View Full Version : Aikido for older beginners ?

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08-15-2009, 08:36 AM
Can older beginners handle Aikido training?

I am pushing 50 and I have a weak right knee from an injury some years ago. I am wondering if I can handle Aikido training. Can someone please give me ideas? Thank You.

Mark Gibbons
08-15-2009, 09:09 AM
I started 5 years ago at 48. Everyone in the Tuesday morning class I go to is over 50. It can be done. There are ways to protect your knees, ask for help.


08-15-2009, 09:38 AM
I started about the same time as you ( and that was 9 years ago) and used a neoprene knee support to firm up the looseness in my knee. I also use ( to this day) volleyball knee pads to protect both my knees from impact. They are hot in the summer and need regular cleaning but do the job.

I wish I was Mark with a class full of 50 year olds !! but every so often it's nice to outlast the out of shape young ones!!!!

Have fun and practice within you limits so you can "play" for a long time.

Mark Peckett
08-15-2009, 10:04 AM
Plenty of good advice here; I can't add to it, simply recommend you take it and start. There are plenty of us 50 plus-ers practising and enjoying it.
I would say you'll probably enjoy it more than some of the younger, more physical active practitioners, as there is a cerebral aspect of aikido which seems to appeal to older people: the difference of a couple of degrees in an angle making all the difference in a technique and is the kind of thing which seems to fascinate the more mature!
If I can give you one piece of advice - learn to pace yourself and listen to your body.

Mary Eastland
08-15-2009, 10:26 AM
Jean starting training with us when she was 70 and continued until she was 77....she has now passed.
She continues to be an inspiration to me...she did what she could and made Aikido her own.

Lyle Laizure
08-15-2009, 10:58 AM
I am not as old as some of you buy my knees are much older. Expect pain in your knees starting out and from time to time it is just a part of training. But the knee pads and braces/wraps are a wonderful way to help them. I would also like to suggest going to www.aminoactiv.com. This is a topical antiinflamatory that is absolutely amazing. It works for roughly 12 hours, rub it on in the morning and again in the evening. It is truly an amazing product.

08-15-2009, 11:57 AM
I started at 44, almost 15 years ago.
Always carry knee braces with me.
Let me show you how to bow in youngster.
Welcome to the mat.

08-15-2009, 12:33 PM
Mr. Woo

I am 53, I had my left knee re-constructed two months ago, I am back on the mat with very few impediments or restrictions. I also train in FMA, Albo Kali Silat specifically, the surgeon and staff where made aware of my expectations upon full recovery. My surgeon is a TKD blackbelt, so the PT was aggressive and regimented.

While training will aid in weight reduction or control, it is not the way to reduce an obese physique, other avenues to reduction should be initiated before and during your training. If your knee problems are attributed to obesity and injury, you need to see you doctor and initiate a reduction program.

Any physically challenging routine will bring soreness and discomfort, yet will dissipate over time as your body adapts to the rigors of training. You know your limitations, proceed wisely.

Train well,


Janet Rosen
08-15-2009, 03:45 PM
{waves} another over 50 with crappy post-blownout knee here....in addition to what everybody else has said:
1. Pay extra attention to good body mechanics, avoid torquing your knee.
2. Remember that knee supports offer warmth and compression and padding but do NOT prevent injury in the event of torquing or an accident.
3. You might consider an off the mat regimen to make sure your quads and hamstrings are strong as this will protect your knee joints.
4. You might consider talking with your instructor about minimizing kneeling techniques until you are more sure about good standing/walking/falling body mechanics.

Larry Feldman
08-15-2009, 03:59 PM
I have several in my class over 50, having promoted 2 (soon to be 3) to Shodan.

You might look for a style that does not emphasize or require break falls. Rolling should be sufficient. Plenty of good choices in Seattle.

