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Linda Eskin
05-18-2009, 08:52 PM
Greetings, and thank you for reading my introduction.

Some basic basics: I'm a 47 y/o woman in the San Diego area. Horseperson for fun. User experience analyst for a living. 30 lbs overweight. Sturdy and strong, but out of shape. Did a little Tang Soo Do in high school (through the 1st test). Loved it, but went off to college and left it behind.

I recently came to Aikido via a book by Mark Rashid (http://www.markrashid.com/), a gifted horse trainer and author. I had been aware of Aikido before, but his book "Horsemanship Through Life" (http://www.amazon.com/Horsemanship-Through-Life-Mark-Rashid/dp/1555663648/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1242697639&sr=8-1) is what prompted me to begin studying it. I was originally hoping to improve my balance, fitness, awareness, relaxation, and breathing, all of which apply nicely to working with and riding horses.

The universe has been making me work very hard to get started in Aikido! After I decided to check into studying it I hurt my hand. Weeks later got cleared to do stuff. Checked out a dojo, was very impressed, and promptly cought the Worst Cold Ever. 3 weeks later, on May 5th, 2009, feeling good but still unable to speak above a hoarse whisper, I started classes.

Lesson one: Persistance. Rrrr...

I got off to a bit of a rough start, with some muscle spasms after my first class. (Tip, don't start with the longest class your dojo offers, esp. after weeks of being sick. Duh.) I got that cleared up with lots of gentle exercise and was back 4 days later, having a blast, and trying to slurp up information as fast as my brain could absorb it. Things went well for classes 2 and 3, and then in my 4th class I demonstrated some particularly horrid ukemi by landing smack on the top of my right shoulder. Much ice and pain later it seems I have a level 1 (minor) separation of the AC joint, so I'm down for a couple of weeks, at least. I can do whatever doesn't hurt, but am not to push it.

Lesson two: Humility. D'oh!

I am grateful to fellow AikiWeb citizens Mary Eastland, who posted about being annoyed with a broken wrist, and Darryl Bronson, who posted about having Aikido withdrawal after knee surgery. Aside from feeling less alone and sorry for myself, for being benched before the end of my 2nd week, I now have lots of ideas for productive ways to use the time. I will be continuing to go to class, watching, taking notes, and learning everything I can. As my shoulder improves I'll join in one-sided or somehow just work on those things I can do. I've had a shoulder problem before. With proper care and PT it healed fine. This will too.

Lesson three: Patience. Sigh...

Aikido in general, and my dojo in particular (Aikido of San Diego (http://www.aikidosd.com/)), felt like the right choices from the first moment, and everything since has confirmed that. Yes, the simple things I had hoped to address in my life and riding are there, but there's so much more depth to the art than I had considered. The more I learn, the more I find that Aikido applies to every aspect of living, in a way that harmonizes with my temperament. The people I've met through Aikido (both in the dojo, and online) have been universally smart, thoughtful, kind, patient, and a lot of fun.

I am looking forward to a very long and interesting journey, and to getting to know people here. And I promise to try to not be so long-winded every time I post. :p

Linda

akiy
05-18-2009, 10:56 PM
Hi Linda,

Welcome to AikiWeb and thank you for your wonderful introduction. I hope you heal quickly and completely and that your reintroduction to the mat goes well.

-- Jun

Janet Rosen
05-19-2009, 12:46 AM
Linda, welcome to aikido and aikiweb.
A shoulder separation from bad landing is one of the most common newbie injuries. Be sure to let it heal completely!
One of my instructors is a horsewoman (this is a rural community so her emphasis is on ranching-related riding) who travels to attend workshops and demonstrations for pleasure; I know that she feels there is very little difference between that and aikido.

Linda Eskin
05-19-2009, 01:27 AM
Hello Jun and Janet. Thank you for the warm welcome.

I will definitely be careful with letting it heal (darnit...). I want it to get better and stay better. Once I'm back on the mat I'll be very motivated to learn whatever it was I didn't know in taking that fall, so I can (I hope) avoid doing this again. Ouch.

The similarities between Aikido and horsemanship are really stunning. I'm working (slowly) toward doing dressage, which is basically a martial art in which harmony with the horse is the goal. Dressage tests are very much like kata - demonstrations of a set of skills at each level. Nervousness, confusion, or annoyance on the part of the horse are counted against your score. Training a horse is a little like teaching it ukemi - to follow the feel you are offering.

Thanks again for saying hi.

Linda

Voitokas
05-19-2009, 02:43 PM
Welcome! Hope your shoulder heals quickly and well!

Linda Eskin
05-19-2009, 10:45 PM
Thank you, Jeremy. It feels a bit better each day. I just need to keep my wits about me and not re-injure it.

I went to class today, just to watch and take notes. I got tons out of doing that, although I admit it was like watching all the other kids play in the pool, when you can't go in. (Waah, waah, waah.) Very worthwhile, though.

Thanks for saying hi.

Linda

Linda Eskin
06-01-2009, 08:42 PM
Correction: Duh... After some advanced math that involved counting on fingers and toes I realized that I am not 47, I'm 46. Yay! LOL

Update: Doc said today that I can go back to class now, but no falling/rolling for another 3 weeks, after another follow-up check.

Younger, and somewhat less injured now,
Linda

dps
06-01-2009, 09:22 PM
The similarities between Aikido and horsemanship are really stunning. I'm working (slowly) toward doing dressage, which is basically a martial art in which harmony with the horse is the goal. Dressage tests are very much like kata - demonstrations of a set of skills at each level. Nervousness, confusion, or annoyance on the part of the horse are counted against your score. Training a horse is a little like teaching it ukemi - to follow the feel you are offering.

Hello Linda,

I couldn't agree with the above more.

I grew up on farms in northeast Ohio. Always had ponies, horses, donkeys and mules to ride. Started to ride when I was five and that is when I first learned about how to fall ( ukemi). I broke my own horses and trained them for 4-H, horse shows ( western style, barrel races, flag races, etc.), trail riding and trail racing. I learned about centering and grounding while riding horses after which I did not fall off so much. I learned about harmonizing with a horse (uke) to make it my learning partner. I learned about keeping a safe distance (ma ai )because horses can kick faster than a person can throw a punch.
I learned about sensing a movement through feeling the intent of the horse by keeping a physical connection when near a horse. I learned a a lot of insight and a ton of patience dealing with donkeys and mules ( uncooperative ukes) I shoveled a lot of manure and recognize it when I see it ( people who don't know what they are talking about or teaching).
Good basic training for Aikido.

Good Luck
David

Linda Eskin
06-01-2009, 10:44 PM
Hi David, and thanks for the reply. Yep, sounds like you've BTDT. ;)

It's funny, I have pretty good "eyes in the back of my head" for sensing what my horse might be up to next, but when we try to anticipate an attack in class (respond as soon at uke moves toward us) I'm pathetically slow. It'll come with time, I suppose.

By the way, I also have donkeys. They will teach one patience. :p And they respond so much better to trust and polite requests than to authority and force. Besides, they are smart, and cute.

I have found, with my 5 y/o draft-cross greenie, who can buck like a rodeo horse, that tensing up, hanging on, and holding my breath isn't a very good strategy for staying with him. It's easier to throw someone who's not relaxed, I hear. Hoping Aikido helps in that respect...

I've not played with weapons yet, but I'm guessing years of forking manure has got to help with jo work. :D We'll see.

Cheers,
Linda