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David Yap
10-02-2007, 02:11 PM
Hi all,

I like to direct your attention to this article written by Gaku Homma sensei.

The link: http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/07/no_suwariwaza/no_suwariwaza.html

Well, Homma sensei has given us some insights on the practice of suwariwaza techniques but I do find that suwariwaza techniques are essentially important to our aikido practice; especially on the training of body (legs and arms) co-ordination and sense of balance is concerned.

I would like to hear your views on this - should we do away with suwariwaza techniques?

Regards

David Y

MM
10-02-2007, 02:17 PM
I particularly liked this excerpt:


There are not ANY Aikido techniques that truly, physically force a person to fly into a break roll, even without any resistance. The true reality is that ukemi in our Aikido practice is a partnership.


EDIT: As for suwariwaza, what I took from the article wasn't to stop doing it. Rather to understand that it requires some body conditioning before attempting it. Suwariwaza is not that conditioning, either. Everything in moderation.

Flintstone
10-02-2007, 02:24 PM
I particularly liked this excerpt:
There are not ANY Aikido techniques that truly, physically force a person to fly into a break roll, even without any resistance. The true reality is that ukemi in our Aikido practice is a partnership.


Uh? Me understand not. What about, for example, kaiten nage?

Demetrio Cereijo
10-02-2007, 02:45 PM
Liked the article, and I agree mostly with Homma Sensei pov about the subject.

Alex,
Put some "aliveness" on your training and you'll understand.

raul rodrigo
10-02-2007, 09:13 PM
I think the senior shihan that Homma is referring to who changed his suburi and his kokyunage is Saito Morihiro. I didn't know that the reason for the change was the deterioration of his knees.

Mark Uttech
10-02-2007, 09:29 PM
No! We should not neglect suwariwaza. Hikisutchi Shihan taught suwari waza technique well into his 80's.

In gassho

Mark

Jonathan
10-02-2007, 09:33 PM
I have my students practice about 10 minutes of suwari waza every class. A little bit of suwari waza every day seems to work quite well in developing skill in kneeling techniques without causing injury. We never practice suwari waza for an entire class. I also encourage all of my students to wear knee pads for suwari waza training. So far, so good.

happysod
10-03-2007, 04:04 AM
should we do away with suwariwaza techniquesOh please yes - OK, I admit suwariwaza practice can have benefits, but I've never been convinced that the benefits outweigh their deficits for most students or that it is the best way to teach hip movement and balance.

Yes, it's one way to isolate an area which is hard to make distinct while standing, but my experience is that its not only normally taught quite poorly, but all the sinking, moving from one point etc. etc. go out the window as most students concentrate on not moving like a duck and ignoring the strange burning sensation from their knees and tops of their toes.

We've probably all had the double-jointed sensei from hell with kneecaps the size and hardness of bowling balls to whom kneeling and doing suwariwaza all day is just a brisk walk but seriously, can anyone who has done a lot of suwariwaza truely say they learned more from that than a normal stand-up session?

I also found the article very interesting that suwariwaza was used to "level the playing field" with larger students, smacks a bit of the "lava and glass" argument used against BJJ.

What about, for example, kaiten nage?disagree -even with kaiten nage you can normally accept the fall easier with a standard breakfall rather than a rolling breakfall. I have to agree with the article in that I would normally have to co-operate in taking a rolling breakfall - which I do cos they're fun. [waits eagerly for the obligatory "if sensei x got hold of you you'd have to roll as (s)he throws people 10 feet at least, with just their little finger"]

eyrie
10-03-2007, 04:35 AM
I think the overriding principle should be one of training safety first, and that training methods and techniques should be adapted - commensurate with the participant's abilities (or disabilities).

That said, suwari waza has its place in the overall training method. But it is just one method, which, with a little creativity, can be adapted or supplanted by other training methods, to convey the same general basic principles.

Alex Megann
10-03-2007, 10:39 AM
I think the senior shihan that Homma is referring to who changed his suburi and his kokyunage is Saito Morihiro. I didn't know that the reason for the change was the deterioration of his knees.

Yes, Saito Sensei was my first thought too. I have noticed changes in how Saito moved as he got older (his kamae was originally much more like the "standard" Aikikai one).

The really strange thing for me is the way so many people in the "Iwama Ryu" tradition, having swallowed the line that "this is EXACTLY how O-Sensei practised", copy Saito's posture even though their bodies are healthy...

