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Akshat
09-20-2009, 03:48 AM
Hello!

I have 2 question:

1. is it possible to combine Aikido with medium level of Weigth training?

2. My lower back is not that strong..i had pulled it badly about 3 years back but since 6-8 months i feel better.....IS Aikido safe?

Thanks!

Akshat

dalen7
09-20-2009, 09:53 AM
Hello!

I have 2 question:

1. is it possible to combine Aikido with medium level of Weigth training?

2. My lower back is not that strong..i had pulled it badly about 3 years back but since 6-8 months i feel better.....IS Aikido safe?

Thanks!

Akshat

Akshat,

You can mix Aikido with Sushi if you want too. :D

Seriously, its up to you and what your body can handle.

If your having back issues you may need to talk to a physical therapist/doc, etc. Dont push it...

Is Aikido safe? Again depends on what you make it - as well as your training partner. In the right environment and setting, etc. it can be safe... but it can be the opposite as well.

Over applied Nikkyos hurt... for long periods of time too. ;)

Peace

dAlen

Adam Huss
09-20-2009, 10:19 AM
Yes, of course! Just be sure to do both safely, as Dalen mentioned. If anything, weight lifting can help aikido as it will increase your ability to have control over your body. Having proper form/posture in aikido can be difficult for many people (as many people do not have good posture in day to day life). Certain weight training (lower back, rotator cuff, core, hip flexors) will help you be able to have better control over your body, thus allowing better posture which results in an ability to create more power (due to proper alignment of your body, head over shoulders, shoulder over hips, hips centered, etc). Many aikido principles translate to safe lifting techniques as well (keeping feet flat and understanding that your heels are your center balance when doing weighted squats on a smith machine, for example).

You will need to try an strengthen your lower back if you can. Aikido can put a lot of pressure on your lower back as that is where many techniques derive their power from (well from the hips as well, but they are linked...big toe is important for power too). Regardless, the lower back and core are really important in day to day life, so work on strengthening it if you can. Just take it easy, and remember, just because your back isn't hurting while your training/lifting, doesn't mean your not putting too much stress on it. Often you won't feel it until you wake up the next morning and can hardly get out of bed (I have good form when lifting, but tend to forget lifting principles when I'm putting weights back in their rack! Not good!)

ChristianBoddum
09-20-2009, 02:43 PM
I second Adam in that strengthening the lower back is well advised,
especially when doing breakfalls,
both the strength and the "padding" that muscletissue provides,
will make you less vunerable in the many throws you will encounter :-)

To much strength can be a bad thing, in the body to body communication, but a god muscletone of the whole body is recommended.

dps
09-20-2009, 07:14 PM
Hello!

I have 2 question:

1. is it possible to combine Aikido with medium level of Weigth training?

2. My lower back is not that strong..i had pulled it badly about 3 years back but since 6-8 months i feel better.....IS Aikido safe?

Thanks!

Akshat

Try these for whole body weight training;

Homemade Gada ( Indian Mace)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATw-95oWaP0&feature=fvw
http://maxwellsc.blogspot.com/search?q=gada+video

Bulgarian Training Bag

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y83NZ-IBaVA&feature=channel_page
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il8rU0H-9ps

Short Power Rope

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmNaqw0UMws&feature=channel_page

David

Suru
09-20-2009, 08:42 PM
When I was lifting and training Aikido, I found the two practices to not only be fine together, but they complemented each other as well, as some have mentioned already on this thread. Ideally, a healthy adult's natural musculature should be enough to accomplish any technique in Aikido with any size and/or strength of uke. However, I have had a theory since soon after I began Aikido. Muscular strength and successful technique are directly correlated to some extent at first, but the correlation approaches zero as an Aikidoka trains for more and more years. Then there becomes an illusory direct correlation that increases and decreases, as an Aikidoka's confidence level lowers and rises, respectively. I believe that all the most venerable sensei in the world maintain confidence most of the time, but that perhaps even they feel brief, fleeting moments of insecurity.

"Medium" is not a quantitative word, but for me medium weight training would definitely mean soreness during the first few weeks after taking substantial time (months) off. If you have already been weight training for awhile, great, otherwise expect a couple weeks to a month of muscle-range-restricting soreness.

Drew

Michael Varin
09-20-2009, 10:40 PM
I'm not sure why people have an aversion to weight training or suspect that it might be bad.

As long as you use good form and give the body time to recover, all the basic lifts and body weight exercises are extremely beneficial.

Many problems like lower back pain are due to muscular imbalances and lack of mobility. If you are lifting correctly, exercises like squats, deadlifts, and the plank should help this problem improve.

Adam said a lot of good things, like the following, however I disagree with his example.
Many aikido principles translate to safe lifting techniques as well (keeping feet flat and understanding that your heels are your center balance when doing weighted squats on a smith machine, for example).

