who openly stated health may not go hand-in-hand with budo. Despite the fact that karate provides many upsides for its practitioners, why does it appear to reduce lifespan & what can be done about it? 

In generating the data for the book, we factored in the decade and year sensei(s)  died in, their geography and given those variables, at what age they should have died at using what are called life expectancy at birth statistics and life expectancy by age statistics. Although the books focuses on sensei’s ages of death in recent decades, we also compare to famous karate sensei who were born in the 1800s. Furthermore, we compare the data to other Western sports, Olympians and martial arts like judo. All of these groups allow us to flush out hypotheses around the variables that may be affecting lifespan and talk about diagnostics or possible training or behaviour change. 

Doctors practice a system called “Evidence based practice” abbreviated to EBP, this is a process of analyzing data to decide on a scenario and ultimately prevention or treatment. We as martial artists should also train with an evidence based practice approach given recent decades has resulted in the collection of extensive data for street fighting statistics, sports and health.
 

Of course even outside of the martial arts, the image of wise karate masters reaching an old age appears to be well burned into the mind of most people in society and the data can be confronting because ‘everyone knows of an instructor that lived to a very old age’ and may cause many to argue that karate is in fact healthy in terms of enabling a long life. While by no means of the same severity, such a lack of evidence-based thinking is similar to the arguments some smokers give, “I know this guy who has been smoking all his life and is now 85”. Of course such people exist but they are the exception to the probable outcome. Funakoshi sensei, the founder of shotokan, is a great example of an exception to what the pooled karate longevity data indicates. He lived an amazing life spanning the samurai era in Japan, through two world wars and into the era of jet planes and space rockets (Funakoshi, 1956). But his longevity is an outlier amongst karate-ka. In fact, when one looks at some of his practices, such as banning sparring (an inflammation creating activity), no alcohol consumption, rarely eating meat etc., there may be arguments as to why his karate did not negatively affect his longevity - and we explore these links in this text.

Primary authors:          Dr Jason Armstrong & Dr Sarven McLinton of the University of South Australia 
Supporting authors:      Dr Matthew Gentner, Greg & Jaki Scovell, Dr Jonathan Shirley

Book Contents:

