View Full Version : Throwing in the towel?

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05-20-2006, 09:02 PM
I need some advice. I've been studying aikido for 7 months and seems I am always getting hurt. First my shoulder from the rolls, well I can
understand that but then I poped something in my elbow. Now I am afraid to do a technique becuase of hurting it again. Now it is my knee. I love the art but tired of pain.. I am 39 and understand it could be my age but I dont want to give up but I am really tired of pain. I feel no pain no gain but this is starting to make me think and it will make it hard for me to quit but I am thinking about it. Because of this pain... Please reply

05-20-2006, 10:02 PM
If you love aikido, don't stop doing it. Maybe set up an understanding with your training partners that you and they need to be careful with you until you progress a bit more. Also, you could speak with your instructor(s) about the situation. You may be doing some things that are causing your injuries. Your instructor(s) might be able to keep an eye on you a bit more to see what might be the cause(s) of your injuries.

Also, I don't know what your training environment is like. Some dojo have more resistance, which can often lead to more frequent injuries. Some dojo are incredibly safety-conscious, even when practicing in a martial way.

If you think your injuries may have something to do with the training environment, I'd recommend looking at other dojo (if there are any others you like in your area).

Keep in mind that your training is about you. If a dojo is too "rough," find a different one. If your training partners are a bunch of spirited young bucks, remind them that you're not as young as they are.

Jerry Miller
05-20-2006, 10:47 PM
First off many (including me) on this board are older than you. You have to go at your own pace on many things at first. I believe you are at the University of North Florida campus and so will have many younger people in class. They are USAF affiliated and should have a solid curriculum. As you get older you just do not bounce as well as when you were younger. Until things get smooth take it easy and try to stay within your limits. Put off dropping it for a while and see if it gets any smoother for you.

05-21-2006, 08:16 AM
Hi Jerry,
I am studying at the www.aikido0fjacksonville.com I honestly think that I am working my body without any fear until it hurts. Sound crazy but I act like I am 25 and feel I can run 50 miles. I have my mind set I am going to be successful with this sport but I am impassionate. Which this may result in aches and pains. The students have great understanding with any injuries and I am not the oldest, I'd say the average is 26 still young for me but any I am going to succeed and ty for replying.

05-21-2006, 09:29 AM
Working your body till it hurts? Good way to get injured in aikido.
I am 50, have been training since 2002, dislocated my shoulder in my second class, didn't quit, and am happily breakfalling today.
And I always tap out before it hurts.
Of course, I'm a girl.( yes, that was sarcasm)

Beard of Chuck Norris
05-21-2006, 09:38 AM
First of all, i am still a relative novice at aikido, but an expert at hurting myself!

Several years ago I popped my knee out a couple of times, both knees like. I still wince when i think about it or see people get similar injuries.

The most common injury in aikido is in the knees, as i have been informed. As such I am always extra cautious when performing tenkans with people. I think my knees are stronger than they were then but i still get aches after every session. Put that together with the pure strain from kendo means that i have about 2 days a week of pain-free knees!

It may sound obvious but a simple elasticated knee brace does wonders for me, it might work for you too! as for the other injuries, well; just recently my elbow has been playing up, learning gokyo you see. I just relax my arm fully, which was hard to do at first because it felt like something was definately gonna give!!

Have you tried using your arms when you do forward rolls? I always do, save the shoulder possibly hitting the mat before the roll. It also makes it easier!! Also, there is no need to launch yourself into a roll either. Alternatively, take an extra step and do a backwards roll.

Keep at it and don't lose heart!

chris w
05-21-2006, 09:47 AM
i find that daily streching and a little bit of weight training(high reps-not a lot of weight) help to keep me feeling solid and healthy. i think that if you do something physically challenging like aikido, you have to maintain your body on a daily basis to help prevent injuries.

early rub up
05-21-2006, 10:56 AM
yep being the wrong side of 30 dosnt help i would agree with chris willenbacher gentle streching will help alot being 37 myself and training for 20years i do notice a differance and find if i dont strech and warm up first i ache after

Fred L
05-21-2006, 12:12 PM
I'm 45 and have been taking aikido for almost 4 years. I also had a number of injuries initially. I think that it's a combination of inexperience and age. Now, I don't get injured (much). It's a combination of better ukemi and realizing that there are some things that are better to opt out of if I want to keep taking aikido. There is no loss of face in walking out of a technique or doing a backfall instead of a breakfall. Just keep nage up to date on what you plan to do and you'll be fine. Don't give up!


