Karate teacher fights for anti-ageist campaign

Sensei Lavender Ralston-Saul, 70

Meet our campaigners who want to change ageist stereotypes: Black belt karate teacher

Black belt Lavender Ralston-Saul, of Chelsea, teaches karate in Battersea and Wandsworth schools five days a week despite having a hip replacement operation in 2010 which left her “hardly able to stand up”, and having undergone spinal fusion to help her keep mobile. The sensei was terrified she would be paralysed if the surgery went wrong — but wanted to risk it in the hope she could continue her active lifestyle. 

New research released today by dating app Lumen reveals that nearly a quarter of over-50s believe they are “living their best lives” in their latter years, with 46 per cent seeing their age as no limit to their love for life and adventure. But 17 per cent said they have experienced being “treated as if they are invisible” — and 14 per cent have been discriminated against because of their age. When the app showed a sample of younger people pictures of Ms Ralston-Saul and others engaging in exciting hobbies or professions, the number of respondents using the term “old” to describe the subject dropped by nine per cent — and they began to use terms such as “fit”. 

The expert, who also began playwriting in her sixties and spends a month directing in Bihar, India, every year, wants to challenge preconceptions that life has to become boring after a certain age — and encourage others to live young. She said: “I’m Incredibly lucky to have found find this career path and thank god I had brilliant surgeons sorting my back and hip. 

“The routine is physically taxing, you have to be able to bend your legs a lot… I know it’s kept me fit and gives me a sense of wellbeing too.

“I do passionately believe that as you get older you realise there is so much life to live and you can’t hang your socks up. I’ve had three retirement parties now but none of them have worked — my first one was in my sixties. I find myself more alive now in many ways than I did when I was younger.”

Article from The Evening Standard

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