1.     Acknowledgements…………………………………………………….…9

2.     Preface……………………………….………………………………...……10

3.     Aging & Longevity ……..………….………………………………....14

3.1   Differences between countries

3.2   Genes versus Lifestyle?

3.3   Understanding how longevity is measured

3.4   What are the primary causes of death today?

Heart disease

Cancer

3.5   Aging & the effects of different exercise types

3.6   Aging & its effects on our physical abilities related to karate

Speed and power

Experience and cumulative injuries

3.7   Age has some advantages in the scheme of fighting

4.     Famous past-era sensei & their view on longevity & karate…………....40


Itosu
, Mabuni, Funakoshi, Asai sensei, comments of passed masters

A list of key karate lifestyle effects

5.     The data on ages of death across karate styles & other sports….…..43

5.1.   Evidence-based conclusions on karate instead of opinions

5.2.   Karate longevity data for regions and eras

Pooled data for styles

Comparing modern karate-ka to those born pre-1900

Comparing Japanese and non-Japanese karate-ka

5.3.   Longevity in differing karate styles

5.4.   Survey comments re quality of life benefits

5.5.   Injury data for different martial art styles – a review

5.6.   Are injuries in martial arts less or more than other sports?

5.7.   Judo

5.8.   Past-era Zen monk lifespans in Japan and China

5.9.   Non-martial arts sports & their athletes longevity

Elite level exercise versus the benefits of general exercise

The “Endurance sport category” and longevity

The “Anaerobic sport category” and longevity

6.     Why is inflammation so central to longevity & martial arts……..........…83

6.1.   Inflammation as a root cause of heart disease & cancer

6.2.   Defining inflammation

Acute vs. Chronic inflammation 

Exercise and inflammation

6.3.   Two types of arthritis as examples of runaway inflammation

6.4.   How can we measure our levels of inflammation?

6.5.   Four examples of common karate inflammation

Inflammation from a punch to the zygomatic region

Lower back inflammation related to karate

Inflammation related to karate and the knee

Inflammation from fractured or sprained fingers and toes

6.6.   Inflammation leading to cancer & any link for karate-ka?

6.7.   Karate derived Inflammation leading to heart disease?

6.8.   Exercise, longevity & inflammation

6.9.   Ude tanren – arm and hand conditioning

7.     Sanchin kata – does it actually foster health?  ……..............…...…...145

7.1.   Origins of sanchin kata

7.2.   Two differing sanchin postures – straight back vs. curved

7.3.   Sanchin, cardiac output & the Valsalva manuever

7.4.   Sanchin, isometric versus isotonic exercise?

7.5.   Complete, or almost complete, breath patterns in sanchin?

8.     Diet – a compounding link to karate and longevity?   ……....……......….156

8.1.   Okinawan and other successful diet regions

8.2.   Oxidative stress (free radicals), antioxidants & longevity

8.3.   Caloric restriction

8.4.   Comments on just a few of the key dietary factors

8.5.   Alcohol, longevity & karate culture


Why may small amounts of alcohol be good for us?

Both anti-inflammatory & arthritis effects of alcohol

Number of drinks & cancer risk

        8.5   Summary comments on diet, karate & longevity

9.     Over-the-counter & prescription drugs – longevity & anti-inflammatory

9.1.   NSAIDs  - nonsteroidal ant-iinflammtory drugs …….......................179

Aspirin - a magic bullet?

Ibuprofen

             9.2   Statins (COX-2 inhibitors)

 9.3    Steroids (corticosteroids)

             9.4   Other drugs, compounds & biologics

Anti-oxidants

Growth hormone

Natural & plant derived compounds vs. drugs for Inflammation & longevity

10.    Karate personality type, psychology & longevity…..………….….........…191

   10.1  The large impact that personality type has on longevity – it is not what you may think

   10.2  Research into the ‘Karate personality type’

   10.3  Is the combative stress of the dojo environment a longevity effector?

   10.4  The persona of “being a warrior” & its possible effect on longevity

   10.5  Stress in being a karate leader & running a dojo or organization is it good or bad for longevity?

   10.6  Being a Sensei – the longevity effect of being a mentor and having a sense of purpose

   10.7  Karate Impacting Family & its Effect on Longevity

   10.8  The #1 personality predictor of longevity

   10.9   A worrying personality in males is good for longevity but catastrophic  thoughts have the opposite effect

   10.10  Happy & cheerful? data show this is not a longevity promoter

   10.11  Further notes on one’s career, longevity and karate

   10.12  The spiritual side of karate and its possible relationship to longevity

11.    Summary & possible solutions moving forward………………..........……....211

    11.1  Consider getting a blood diagnostics panel for  inflammation  every 1-2 years
 
    11.2
  Does an anti-inflammtory diet buffer the negative effects of karate?

    11.3 Sparring: to what degree is this contributing and at what age should we stop?

    11.4  Styles, technique detail and training drill types

    11.5  Avoid instructing in ways that encourage inflammation

    11.6  Karate balance skills may be a benefit to longevity

    11.7  Understand the longevity pluses of aspirin & ibuprofen anti- inflammtory activity & their caveats

    11.8  The workload stresses of running a dojo, a plus or minus?

    11.9  The possble impact of the karate personality type & karate politics on longevity

    11.10  Alcohol and karate culture

    11.11  Routine

    11.12  Family history & your health profile

    11.13  Summary

11.   Bibliography………….……………………………………………….........................227

12.   Index…………...……………………………………….....................………………....249

13.   Supporting editors…….………………………………...................……………..…258

14.    About the author.…..….………………………………...................………….....…260


This book is the 2nd to be published in a series of 3 books to put data (evidenced-based knowledge) into the practices of karate. The trilogy is aimed at gathering clinical and university researched data for the 3 pillars of karate, known as shingitai in Japanese. In Western lingo it is called ‘mind, body & spirit’ (direct translation: mind - shin/kokoro, technique gi/waza and body - tai/karada). In this context of shingitai, ‘body’ may encompass both technique and health.


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