Chris Li
05-21-2006, 10:29 PM
I need some advice. I've been studying aikido for 7 months and seems I am always getting hurt. First my shoulder from the rolls, well I can
understand that but then I poped something in my elbow. Now I am afraid to do a technique becuase of hurting it again. Now it is my knee. I love the art but tired of pain.. I am 39 and understand it could be my age but I dont want to give up but I am really tired of pain. I feel no pain no gain but this is starting to make me think and it will make it hard for me to quit but I am thinking about it. Because of this pain... Please reply

I teach someone regularly who's 83, don't worry about your age.

Any kind of physical activity requires that you condition you body to be able to withstand the rigors of that activity, and the level of stress that you intend to apply during that activity. If some parts of your body can't take the stress that's being applied you can either practice more softly or (my recommendation) exercise your body with specific work targeted at strengthening the parts of your body that are giving you problems. I would give it some time - if you were starting long-distance running I would say that it would take at least a year of regular conditioning to get your body to a reasonable level, Aikido certainly isn't any easier.



Janet Rosen
05-22-2006, 11:04 AM
Hi Jerry,
I have my mind set I am going to be successful with this sport but I am impassionate.

well that may be the problem right there
it is not something one is "successful at" in the sense of a "sport".
can you envision it less as golf or football and more as doing tai chi w/ a partner?

05-22-2006, 11:07 AM
David Schropp said feel no pain no gain but this is starting to make me think

Welcome to middle age! Welcome to the beginning of learning. If it hurts DON'T DO IT.

You now have all you need to become a master.


05-22-2006, 11:13 AM
I understand completely. I wish that I could say that after a few more months that you won't get hurt again but it would be a lie. What I can say is that when they seem to come in spurts like you have been experiencing it's been because I've come back too quickly from an injury. You tend to overcompensate for the problem you're having and that causes some other injury which leads to another, etc. I hope you stick with it!

Leslie Leoni
05-22-2006, 02:53 PM
Having only been in Aikido since April, I can sympathize with you. I sprained my shoulder during my fifth class, from a forward roll gone wrong! Perhaps it's the technique you are using that is causing the injuries? Don't quit if you love Aikido, just change the way execute the techniques! In the dojo I attend, if it hurts too much - your technique is wrong! (doesn't mean that there isn't pain - it just shouldn't be excruciating!) Good Luck and I hope you don't Quit!

Ron Tisdale
05-22-2006, 03:11 PM
I've been training regularly about 10 years, and I'll be 45 in July. I finally came to the realization that I now have to work out outside of aikido to keep my body going. While the training regime where I practice aikido is rigorous, I would not consider it unsafe. But I do train differently now than I did when I was younger. I have found that 3 months or so of active yoga once a week has improved my ability to handle the stress of aikido training. It is a combination of ashtanga and bikkram yoga, and has particularly helped my arthritic shoulder and knee, as well as sped up the recovery from some tendon problems in both shoulders. I think twice a week would be better, but once is all I can fit in right now.

Many of the people I know who are older that train also train outside of aikido...whether it is running, weight lifting, yoga, pilates or whatever.

Good luck, keep going, but take care of your body.


05-28-2006, 10:26 AM
My rolling on the right side was so bad that my shoulder started hurting. Then I decided to pay more attention to my rolls and do them allot slower. I also ordered a DVD about ukemi (ukemi from the ground up), after reading good reviews about it. I find that watching videos and learning various ways to roll help me improve faster than just rolling badly until I learn through pain.
And ofcourse, you can always stay after class and talk to your teacher about what's wrong with your rolling.

I think that if you learn to fall safely, there's no reason why Aikido will be unsafe for you.

05-29-2006, 07:08 AM
The start of aikido is VERY difficult, often due to the rolls. Take it slower and be kind to yourself. Loose any (excess) weight and try to do things more gently. Talk to your sensei and he will (should) watch out for you if the others aren't doing so.

I'm still the tender age of 34 but I've seen enough injuries to know that just plowing ahead will only lead to more injuries and being dispirited. Injuries should be unfortunate and rare events, not a regular part of practise. I have a sensei that whenever you ask him any question he pretty much replies with 'you just have to adapt yourself'. Annoying eh?! ;)


Larry John
05-29-2006, 09:44 AM

I'm 51 and have been training steadily for just over five years. In that time, I've dislocated toes, inflamed cartilage in both knees, and torn the TFCC tendon in one wrist and a medial hamstring.

I'm still training hard.

There was one common factor in all of these injuries--how I moved, both physically and mentally. I talked with my sensei about each injury and he helped my figure out how to prevent it in the future.

The toes get caught in seams in the mat (we have zebra mats--you might not). The proximal cause is lack of awareness of how high my feet are above the mat. Now I try to pick my feet up just a smidge higher all the time.

The knees were caused by pivoting on the ball of my foot on a weighted leg. Now I pivot by first turning the toe of my pivot foot in the direction I want to go, then placing it on the mat heel first, and executing the pivot on my heel. It felt weird at first, but it has made all the difference for my knees, and my balance is actually better than it had been.