You should never squat with a Smith machine, especially if you have back problems, and your balance will actually be into the bar. Besides, Smith machines don't necessarily protect you from the weight anyways.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m6vcyQqx_Q

If you have already been weight training for awhile, great, otherwise expect a couple weeks to a month of muscle-range-restricting soreness.

There is no reason why you should have soreness that restricts your movements when you start lifting after a layoff. Just work your way into it. Start of with very light weighs and keep your reps low, then increase the intensity as you progress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATw-95oWaP0&feature=fvw

Wow. Doing 5th suburi with a suburito has nothing on that.

I had never seen any of those before. That short power rope looks interesting.

Suru
09-21-2009, 12:05 AM
You should never squat with a Smith machine, especially if you have back problems, and your balance will actually be into the bar. Besides, Smith machines don't necessarily protect you from the weight anyways.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m6vcyQqx_Q

There is no reason why you should have soreness that restricts your movements when you start lifting after a layoff. Just work your way into it. Start of with very light weighs and keep your reps low, then increase the intensity as you progress.


I am going to look up your link soon, but a Smith is perfect for squats, especially if you can't find a spotter for those long sets. Use a manta or foam velcro cylinder with the bar resting across the upper trapezius instead of the neck. It is important to not go past parallel, but to at least almost get there. There is a small device that can be strapped around an upper leg that will beep when it senses parallel, but I prefer a mirror in front of me. It is much better to get to parallel with light weight, even with just a 45 lb. bar or a lighter Smith bar, than to use heavy weight and drop partially.

Light (easy) weights will slowly develop muscular endurance and gradually get the lifter more cut. However, if you are actually working on pure strength or building muscle mass (getting bigger), you don't mess around with lighter wieghts for a month, then light weights for a month...

To achieve greater muscle mass (hypertrophy), reps should be from 8-12, and the last rep for each set should be lifted with a struggle, or require a spotter's light touch. Some lifters choose to precede the heavy sets by a lighter, warm-up set. This may help slightly with soreness, but there will be plenty of soreness at first, which will decrease with each workout (muscle groups spaced apart). Before you know it the soreness will be close enough to gone. A lifter going for pure strength, which would cause secondary hypertrophy and tertiary endurance, should keep reps in the neighborhood of 1-5 per set. Calves and abs respond to high reps - in the 20s or beyond.

Drew

Michael Varin
09-21-2009, 06:35 AM
Once again, I disagree. As I said before, the Smith machine encourages unnatural motion. It tends to add stress to the knees.

Here is a very nice tutorial on squating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbxxs1PErLQ
The biggest drawbacks to the above video are that the low bar position should be used, the hip joint should always go lower than the knee joint, and cushioned shoes are a poor choice. . . the more I think about it these days, I believe barefoot is the best way to squat.

Going below parallel won't injure the knees if you control the motion, use proper form, and start with light weights. It is a much better exercise and goes a long way to restoring proper hip function.

Now, it's possible that someone's hip and ankle flexibility is so poor that it prevents them from doing the exercise. In that case, they should start will mobility exercises, not squats.

Compare to this very poor squat. Bar too high, grip too wide, motion starts at the knee instead of the hip, not deep enough.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni0bc_gaGrA

This is an awesome squat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0lF4lm3efA

Adam Huss
09-21-2009, 06:36 AM
I'm a believer that squats are actually one of the best full-body workouts one can do. I'm no stud or anything, I rock like 45's when I do squats...but I ensure my thigh is parallel to the ground. Some people brag about going past 90 degrees, but in my unprofessional opinion I think that could be bad for the knees. As far as terminology is concerned: is it only a Smith machine if its on a guided rail? I was always under that impression, but a friend told me earlier in the summer that the unguided squat rack was also considered a smith machine. No question mark there, but that was a question...anyone know for sure?
cheers!

lbb
09-21-2009, 06:53 AM
My biggest concern for aikido and weight training would be adequate recovery time (which is the only reason I'm not doing weight training now -- that and not being able to find a decent gym in Boston that doesn't cost a small fortune -- given that I'd only be able to use it twice a week, cheap is pretty essential).

bkedelen
09-21-2009, 07:41 AM
It is amazing how many people pursue martial arts without at least understanding how to change the height of their hips under load. For that reason alone I believe weight bearing exercise is a critical element in martial arts training. It just plain makes sense to pursue a foundation of general physical preparation if you wish to improve in any physical discipline.

Michael Hackett
09-21-2009, 09:27 AM
I'm unable to do squats due to an old shoulder injury (not related to aikido or weight lifting) so I use both a hack squat machine and a leg press machine. I would prefer the actual squats, but these are better than nothing. I also like to do lunges, forward, backward and lateral with dumbells and those seem to pay off when dropping my weight in the dojo.