Alex

gregstec
10-03-2007, 12:24 PM
Interesting article that depicts a very pragmatic view of the evolution of Aikido practice outside of Japan. I agree that early Japanese students of Aikido were much more capable of handling suwari waza due to other life style conditioning then the more modern Aikido students both in and outside Japan.

In our small independent dojo our youngest member is in his late 40's and the oldest in his late 50's. We all have issues with doing any extensive 'on-the-knee' movements as well as high breakfalls. Since our focus is on the aiki principles and their relation to energies within movement, we have found there really is no need to subject our bodies to the physical abuses associated with suwari waza and hard breakfalls - once the attacking energies of Uke are received and blended within the sphere of Nage's control, the technique is essentially over because it is obvious to both Nage and Uke that the attack has failed and that Nage is now in control of Uke's destiny. For training purposes, this is all that is required to understand the technique principles. Granted, the capability of performing suwari waza and taking hard breakfalls is very beneficial, but it does not have to be performed extensively to the point it causes medical problems.

Greg

raul rodrigo
10-04-2007, 01:53 AM
Yes, Saito Sensei was my first thought too. I have noticed changes in how Saito moved as he got older (his kamae was originally much more like the "standard" Aikikai one).

The really strange thing for me is the way so many people in the "Iwama Ryu" tradition, having swallowed the line that "this is EXACTLY how O-Sensei practised", copy Saito's posture even though their bodies are healthy...

Alex

Yeah, I've met a few Iwama diehards who insist that their posture is the only way to do these things. I've shown one of them some photos that demonstrate that Saito had a very different kamae, very Aikikai, in the 1960s and 1970s, but they still refuse to concede the point.

I think the other shihan that Homma refers to as having injured his knees and therefore relies almost entirely on hand movement is Tamura.

grondahl
10-04-2007, 01:59 AM
So what you are saying is that the wide hanmi that Saito used in the 70s are "very aikikai" and the more narrow hanmi of later date are not?

raul rodrigo
10-04-2007, 02:31 AM
So what you are saying is that the wide hanmi that Saito used in the 70s are "very aikikai" and the more narrow hanmi of later date are not?

The wider hanmi he used then were standard, more or less, for the Aikikai. Then the stance started to become narrower and yes, to my knowledge, that is not at all common, outside of the Iwama lineage. (I tried to adopt it in a Hitohiro Saito seminar and it made my lower back ache.) You would disagree?

R

grondahl
10-04-2007, 02:49 AM
The majority of swedish aikikai that I have seen uses a rather high stance (probably due to a heavy Kobayashi and Nishio-influence) so I´m mostly curious about the mainstream aikikai-thing.

On the technical side: I find that the extended back leg of the old Iwama kamae (like Tomita sensei)leg really doesn´t give you more stability, and the more narrow stance (but not as narrow as H) gives you both stability and is easy to move from. So in a typical swedish fashion I go with the middleroad between extremes ;)

Dazzler
10-04-2007, 06:16 AM
Ok - had another read of this article.

Have to say based upon his writing and some film I've seen of him I'm quite a fan of Gakku Homma and would like to practice with him one day.

He's coming to Ireland soon I think but its a bit far for me.

I'm also a big fan of Suwari waza...It doesn't hurt my knees and on a good tatami I can happily practice all day.

I do have bad knees...but this is down to football and they were knackered long before I started aiki.

So I'll point out that Homma Sensei talks about "over practice".

Straight away I'll say this makes the theme of this irrelevant to my dojo and parent organisation..

We have instructors who are also qualified coaches, they are aware of the body and of dangerous practice and we simply don't do shed loads of suwariwaza or hamni handachi waza either.

Occasionally we have a good old session - I know I do and everyone who knows Sensei Bernard Harding - 6th dan (the nimble kneed ninja from neath) knows he'll do it too.

But then we'll leave it out for a while. So you don't get repeated strain on the same area.

Common sense I feel.

We apply the same common sense to anyone with an injury - we have coaches that been taught to modify classes to enable those with disabilities (or whatever the PC term is) to participate so getting the same people to practice standing up is not exactly stretching mental capacity of Instructors.

The culture of Sensei being a god and everyone else desperately trying to emulate them doesn't exist for us.

We don't make anyone sit in Seiza through another’s grading, we sit comfortably, if it’s cold we'll put a top on, whatever, but we are aware of the students needs and still maintain a correct and respectful atmosphere without making anyone suffer.