08-15-2009, 09:41 PM
I started 23 years ago when I was 43 ( or was it 20 years ago when I was 46?) A long time ago in my 40's. I have never worn knee protection. I usually have to stand after several rounds of sawari (sp?) waza and always look for the tall skinny guy to uke when practicing koshinage. As for high break falls, still do them occasionally but usually can fudge less exciting ukemi. I've been telling people for 20 years that you don't have to to high break falls if you are over the age that is less than my age at the time and divisible by 5. :D

Ryan Seznee
08-16-2009, 09:57 AM
We have an instructor at my dojo who is in his 50's and he takes more classes than a couple people I know in their 20's. If your body can take it, welcome :D

Knee work is going to be tough for you with the bad knee though...

Kevin Leavitt
08-16-2009, 10:09 AM
I have seen alot of older folks come into martial arts over the past few years. Most if not all don't last. I think a big part of the reason is due to physical conditioning and the accompanying frustration level of trying to learn something new like aikido.

My recommendation is to go to a competent personal trainer or sports medicine specialist and get a comprehensive assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. They should do an assessment based on coordination, balance, fexibility, and strength. The assessment will show you what your weak areas are, and they will prescribe exercise in order to improve those imbalances.

If you read through the boards alot of us that are in shape and have been doing this for a number of years are proponents now of solo training and conditioning and going back to the drawing board to improve our conditioning and core strength in order to improve our aikido.

There is alot to this art if trained correctly and slowly.

The problem in alot of dojos is that we through beginners into these big huge off balanced movements that frankly, even I at my level of conditioning, years of experience and age are not comfortable handling.

There is alot of room for injury...and if not injury...frustration over not improving because you have to compensate for an imbalance in your body.

Take your time, go slow, breath and use easy natural movments. Again, at 50 and starting new, with a weak knee...i'd get an assessment if you are serious about this stuff.

08-16-2009, 06:30 PM
Just do it... You know you want to, and that is the most important step. :p

08-16-2009, 10:26 PM
Just do it... You know you want to, and that is the most important step. :p

08-17-2009, 07:33 AM
What Kevin said. It's very doable, but as with many other activities, if you don't prepare with good conditioning you will probably regret it. Particularly for older adults, conditioning is the key to being able to engage in vigorous activity, develop skills and remain injury-free.

08-17-2009, 07:44 AM
I'm not what you'd maybe call older exactly. I'm 39 and had never done anything remotely like Aikido in my life. No sports no other kinds of martial arts. Ive ridden horses most of my life and trained them and I do hoof trimming so I am used to hard physical work and carry a good bit more muscle than most girls.

I have a good bit of wear and tear on my body. Arthitis in my knees from a bad fall from a horse when I was younger, torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder and several dislocations on top of it, Occasional hip issues, mild asthma, not to mention I'm a good bit beyond what a Dr would call my ideal weight.

LOL I do Aikido. Yeah it hurt for the first month or so. A LOT! Some mornings I could hardly get out of bed.

Once my muscles got used to all the new work and began to get conditioned to new movements the pain stopped. I can, and have, trained up to 4 hours in a day. I think I hit 9 hours that week. Was no more than just very tired for a few days. No soreness really at all.

Its certainly doable if you want it bad enough. ;)

Lyle Bogin
08-17-2009, 08:30 AM
This article was mentioned by an "older beginner" at Shin Budo Kai recently. It was written by Judith Robinson Sensei who runs a dojo down in Tuscon with the Takemusu Aikido Association (Iwama/Saito Sensei style).



08-17-2009, 10:39 AM
My husband started 5 months ago and he is 58. :) I was told that a man started aikido in our dojo in his 70's and stayed till he was in his 80's I believe. That is what is great about aikido; people of all ages can gain something from it.

08-17-2009, 11:18 AM
As other people mentioned, it's not really the age, it's the body condition. I agree with what lbb said.

Remember that most Aikido senseis aren't experts in physiology and Aikido is always promoted as being accessible by everybody though I think in truth, if you have an impediment there might be certain things you cannot do in Aikido.

