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Jack M.
02-27-2008, 09:06 AM
Hi, I plan on observing my first class this Saturday and begin training on Monday, but I am concerned about my overall physical condition.

I am 50 yrs. old, not worried about that, but I am 6'2" and weigh 325lbs., which is considered obese. I plan to exercise outside of the dojo to lose weight and get in better shape, but I am wondering how aikido instructors deal with people like me. What can I expect from now until the time when I achieve some weight loss? Any help is appreciated.

02-27-2008, 09:40 AM
Hi Jack,

Welcome to AikiWeb. I hope your entry into aikido goes well. Please keep us apprised as to your impressions of training.

As to your question, you may want to start a new thread with that topic outside of the Introductions forum.


-- Jun

Jorge Garcia
02-27-2008, 09:42 AM
Hi, I plan on observing my first class this Saturday and begin training on Monday, but I am concerned about my overall physical condition.

I am 50 yrs. old, not worried about that, but I am 6'2" and weigh 325lbs., which is considered obese. I plan to exercise outside of the dojo to lose weight and get in better shape, but I am wondering how aikido instructors deal with people like me. What can I expect from now until the time when I achieve some weight loss? Any help is appreciated.

Jack, I have been both over weight and an Aikido instructor. As a student, I came into Aikido at age 38 and weighing around 223 (actually, I think it was more but I'll go conservative). I lost 53 lbs. in the first year. I changed my diet going to a lower fat, lower caloric intake, substituting many trips to the Japanese restaurant rather than the fast food place and I skipped a lot of late night meals and things went well.
I really had to persevere to stay in Aikido because I struggled like crazy because of my lack of wind and I added running to my exercise regime to be able to stay in Aikido. When the pounds started dropping, I got really motivated. It was the first time since being a teenager that I ever lost any weight. I held that weight until we moved to Houston. The change in lifestyle and the slowness of the dojo practice here plus becoming a teacher (teachers stand around a lot) were the reason I gained 30 lbs. back over a 4 year period. One year ago, I added advanced classes to every day of our schedule and I joined them myself. By cutting back on the late meals and returning to the Japanese diet (now making more of my own food rather than the restaurant), I have lost 30 pounds in 12 months and am working on losing another 20 in the next 12 months. I am at 169 right now and in the best shape of my life at the age of 5I.
I train hard every day and I eat light, healthy food and it's working.
As an instructor, I have seen many big guys that were very heavy and it always amazed me how well they could move. I have always thought they just gave up too soon. I would say don't be intimidated and go for it. Do all you can in Aikido and take care of yourself but don't limit yourself like I see many big guys doing. You can do what everyone else is doing, even if it's modified and you can accomplish your goals in learning Aikido and getting yourself in great shape. It is a daily walk and one that requires the perseverance of a bulldog.
I wish you the best. I have been there and I know the agony of the trip uphill but I am a living witness that you can make it. Just don't give up. If you have a good instructor, he will help you and give you modified ways to do things. Everything will hurt (not too much but you will be sore) but there is a difference between pain and injury. Go slow but keep going and don't baby yourself too much. Expect that this will be plenty tough and that you will have to pass many barriers but know that if you do, you won't be sorry.
best always,

"The heights by great men reached and kept
were not obtained by sudden flight,
but they while their companions slept,
were toiling upward in the night."
H. W. Longfellow

Jack M.
02-27-2008, 10:27 AM
Jun, thanks for the welcome. I will also post this in Introductions.

Jorge, thank you for the encouragement. I am ready to begin and to do my best no matter what!

02-27-2008, 10:39 AM
Hi Jack,

My mistake; I had thought this thread was originally posted in the Introductions forum.

-- Jun

02-27-2008, 11:35 AM
Hey Jack,
Nice to hear from you. Personally I love having "big" guys like you in the dojo. Keeps my technique honest.:D

02-27-2008, 11:49 AM
As a big guy, welcome.
Expect frustration and the opportunity to practice patience.
Of course, that has nothing to do with size or age.

02-27-2008, 01:04 PM
In one of Dave Lowry's books (excellent author, look him up if you haven't already) he mentions that for most martial arts, as long as you are fit enough to enter the dojo under your own power you are probably fit enough to begin training.

He makes another excellent point in reminding us that everyone in the dojo has difficulties and limitations. For you (and me BTW) it's weight. For the woman next you it's bad knees, for the guy a couple places down it's a bad shoulder. We all train with our limitations and learn to work with and around them. He also cautions us not to think ours is worse than anybody elses.

My two sensei are husband and wife. The husband was one of his wifes main instructors but her techniques, and really everything about her aikido, looks and feels completely different from his. The reason is she had to learn to do things in ways that worked for her. She just wasn't physically able to practice a type of aikido that matched his so they found alternate ways for her to do the techniques. Now, years later, we students get the benefit of learning from two different people in the same dojo with two very different personal styles of performing aikido.