This application of common sense makes it much harder for anyone to be abused and made to wait in pain for their grading. I'm not denying it may have happened elsewhere the past, although I don't know for sure, but it doesn't happen in the NAF.

Interesting comments on instructors that adapted techniques to cater for injury - Our own Pierre Chassange has a knee injury on one side reputedly from the war, so he tended not to kneel on it, maybe we copied this sometimes too.

I'd suggest it’s a strong argument for constantly looking at everything with beginner’s eyes and not blindly accepting too much.

I can guess who it is, but does that make any difference?. It doesn't to me since if its the person I believe it to be then the many positives of his work far outweigh any negatives or implicit criticisms I feel.

Unless its me then I demand satisfaction Mister Homma :)

Also interesting comments about uke in partnership. I tend to agree, it’s all partnership if you are working together to unify mind body and ki.

If it’s not partnership and you fight, then it’s just a fight and you develop other skills but for me you don’t develop ki.

Bottom line - I'm a fan of Gakku Homma and also Suwari Waza, Hamni Handachi Waza, Aikido weapons training, Ki development and everything else.

You can practice aikido without suwari waza, without hamni handachi waza or without weapons but in doing so deprive your class of a range of interesting and challenging opportunities.

Moderation is the word! for me anyway....

Respectfully

D

Demetrio Cereijo
10-04-2007, 06:38 AM
The wider hanmi he used then were standard, more or less, for the Aikikai. Then the stance started to become narrower and yes, to my knowledge, that is not at all common, outside of the Iwama lineage. (I tried to adopt it in a Hitohiro Saito seminar and it made my lower back ache.) You would disagree?

R
Well, there are more Iwama lineage than Saito Hitohiro.

raul rodrigo
10-04-2007, 09:33 AM
Well, there are more Iwama lineage than Saito Hitohiro.

Yes, I know what you mean. But that's not the impression you get when you listen to Hitohiro talk. The lineage is presented as a straight line: Morihei-Morihiro-Hitohiro, with no allowance for variation or changes along the way. And no mention of other senior students at Iwama like Inagaki or Isoyama.

R

G DiPierro
10-04-2007, 03:34 PM
I think the other shihan that Homma refers to as having injured his knees and therefore relies almost entirely on hand movement is Tamura.I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-5lpbm59lI), who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear (http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/fairness.html), of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.

raul rodrigo
10-04-2007, 07:52 PM
I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-5lpbm59lI), who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear (http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/fairness.html), of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.

I see. Thank you.

R

tedehara
10-05-2007, 11:40 AM
I already expressed my opinion here (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13827&postcount=18).

That post came from this Oldies (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1305&highlight=swariwaza+swari+waza) thread from 2001.

"Recycling old threads to conserve server space" ;)

David Yap
10-06-2007, 10:41 PM
Done my first iaido lesson yesterday and my left knee still hurts like hell. Thought that with my suwariwaza experience, the drawing of the sword from a kneeling position would be painless. Wrong thought, perhaps at 50 the mind is over adventurous.

In suwariwaza, the body weight is always shifting from one kneel to another and finally returning to the center at the completion of the technique. In the first iaido exercise, my left kneel was always on the ground - appreciate some good advice from the seasoned iaido practitioners.

Thank you.

David Yap
10-06-2007, 10:49 PM
I doubt it. Although Tamura's style can appear magical to those who do not understand it, I don't see how anyone could claim that he is only using his hands. Also, I don't know that Tamura has any injuries, and compared to Homma he is certainly not a "contemporary" instructor.

I suspect he is most likely talking about Ikeda (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-5lpbm59lI), who has knee problems so bad that he no longer even sits for the opening and closing bows. Homma has also been critical of Ikeda before (again not by name, but on more than one occasion he has criticized people who sell designer aikido gear (http://www.nippon-kan.org/senseis_articles/fairness.html), of which Ikeda is a very prominent example). Sounds like there is a bit of bad blood between them. Not too surprising given their proximity and that they are competing for students somewhat.

Guys,

Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.

David Y

G DiPierro
10-06-2007, 11:53 PM
Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.

What specific assumptions do think I have made that were unwarranted or "non-aiki"? Also, what exactly is a "non-aiki" assumption? That sounds like a nonsense expression to me.