I personally have made this mistake, thinking I could lessen exercises that involved the knee or back, but without a thorough understanding of the injury, the Aikido didn't do them much good and gave them pains which stopped them from coming. I remember a 28 year old girl who had weak knees and although she wasn't doing any suwariwaza techniques, things like shihonage or even ikkyo when she sat down for the lock gave her pain. Of course this could be to my own ignorance and perhaps other instructors have over the years developed methods to help this.

It would be best to seek professional medical advice as to the kinds of movements you should avoid.

A weak knee would rule out suwariwaza techniques which although I personally think there are other ways around it, is quite a fundamental part of training especially with kokyuho.. Also certain styles are harder on the knees for eg Yoshinkan based ones.

The most important thing is making sure your teacher can adapt (which I am learning to do so) and communicate the range of movements you can or cannot do. But i believe with things like this...a little discomfort is unavoidable but may end up actually strengthening your muscles to support weak knees/joints.

Paul S.
01-13-2018, 10:29 PM
Hi to all,one of the sensei's in my dojo is 69 yrs young. He's been practicing for 35+ yrs and he tells me he hopes to continue training into old age.! I don't think he thinks he is old yet.! He is very good in the dojo for sure.!

01-17-2018, 07:51 AM
Aikido allows one to progress at your own rate.

A good teacher will support student's individual growth.

Most of the regular students in our morning class are over 60. We've had students train well into their 80s.

01-17-2018, 08:18 AM
FYI all, this thread is nine years old. OP has no doubt either decided to train or long since moved on (but I'm sure there are other adult beginners who might find this info useful).

01-20-2018, 09:03 AM
Interesting to see this thread come back up. I posted as a beginner and here I am 9 years later, still going. I am currently shodan, approaching nidan. My knees have not gotten any better. Swari waza is no longer a thing for me and I have to take some care of my joints but still going and still really loving aikido.

Just attendced my first camp. ASU winter camp was a blast. I trained with several wonderful people who also started training in their 40's and 50's and are still training(carefully) in their 80's. I was a little unsure about my body handling the intense schedule but my companion (also an older person) and I were on the mat for every class. That was 34 hours of aikido in 5 days! We were very proud of ourselves. :)

If you are "of an age" and interested in aikido, don't hesitate to give it a try. You might not be able to do some things but you can still find very good and useful training.

Mary Eastland
01-20-2018, 10:27 AM
Loved reading your perspective Cherie. Our dojo no longer does swari waza and I think that is good. My knees are not shot and I am 60.

At our dojo we tailor the class for who is in class. If you are an older beginner it would be all about what you can do and helping you explore options.

01-20-2018, 04:33 PM
Loved reading your perspective Cherie. Our dojo no longer does swari waza and I think that is good. My knees are not shot and I am 60.
to who is there but also
At our dojo we tailor the class for who is in class. If you are an older beginner it would be all about what you can do and helping you explore options.

Mary we are similar in that. We have a lot of over 40 members so we don't tend to focus so much on hard ukemi either. I can still take some breakfalls but they are not a big focus for our dojo and I don't take them often.(my most recent one was on a parking lot rather than in the dojo.) Swari waza and hanmi handachi are taught. I jsut do the standing version of whatever is being taught when othersare practicing the knee work.. Not only are classes taylored but each member can adjust their training to be able to work on what sensei is teaching in ways that accomodate their physical limitations. It is nice to have some young folk about though. We are hoping that our upcomig move to a new neighborhood will bring an influx of younger and bouncier people.

01-30-2018, 12:24 PM
I once asked Stan Pranin (over a pile of Thai food) how he felt about age keeping him from doing a lot of things on the mat that he used to do. His response has stuck with me ever since. He said "I used to worry about it, but I now take inventory of all the things I can't do, and it doesn't leave me any time to worry...". I miss him.