Mexico City Journal
I love jujitsu. And I love Thai kick boxing. I've been doing both since I arrived in Mexico City. My friend F is a purple belt and used to go almost every day. Now F is busy with work, busy with pre-production for his first feature film, and busy with a new girlfriend, so he goes once a week. But I've befriended the instructor and he told me I can come at any time. So I am. I'm trying to go four times a week, two hours each time - one hour of jujitsu and one hour of Thai kick boxing.
I love the dance of the forms; I love the intellectual choices made during a 'fight'; I love the intense skill and discipline. And I'm getting in mad shape.
Speaking of shape, the guys in the class are all in pristine shape, but none of them are close to 5% body fat. A narcissistic and incredibly well-read and intelligent friend of mine pointed out that model-looking guys can get to 5% body fat without too much effort and still be muscular. (Think of any young actor and the way his waist is almost non-existent.) However, once you get close to 30 there's a trade-off: you either build muscle mass and hover around 10 or 15% body fat (picture the actor who played James Bond in the last two films) or you stay really skinny and remain without muscles (think about David Bowie). What that means is that after 30 it's damn hard to get a tiny waist. If you're physically active then the body wants
calories. You can have a V shape and a six pack, but you won't get 22 year old male model waist.
Now I know almost no women care about this type of male narcissism (and neither do most men) but I find it interesting how bodies develop. The guys in the class are at their physical peak, yet most of them have about 10 to 15% body fat (again, they look a lot like the older male action stars); unless they're in their twenties, and then they look like male models (or Bruce Lee). They also range from teens to forties, and another thing I love is that age doesn't matter; only skill. If you are of the same skill, then you are equals. As someone who cherishes meritocracies, I love that. I also love that there's an obvious progression. You gain a belt when you're able to defeat people who wear that belt. Simple. Direct. That's never true with most other skills.
But back to male bodies. I've watched a few fights on TV with the guys from the class and there's an amazing amount of guys who are professional fighters who are in their thirties, which is unheard of in boxing. Yes, the instructor said, because you reach your peak physical speed at around 25, but you don't reach your peak physical strength until you're forty. And of course, your technique constantly improves, so a guy in his thirties, generally, can kick the ass of a guy in his twenties.
Me, I'm getting put in pretzels by guys who are their twenties, and since I'll probably never devote enough time to get great (or even really good) that will probably always continue to happen. But I'm not there to fight. I'm doing it to get in shape, get some new skills, and enjoy myself. And damn, when I get back to New York, I'll look good on the beach. (Even if I'll never again be at 5% body fat).