Let me remind you that this what Gaku Homma actually wrote:
Some contemporary instructors today use a minimalist technique style that relies mainly on hand movements. To an observer, this technique style might look powerful or mysterious; almost ¡Èmagical.¡É I have heard this style described as wonderfully pure; free of extra movement or excess muscle. Closer to the truth of the origin of this style is that the instructor himself is working within limitations of movement dictated by his own physical injuries.If you think that I am wrong about the instructor Homma was referring to then please explain why. Do you know of any other contemporary instructors who use the kind of minimalist style described above, as I think almost anyone would acknowledge that Ikeda does, and who have the kind of knee injuries Homma is talking about in this article, which Ikeda is commonly known to have (as I pointed out, anybody who has taken a class with him recently would know this, since he does not even sit in seiza for the opening and closing bows)? If you don't have any such knowledge, then perhaps I am not the one making unwarranted assumptions.

raul rodrigo
10-07-2007, 05:34 AM
Guys,

Think you guys are off topic and are making too many non-aiki and unwarranted assumptions.

David Y

How is it off topic to identify the specific shihan being referred to? I mentioned Saito because Homma's column makes more sense if you know he is referring to.

I don't know if there is, as Giancarlo reports, bad blood between Ikeda and Homma. But it is relevant to know if Homma is referring to Ikeda, because the young Ikeda had perhaps the fastest suwariwaza I had ever seen on video. I used to watch him and think, "boy, I wish I could do that." But knowing what we know now, then I can look at his suwariwaza video with a new perspective. Perhaps, as Homma says, that kind of skill comes with a price we might not want to pay.

RAUL

G DiPierro
10-07-2007, 06:29 AM
I don't know if there is, as Giancarlo reports, bad blood between Ikeda and Homma.Although I have no personal knowledge of any bad feelings between those two, there have been a few credible reports (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5316) (see post 16 specifically) that they exist. What I know from personal experience, having trained with both of them, is that they are both strong personalities with very different approaches to aikido operating in close proximity. Knowing what I know about aikido politics, where sometimes there are two dojos in the same city that are part of the same organization that are not on good terms with each other, I don't find it at all surprising that would be some issues between these two. I would be more surprised if they were on good terms given how different their personalities are.

Mark Uttech
10-07-2007, 06:41 AM
When I first posted on this thread, I did so without having read the article. Now, having read the article, I stand by my first post. Those concerned about knee injuries should check out a study done by Janet Rosen that did a survey of 100 dojos. I think that study can be found on aikiweb somewhere. One bit of information that I have discovered in my own experience is that a softer mat is actually more damaging to knees than a mat more firm.

In gassho,

Mark

raul rodrigo
10-07-2007, 07:09 AM
One bit of information that I have discovered in my own experience is that a softer mat is actually more damaging to knees than a mat more firm.

In gassho,

Mark

Let me just back up Mark's observation (which would have seemed strange to me a year ago) with the experience of one of my kohai, whose knees are fine on rice straw mats, but suffer when we practice on mats made of insulating foam. He says it has something to do with the way the foam conforms to the contours of his knee; it seems to exert greater pressure, at least for him. Just this week his knee gave out and he's been unable to do suwariwaza for the last few days. Any idea why a soft mat can cause more damage?

R

gdandscompserv
10-07-2007, 11:57 AM
One bit of information that I have discovered in my own experience is that a softer mat is actually more damaging to knees than a mat more firm.
I have come to a similar conclusion.

David Yap
10-07-2007, 12:51 PM
What specific assumptions do think I have made that were unwarranted or "non-aiki"? Also, what exactly is a "non-aiki" assumption? That sounds like a nonsense expression to me.

Let me remind you that this what Gaku Homma actually wrote:
If you think that I am wrong about the instructor Homma was referring to then please explain why. Do you know of any other contemporary instructors who use the kind of minimalist style described above, as I think almost anyone would acknowledge that Ikeda does, and who have the kind of knee injuries Homma is talking about in this article, which Ikeda is commonly known to have (as I pointed out, anybody who has taken a class with him recently would know this, since he does not even sit in seiza for the opening and closing bows)? If you don't have any such knowledge, then perhaps I am not the one making unwarranted assumptions.

Have a break, get a Kit Kat:D I am too far away from the other side of the globe to be aware of these circumstances and political differences. Even if I do, I wouldn't partake in such "gossips".