I DO NOT use the gym on aikido days, but I do a light workout at home instead, usually skipping rope, some ab work, push ups, and some kettlebell swings.

That schedule works for me.

Suru
09-21-2009, 11:33 AM
As far as terminology is concerned: is it only a Smith machine if its on a guided rail? I was always under that impression, but a friend told me earlier in the summer that the unguided squat rack was also considered a smith machine. No question mark there, but that was a question...anyone know for sure?
cheers!

A plain, free squat rack with a rest, bar, and barbells, is not even a machine, so is not a Smith machine. The only drawback I see from a Smith machine is that the bar stays balanced on its own, therefore not working as many stabilizer muscles. It is certainly much safer than a basic squat rack because the bar can hook and lock with a turn of the hands. Also, pins can be placed at or below parallel, which will stop the bar in an emergency situation. The guy in Michael's first video did not have the pins in; plus as I recall, the most common Smith machine wont let the bar drop that far anyway.

Free weights in general are more effective than machines. If working out with a buddy, free weights are easy since you have a spotter. There have been a couple times I've done flat bench without a spotter, tried to get in that last rep, then had to lower the bar to my chest and tilt it for the plates to drop off. The thing is that many strangers in the gym are looking for spotters also, so it works out, quid pro quo.

By the way, Michael, that last video was pretty amazing. That guy's thighs are the size of my torso!

Drew

Suru
09-21-2009, 01:42 PM
Overall, the Smith is safer than free squats, but I remembered another drawback of the Smith. Since the bar stays horizontal, it is natural to use the stronger side of the lower body, to favor it. Therefore a conscious effort has to be made to use both sides for an even workout. This goes for most machines versus free weight bar exercises, as keeping the bar level ensures a more equal usage of the lifter's weak and strong sides. Who wants a pec, quad, or deltoid that is twice as big and/or strong as the other? With dumbbells, the strength of one side versus another becomes crystal clear.

All the way from the start, safely and properly training with weights can be mixed with Aikido training to form an enjoyable combo. I have noticed this for myself, and I have trained with guys who are really muscular. They have demonstrated excellent technique, with their strong and massive builds not seeming to get in their way at all.

Drew

lbb
09-21-2009, 01:59 PM
I DO NOT use the gym on aikido days, but I do a light workout at home instead, usually skipping rope, some ab work, push ups, and some kettlebell swings.

That schedule works for me.

Michael, what would you say is needed for recovery time after aikido -- let's say a class that makes you feel fairly "crunchy" (muscles sore or fatigued the next AM)? And, if that's your typical aikido workout, how much time after a strength training workshop before you'd go to aikido class?

bkedelen
09-21-2009, 03:34 PM
I will chime in with a different take on squats. I believe, and this is just my opinion, that a smith machine is only useful in that it can be melted down into something heavy that can then be used for training. Learning to squat safely is much more than just being able to twist the bar hooks into place. People wishing to learn to squat need to first learn the air squat, a few of which can wear out even the toughest athlete when really excellent technique is the challenge. Once a significant amount of skill in the air squat has been achieved, load bearing squats like the front squat, goblet squat, and back squat are then trained. The front and goblet squats are not as valuable as the back squat for developing absolute strength, but mimic normal activity, particularly for a martial artist, much more precisely than back squats. Back squats are typically trained by doing box squats and really working on keeping the knees back over the top of the foot, keeping the knees out, really getting the butt back, and developing explosive potential in the glute-ham chain. Skill in these intermediate squats is then used to develop the overhead squat, single-leg squat and all the myriad other variations. All of these skills combine to provide tremendous confidence in how the body works under a load, the structure and neurological interface to effortlessly control the lower back (very important for developing internal skills), and a variety of other martially critical benefits such as dramatically increased bone density, resistance to metabolic disease, etc..

Michael Varin
09-21-2009, 04:28 PM
I believe, and this is just my opinion, that a smith machine is only useful in that it can be melted down into something heavy that can then be used for training.
That's a good one. :D

In all fairness to the Smith machine, you can use it for pull ups and inverted rows.

Suru
09-21-2009, 05:01 PM
The Smith can also be used for bench press and shoulder press, but again, free weights are better for the reasons I have mentioned. Squats in general are hardcore forms of exercise, in the same family with power cleans. There are many slightly less effective, much safer, and just flatout much less unpleasant forms of building hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. There are machines at many gyms to target each muscle group. They work. The lifter should focus on using both sides equally, even though muscles will never be perfectly symmetrical.

Since the original thread starter is curious about "medium" weight training, squats should not be part of the regimen. Unless someone is trying to get legs like the guy in the video, all squats really do is fill a person with stress, pain, and all kinds of other bad feelings.