The wrist was a case of getting behind on ukemi for kotegaeshi. I made a very committed attack and my partner smoothly got his hip into the throw and, because I had over committed, I just wasn't responsive enough, so the tendon tore. I've got a lot of work to do on the appropriate level of commitment to put into my attacks--I'm usually over doing it.

The hamstring was a case of stubbornness. Weighing 185, I had made up my mind that I was going to throw my 220 pound partner over my shoulder. He sat his weight back a bit, but I persisted and muscled him up. The hammy went and so did I--straight down.

Moral of the story for you? Talk to sensei about why you're getting hurt. You might be doing something that's contributing to your run of bad luck, and he can explain how to fix it--or you might not be the causal factor, and he may wish to have a talk with the rest of the membership about how precious training partners are and how it's everyone's responsibility to make sure our partners don't get hurt. Partners are like trees--they're renewable resources, but only in the long term, so we need to protect and nurture the ones we have.

05-29-2006, 11:36 AM
I've been training 12 or 13 years, and had many of the same experiences. After about 3 years, I discovered two different kinds of pain -- the "good" kind (like receiving yonkyo) and the "bad" kind (hyperextending the elbow in ikkyo). One makes you stronger, the other weaker. I learned to be light when receiving certain techniques that can damage, and to be a bit heavier when receiving others that can make you stronger.
Keep training, communicate to your nage, and don't resist before you can take it. Do lots of ukemi on your own and talk to the sensei about it.

05-29-2006, 11:18 PM
The first 3 months are a high risk time for any new aikidoka, particularly anyone male. I do think there is an increasing risk as one ages but not at 39. I restarted at 38. I had taken some aikido in high school, and I retained a very small remembrance of rolling but that is about it.

Learning front rolls is a major hurdle for most people. Most anyone can learn it, but those that quit almost inevitably have "painful" experiences and (assuming they are not real injuries) do not work through them. I have talked with many people, including on this forum about creative ways to teach rolling and have tried just about all of them. Some people have an easier time than others getting it.

Make sure your dojo has a good surface. The mat should provide some give, but not be mushy. I have worked on dojo surfaces that were nothing more than cloth over plywood. Great for hardcore 22 year old males, but not anyone else.

Pay careful attention to how ukemi is taught. There are ways to execute ukemi in most any circumstance that will minimize shock. For the "getting older" aikidoka, learning those ways is important.

I do think that someone who STARTS in the late 40's to ealry 50's faces an addiitonal hurdle to overcome; namely the increasing fear of falling. I have talked about this at length with older practitioners and I think it is a real fear. While I bounce around (I'm 50) I have been doing this for 12 years now. Someone who starts at 50 is going to have an inate fear of falling that is not present in a 20 or 30 something. That must be factored into training.

At 39 I would say, visit other dojo if you can, observe how they teach and especially ukemi. It sounds like you don't want a "dojo from hell" training environment. You will be sore more than once, however, by and large that is all it should be.

I once told my doc that being sore was a state of being for me. Fortunately that has passed.

Take it slow. Don't feel like you have to compete with the younger aikidoka. Besides if you practice slow in the beginning, you will be awesome later. Something few believe, and it generally shows.

05-30-2006, 11:03 PM
If you love aikido do not throw in the towel. Think of the damage to your heart when you are not training. And I mean both in termes of heart disease and lost fulfilment. Injury has plagued me my whole life. I have much satisfaction in the knowledge that I have persevered where others may have given up. It is perhaps one of the greater teachings I have received from my practice so far. Have your injuries looked at by a physiotherapist, and do what they say, donít be silly but keep training. As you improve in your uke, you will relax more and find a lot less stress is put on your body. I kept hurting my shoulder in a forward break fall. Solution, turn up before class and do 50 falls both sides by myself. Long ones, short ones, high ones, low ones. It put me in control and my break falls jumped a year in skill in a matter of weeks. Whatever the problem there is a solution!! Thatís one of the things aikido teaches us after all.

Lyle Bogin
05-31-2006, 07:15 AM
If you are continuously suffering injuries I would pick another type of practice. Injuries to the joints tend to last forever...they go away and come back in a cycle. There are many other arts that have the same grace, depth, etc. as aikido. Don't be afraid to move on :).

06-01-2006, 10:09 AM
Keep training. I am around the same age as you and so is your Sensei. The pain will go away as you get better. Also, the pain will go away as your nage gets better in applying the technique properly. My entire right side is totally injured, yet I keep practicing. Although recently, one of my dojos 6kyu student fixed my right wrist when he applied sankyo. By the way, tell your Sensei I said hello. I know him from college and I met Richard and the other guys during the seminar in April. Had tons of fun and my body was killing me afterwards but I still went to my dojo the following Monday night to practice.