Cheers

David

David Yap
10-07-2007, 01:00 PM
How is it off topic to identify the specific shihan being referred to? I mentioned Saito because Homma's column makes more sense if you know he is referring to.

I don't know if there is, as Giancarlo reports, bad blood between Ikeda and Homma. But it is relevant to know if Homma is referring to Ikeda, because the young Ikeda had perhaps the fastest suwariwaza I had ever seen on video. I used to watch him and think, "boy, I wish I could do that." But knowing what we know now, then I can look at his suwariwaza video with a new perspective. Perhaps, as Homma says, that kind of skill comes with a price we might not want to pay.

RAUL

Looking forward to see you at Yamada shihan's 2007 seminar in Manila. Please send my regards to Giovanni sensei.

Cheers.

raul rodrigo
10-07-2007, 05:09 PM
Looking forward to see you at Yamada shihan's 2007 seminar in Manila. Please send my regards to Giovanni sensei.

Cheers.

Good to know that you will be there. I will pass on your greetings to Giovanni, who founded the dojo I now run. See you in November.

best,

R

tedehara
10-07-2007, 06:37 PM
...Any idea why a soft mat can cause more damage?

RIf you've ever worked out on wrestling mats you'd know why. The foam is constructed to provide leverage for techniques. Therefore the feet sink into the foam. The same would apply to knees if doing swariwaza. There is more friction on the body and more chance for injury.

David Humm
10-11-2007, 09:26 AM
Done my first iaido lesson yesterday and my left knee still hurts like hell. Thought that with my suwariwaza experience, the drawing of the sword from a kneeling position would be painless. Wrong thought, perhaps at 50 the mind is over adventurous..Iaido should ideally be studied on a hard floor rather than on mats and, it is perfectly acceptable to wear knee pads when doing so.

I study Iai as an integral part of my aikido and iai is always done on a hard wooden floor, knee pads (for me) entirely irradiate any knee issues.

Even if you're iai is done on tatami, still wear the knee pads.

Bronson
10-11-2007, 11:12 AM
knee pads (for me) entirely irradiate any knee issues.
:confused: :eek:

Bronson

Rocky Izumi
10-11-2007, 01:47 PM
In the first iaido exercise, my left kneel was always on the ground - appreciate some good advice from the seasoned iaido practitioners.

Thank you.

Depends on what is causing the pain. It can result from several different causes depending on how you are doing your kamae for your nuki.

Some people I know use knee pads. Others swear that all that pain is due to incorrect posture. Others say due to the floor being too soft. Others say due to the floor being too hard. Others say problem is the slippage of synthetic hakama on hardwood flooring and bunching of synthetic hakama under the meniscus of the knee when kneeling. Others say kamae is not high enough and others say kamae is too low.

Me, I wear cotton hakama on hardwood because soft floors give me knee problems. I take a relatively low kamae to keep bone on the floor rather than exposing the meniscus under the patella. Then, switch to a high kamae so that I only expose the meniscus for a short time. I also watch that I stay on my toes so that I do not expose the meniscus again. I also make sure that my weight is on my front foot when kneeling for Ipponme. Putting weight on the back knee also exposes the meniscus to damage and is improper posture anyway. I try to make sure that I am balanced so I do not put lateral pressure on the knee. This means that I must make sure that the heel of my front foot is in line with the heel of my back kneeling foot. Last, when I am starting to stand, I make sure that my knees are facing forward and my heels go down to the ground during that part where my knees are weakest to reduce the pressures on the knee just as I would use my legs overall in a "clean-and-jerk".

However, it still hurts my knees after a long practice due to loss of cartilage along my knee. I don't think that can be helped except for knee joint replacement.

Rock

ChrisMoses
10-11-2007, 02:17 PM
I study Iai as an integral part of my aikido and iai is always done on a hard wooden floor, knee pads (for me) entirely irradiate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irradiate) any knee issues.

Wow, impressive! ;)

I use kneepads whenever I do Iai on hardwood, but I don't like to. They put too much weight on the tops of my feet. My favorite surface to do iai (or nagewaza for that matter) is Zebra/vinyl tatami on a hardwood floor. You don't sink into the foam, you get a stable grip on the floor, but you get just enough give. My line of iai does a lot of jumping/dropping movements though, so a little padding is way nice.

David Humm
10-11-2007, 04:16 PM
lol... my bad...

http://www.annotatedmst.com/episodes/masterninja1/homer%20simpson.jpg

David Yap
10-11-2007, 10:13 PM
Depends on what is causing the pain. It can result from several different causes depending on how you are doing your kamae for your nuki.