Regardless of any limitation you might have the hardest part is getting on the mat the first time. If you can do that you've gotten over the biggest hurdle and then all you have to do is keep coming back :D

Best wishes,


02-27-2008, 04:12 PM
I'd say go slow on the falling.

I've seen overweight folks come into dojos and go out injured from trying to learn forward rolls. (Mind you, the instructor at that dojo was insistent that everyone learn to forward roll from a standing position the first day.)

Also, falling onto your face, as you will do with IKKYO type techniques (straight arm take-down, as the cops call it, if that means more), will stress your shoulders.

Take care with your pains. Whatever hurts during training is going to hurt lots more after training when your body cools down and whatever adrenaline shots you got during training wear off.

Good luck.

02-27-2008, 06:04 PM
Aikido has many prominent figures who have "prominent figures". And there are many others not so notable who, like myself, are both "horizontally gifted" and "vertically challenged". Stay within yourself, do your best, listen to your body, and don't compete with anybody but yourself. You'll be fine.

Dilip Deodhar
02-27-2008, 06:07 PM
Hi Jack,

Welcome to Aikido! I was a fitness trainer at 24hr fitness for about 4 years. Here is my 2cents worth: (I would like to know more before I suggest a specific course) Assuming you need to loose about 100 pounds at 50 years of age, I would broadly suggest: Safety first.

1. Mind your heart and lungs before you start any sport, including Aikido. Even fast walking could be a big strain on the heart. Slow walk is OK as long as you take a pause whenever you feel out of breath. Have patience, in time you will be able to do everything you want. You can also start start stretching exercises. Increase the physical exertion progressively as your extra body fat goes down.
2. Safe rate of body fat loss is 1-2 pounds per week on an average. Faster than that could be unhealthy. So 100 pounds will take about a year.
3. Food will be the key. Specially in the beginning, you won't be able to burn body fat through exercise. I do not recommend any of the fad diet programs. Instead, you can consult a nutritionist. Follow the common sense. Give your body only what it needs to go through the day but nothing more.
4. If the Aikido dojo does not mind, you can visit say every week and watch the sessions. It will keep up your motivation. I am sure, all Aikidoka will give you encouragement. You can also learn a lot. If I remember right Gracie Jiu-Jitsu legend Helio watched from the sideline for quite some time before he started practicing and eventually became the top expert.

02-27-2008, 09:20 PM
Aikido will be the beginning of an active lifestyle for yourself. It was for me over eight years ago when I first started. I was a 5'5" at over 200 pound (I never knew my exact highest weight though.). Now I'm 175 pounds.

When I first started I went at my own pace and took breaks when necessary. Now, looking back I don't have to take those breaks anymore, and I can train at a level along with everyone else.

I agree with Don, take it easy on the ukemi until you get some of your weight down. Twenty pounds will make a big difference for you, especially when it comes to ukemi. I know it did for me. I agree also with others to not compare yourself with others. You will learn to roll and eventually breakfall, but please be patient with your body and allow yourself time to learn it. You WILL learn it.

But make sure you train. Start an active lifestyle, now. Your new life begins, now. It is a journey and take one day at a time. Gradual changes helped me. I've been changing different things regarding my eating and my health for the past 8 years - starting aikido, working out in addition to aikido, changing eating habits -- and biggest of all letting go of the guilt when I make a slip up.

It took a long time to get to where we were and it will take an assertive but consistent effort to get to where we want to go - both in health and aikido.

Jack M.
02-28-2008, 06:12 AM
Thanks very much to all for your wisdom and support. It is much appreciated and I will take it to heart.

Chris Lacey
03-04-2008, 01:11 PM
Hey Jack!

I am right there with you. I am 6 foot and 235 pounds when I started three months ago. I had quite the Buddha belly, and I still do to a degree. My friend started about a week after me. He is 6 foot 2 and about 250.

Both of us are out of shape....a lot.

Eating healthy is always a good idea. And I have started more towards chicken an rice and fish, but I still Love a big Double cheeseburger and a Pint of Guinness. :rolleyes: The fun part about this story is that we have both become more limber and I can actually grab my calves now when I stretch! WHOHOO! :D

My buddy is always commenting how much more energy he has after 2 hours of training and I can personally attest to that as well.

It will not be easy, but it will be fun. We draw a crowd at the dojo window when one of the students in the dojo (She is about 120 and 5 foot 4inches) lets us play uke for her.

The whole point is for you to know that there are others who share the same reservations that you may have had. What does the Sensei say about your concerns, what are his/her attitudes. Are they willing to help you accomplish your goals?

Try (I know it's difficult) to not be self conscious but be frank about what you want to accomplish. Communication is the key...

Since I started three months ago (attending about 3 times a week for 2 hours per class) I have dropped 5 pounds but I am building muscle and loosing fat. Keep track by using a system like BMI (Body Mass Index) or something similar...don't gauge by weight alone.

You get out of it what you put it.... :D

Good luck and let us know how it is going!