In the video below, you will see a brief demonstration from Jhoon Rhee on his 80th birthday. If you aren’t familiar with Jhoon Rhee, he’s known by the martial arts community as the Father of American Taekwondo. He introduced the style to the United States upon his arrival in the 1950s.
As for his birthday demonstration, the video is worthy of a discussion for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is amazing to see an 80 year old man perform at his level. There is no denying his mental acuity and physical ability. He is light years ahead of his peers, not to mention many who are a fraction of his age.
Unfortunately, yet to no surprise, I have seen several comments online about his pushup form. And it is that type of comment that I’ve always struggled to understand. Not only does Jhoon Rhee remain capable at 80 years old, he’s still trying to motivate and inspire others to become more active. Who cares if his technique does not meet your criteria for a perfect pushup? When did pushups become an athletic event that are scored by a panel of judges? If Rhee’s version of a pushup is what helps him remain active, who are we to suggest otherwise?
Shouldn’t we applaud the individual who makes adjustments based on individual factors such as ability? Jhoon Rhee has been involved in martial arts for longer than most of us have been alive. For twenty year old keyboard warriors who’ve never accomplished anything to criticize him is beyond pathetic.
Personally, I’ve never been one to care much about exercise form as long as what you are doing isn’t dangerous and apt to cause injury. Exercise is not an event. We use exercise to feel and/or perform better. If an exercise helps you in either regard, who cares if it is performed according to someone else’s definition of proper form. Speaking for myself, if you perform an exercise differently than me, I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me and I won’t lose sleep over it. I’m just happy that you are doing something. Like it or not, we are still part of the same minority in that we choose to exercise. Rather than fighting with each other about how to perform an exercise, why not focus that energy elsewhere and instead get someone who does nothing to do something.
As I’ve said before (see video below), pick people up rather than putting them down.
Hats off to Jhoon Rhee for continuing to stay active and motivate others at 80+. I hope to someday reach my 80’s and still be able to perform pushups. If I make it to that day, you are welcome to criticize my pushup form as much as you’d like. I just can’t promise that I’ll have enough interest to respond.
“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” – William James