Some people I know use knee pads. Others swear that all that pain is due to incorrect posture. Others say due to the floor being too soft. Others say due to the floor being too hard. Others say problem is the slippage of synthetic hakama on hardwood flooring and bunching of synthetic hakama under the meniscus of the knee when kneeling. Others say kamae is not high enough and others say kamae is too low.

Me, I wear cotton hakama on hardwood because soft floors give me knee problems. I take a relatively low kamae to keep bone on the floor rather than exposing the meniscus under the patella. Then, switch to a high kamae so that I only expose the meniscus for a short time. I also watch that I stay on my toes so that I do not expose the meniscus again. I also make sure that my weight is on my front foot when kneeling for Ipponme. Putting weight on the back knee also exposes the meniscus to damage and is improper posture anyway. I try to make sure that I am balanced so I do not put lateral pressure on the knee. This means that I must make sure that the heel of my front foot is in line with the heel of my back kneeling foot. Last, when I am starting to stand, I make sure that my knees are facing forward and my heels go down to the ground during that part where my knees are weakest to reduce the pressures on the knee just as I would use my legs overall in a "clean-and-jerk".

However, it still hurts my knees after a long practice due to loss of cartilage along my knee. I don't think that can be helped except for knee joint replacement.

Rock

Thank you sensei,

I believe I am putting too much weight on my rear knee when I draw back to jodan kamae after cutting. I will try your suggestions.

Regards

David

Rocky Izumi
10-11-2007, 11:31 PM
Thank you sensei,

I believe I am putting too much weight on my rear knee when I draw back to jodan kamae after cutting. I will try your suggestions.

Regards

David

You are welcome David. BTW, this is not the Dojo so I am just the Rock here. Ah, the equality of the Internet strikes again. :cool:

Also, since you are from Malaysia, do you know Marcus Chan Chee Keong from KL?

Rock

Janet Rosen
10-12-2007, 12:40 AM
HI
for those who didn't know about it...my research was in the form of a survey of 101 dojo, purely gathering info, a snapshot if you will. The link follows...the 2 most interesting things to me were that a small handful of dojos were responsible for a large proportion of the acute knee injuries and that despite many complaints - including MINE - over the yrs about feet sticking to soft mats, there didn't seem to be a correlation btwn wrestling type mats and acute knee injuries.
http://www.zanshinart.com/Aikido/AikiKnee.html

Bronson
10-12-2007, 12:47 AM
I use kneepads whenever I do Iai on hardwood, but I don't like to. They put too much weight on the tops of my feet.

I found the same thing. I looked around on the internet and finally found a pair that were just two layers of neoprene padding over the knee. It provided enough padding to stop the knee pain but didn't have so much that it increased the pressure on the feet.

Bronson

Rocky Izumi
10-12-2007, 01:26 AM
http://www.zanshinart.com/Aikido/AikiKnee.html

Excellent piece of work Janet. Thanks.

Noticed a lot of lateral knee injuries from poor Hanmi Kamae and Tori Fune Kogi Undo and impact trauma injuries from poor Shikko. Been trying to correct those on students to ensure that injuries are minimized. I will send them to your article to emphasize the points. Funny thing though, a lot of my recent knee injuries result from trying to show students how not to do it and why. Surprising how easily the knee can be injured from improper usage. :crazy:

Rock

David Yap
10-12-2007, 04:06 AM
Hi Rock,

You are welcome David. BTW, this is not the Dojo so I am just the Rock here. Ah, the equality of the Internet strikes again. :cool:

Being the typical Asian, politeness just come naturally :)

Also, since you are from Malaysia, do you know Marcus Chan Chee Keong from KL?

Yes, I do know Marcus Chan. He was my instructor 4 years ago. Occasionally, I still go his dojo.

Regards

David

Peter Goldsbury
10-12-2007, 06:52 AM
HI
for those who didn't know about it...my research was in the form of a survey of 101 dojo, purely gathering info, a snapshot if you will. The link follows...the 2 most interesting things to me were that a small handful of dojos were responsible for a large proportion of the acute knee injuries and that despite many complaints - including MINE - over the yrs about feet sticking to soft mats, there didn't seem to be a correlation btwn wrestling type mats and acute knee injuries.
http://www.zanshinart.com/Aikido/AikiKnee.html

Hello Janet,

I have read your article and the 2004 follow-up and think it would be very good to have much more research done on the correlation between mat type and knee injuries.

