Modern - ie current - martial arts rely too much on muscular strength. In order to understand what it means, we have to classify martial arts according to the type of power they are primarily based on:
1)muscle based - these martial arts use mostly the strength of muscles
2)tendons based - these martial arts use mostly the elastic strength of the tendons and ligaments (LightLegs)
3)nerve based - these martial arts mostly use the nerve power and internal power.
Which one you study will influence the age at which your martial art will peak.
If you choose a muscle-based martial art, you will peak at about 25 years of age; when the quality of the muscle is the highest. From then on, you will only decline; there is no way your would defeat a 25 years old athlete when you will be 50.
However, if you study tendon-based martial art, the situations is different. Tendons do not degenerate with age as much as do muscles; so it is entirely possible you will be at your 'athletic peak' around 40-45 years of age, defeating younger and 'stronger' (muscularly) opponent.
Like Mestre Bimba, who was 'king of capoeira' at around 40, and still dangerous in his old age; like Cyriaco, who fought in the famous Capoeiragem vs jujutsu match, was 38 at the time. This was not accidental.
Finally, studying nerve-based martial art could mean that you will peak after your 50s, even in 60s. And by 'peak', I mean you will be able to defeat much younger, physically stronger adversaries. Such martial art is a life-long study.
Modern outlook centers entirely on muscle-based martial arts; its idol is the 25 years old muscular athlete. From the modern point of view, after your turn 30, you can only watch your martial art degenerate; you only get slower, weaker and tire more easily. A 50 years old 'master' is only a honorary title in this point of view; there is no way he would defeat his younger students.
But such a martial art is a joke. We can intuitively feel it; we intuitively know that a martial art should to be a lifelong study, not a lifelong way of watching your own decline.
And it can be! But we have to do two things:
First, stop idolizing the muscle-based martial arts (ie sports). Strength that comes from muscles alone has a short shelf life; it is really not worth as much praise and admiration as modern people give it. *)
Second,start looking for higher-level, tendons-based and nerve-based martial arts. These are almost extinct today; but they exist. And at least seaching for them is a lot better way to spend your life than watching your youthful muscle-based skills slowly fade away.
In the case you are wondering: Old capoeiragem was certainly tendon-based; and at its higher level even nerve based to a certain extent.
*)In certain sense, modern people get stuck in their 20's; they idolise the age, its common goals, its way of life("lifestyle") etc. In other words, they are unable to move on with their life; to look for goals appropriate for their age.
Even the phrase 'appropriate for their age' would offend these people(as it sounds as 'worse' to them); they want to act as if they are 20 until they die. Yet, in effect, this means that these people never move on to better things to do. Yes, better, not worse! If you are in your 40s and feel that your life was better when you were 20, it only means there is something seriously wrong with your life (and mind; these go together).
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