Apart from the very earliest dojo (at Sussex University in the late 60s / early 70s, if anyone can remember that far back), the mats at pretty well every dojo I myself trained in were traditional Japanese straw tatami, like the ones I have here in my living room (I am not sure about Tenpukan, near Earls Court in the UK, during the mid-70s). Usually they were covered with canvas, but the few knee inujuries that occurred usually came from collisions due to careless ukemi, rather than from twisting the knee joints from taisabaki. The tatami were always very hard and I was always taught that this was best for the knees, though rather painful for the rest of the body until one became accustomed to them. All my teachers were Japanese and 30 minutes of suwari-waza was about the norm for each class.

In Japan, especially in Hiroshima, every dojo where I have ever trained has traditional tatami and I think you need to live here to see how 'normal' this is. For example, every night I roll out my futon in my wooden house and sleep on the tatami. (The floors are sprung and there is a sizable gap between the floor and the ground. The tatami in the bedroom were replaced a few years ago, at a cost of 10,000 yen each. The ones in the living room are becoming faded from the sunlight and so will need to be re-covered in the near future. A craftsman from a local tatami shop will come and do it while I am away.)

When I receive visitors, it is all done in seiza, with zabuton (cushions) available for those who need them. In my experience of 28 years in Japan, no Japanese has ever accepted a cushion when I have remained sitting in seiza on the bare tatami. Perhaps it is a matter of national pride...

The point I am making here is that certain traditional Japanese arts, including budo, and wooden floors covered with tatami go together like two sides of the same coin. I remember my first visit to the Itsukushima Shrine (which is the famous shrine illustrated in all the guidebooks, which you see when arriving in Miyajima by ferry). I watched a series of Noh plays performed on the ancient Noh stage. I had no clue about the plays, but I was struck, forcibly struck, by the elderly ladies who sat in seiza hour after hour and followed the texts in their books. I had been practising aikido for just over 10 years, was a yudansha, and thought I could do seiza and suwariwaza pretty fast and efficiently. But continuous seiza for three hours...? Actually, these ladies sat in a kind of semi-seiza, where the legs were sometimes tucked under the lower body and they shifted their weight from time to time: something you should NEVER do in aikido training sessions when the sensei wants to give a long lecture about the real meaning of aikido...

My own knee injuries were not incurred from the quality of the tatami, but the elderly surgeon who did the operations on the meniscus once told me that I would suffer from arthritis as I got older, and so it has proved. He thought the physiotherapy regime had been far too severe to give the joints time to recover from the operation.

Because of my position in the IAF, I travel abroad fairly regularly and on these occasions also give training courses. After a recent yudansha workshop (the relevant part of which was devoted to a practical application of the principles of aikido randori: see George Ledyard's work on this), my right knee was very heavily swollen and I could not bend it very far. The workshop had been held in a dojo with very soft mats (not wrestling mats), which look like traditional tatami, but are not. And the floor was not sprung.

I am undecided about the quality of these mats, but I can speak from immediate experience when I state that I always have to spend more time recovering from knee strain after giving courses on mats such as these, than I have done from intensive training on traditional Japanese tatami.

However, there are loads of variables here. The training courses I give are fairly intensive, with practice around 4 - 5 hours daily for a continuous period of up to one week. This is somewhat different from the average. So, it would be very good if you did a wider survey relating to training conditions, type of tatami. The USA would be a very good place for such a survey, since there are many Japanese shihans who were brought up in the traditioinal way and so might have opinions on the quality of the tatami in their own dojos.

Now I have found a good doctor of kanpo-yaku and I am following the example of the late Kanai Sensei, with lots of moxibustion, acupuncture on my knees and very severe massage on the rest of my body.

In terms of my awareness of my own body, my knees are back to the state they were in before the intensive workshop training, but I do not know whether this is due to the kanpo-yaku treatment, or to the absence of such intensive training.

Best wishes,

EDIT: So. I think the general conclusions of Gaku Homma in his article are correct. However, as someone who teaches comparative culture, I want to stress the grave dangers of making generalizations about the knees of a particular culture: e.g., 'Japanese' knees are more adapted to suwari-waza than 'western' knees. All knees outside Japan follow a particular pattern of some undetermined kind. Which is why Janets's research is so important.