Drew

Michael Hackett
09-21-2009, 05:33 PM
Hi Mary,

I haven't had that feeling you describe in the last few years. When I go to the gym, I probably do too much at a time and it would kill me on the mat if I tried to train that night. I really focus on my legs and cardio in the gym and wouldn't be able to get back on my feet 100 times a class. I get the kinks out by doing a short warm-up on an elipse machine and that seems to work any soreness out from class the night before. My normal routine is MWF nights for Aikido, TThurSat in the gym for resistance and cardio (yeah, I know they should be on separate days). MWF mornings I do a light work-out at home that I previous described; about a half-hour is all. I am soooo fighting this whole aging process! Hope that answers your question.

gdandscompserv
09-21-2009, 07:24 PM
I have played with lifting weights for a while. Lately, I've been lifting with very light weights in very slow motion.

Adam Huss
09-21-2009, 08:36 PM
I certainly don't want to come off as a weight lifting addict...

I would like to caveat off what some others said, particularly for the budoka who wants to increase some strength without worrying about getting into hardcore lifting techniques:
My theory has always been if you are getting worn out doing unweighted (or light dumbbells) lunges and free squats (or unweighted squats) you have no real business doing full-out squats. Similarly, if someone can't do a dozen pushups, they really don't need to be trying to bench press as much weight as they can three times. I understand pushups and bench/chest press are not exactly the same, but there certainly is a correlation. My point being, many people often try to overwork their ability and end up 'cheating', whether knowingly or not, on their form in order to lift the weight they feel they should. My favorite workout day is when I run to my gym and do a pull-up, pushup, dip, (+one random favorite like plyo-box drills or high-rep light weight clean and press or light weight high rep body builders) workout. I would say that pull-ups, push ups, dips, and core are really important and neglected exercises (leg stuff too; plyo's, hill workouts, etc).

Adam Huss
09-21-2009, 08:41 PM
...oh and thanks for the quip about the smith machine. Especially the one about a squat rack not even being a machine...that's pretty obvious, I can't believe I didn't argue that point with my buddy! I agree that the smith can often be used as a crutch because it makes lifting a little easier (and doesn't work the stabilizers as much). I usually use it when the benches are full or military press (for some reason I am weak in that area. On Week 1 of shoulders i'll use the smith or squat rack...the following weak i'll use dumbbells or resistance bands..in order to keep things from getting too repetitive).

Add: I also actually frequently use the smith machine for inverted rows....and also tricep extensions with my body weight (like up on toes, straight back, palms facing away on top of smith bar with back of hands near the head or chest and extend).

Suru
09-21-2009, 11:13 PM
Adam, I know you were referring back to the Smith when you talked about using it for triceps. I agree with switching it up; not only does this make lifting less boring, but different exercises, even for the same muscle group, work in subtly different ways. I have always used the pulley with tricep bar attached as one of my main exercises. There is no better tricep workout I have found than skull crushers.

I agree with your respect for workouts not even necessarily involving a gym. Pull-ups for back and biceps, push-ups for full upper body (primarily chest and tris), and squats without weight or with dumbbells in hand for legs. Dips on a bed edge will isolate primarily triceps and secondarily pectorals. Add calf raises on a big book or 2x4 and crunches, and you've got yourself a full-body anaerobic workout. Utilizing gym equipment makes workouts more precise, and therefore better. But like I was saying, a quite productive home workout is certainly possible.

Drew

lbb
09-22-2009, 08:51 AM
I haven't had that feeling you describe in the last few years. When I go to the gym, I probably do too much at a time and it would kill me on the mat if I tried to train that night. I really focus on my legs and cardio in the gym and wouldn't be able to get back on my feet 100 times a class. I get the kinks out by doing a short warm-up on an elipse machine and that seems to work any soreness out from class the night before. My normal routine is MWF nights for Aikido, TThurSat in the gym for resistance and cardio (yeah, I know they should be on separate days). MWF mornings I do a light work-out at home that I previous described; about a half-hour is all. I am soooo fighting this whole aging process! Hope that answers your question.

Hi Micheal,

Thanks, that's very helpful. I"m trying to find a way that makes it work for me. On a typical week, I go to class on Monday and Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Wednesday through Friday I'm usually in Boston for work, so I can't train. I've been trying to find a way to fit strength training into that schedule, and I can't find a good way that doesn't involve purchasing two gym memberships. I do cardio when I'm in Boston (heh...bicycle commuting) but no weights.

Thanks,

Erick Mead
09-22-2009, 09:37 AM
I would point out three cautions against traditional resistance weightlifting (machine or free-weights) that isolates specific muscle groups. It is not a counsel against weightlifting but about choosing how to exercise and which excercises to choose. The issues are three-fold:

1) Symmetry vs. asymmetry
2) Planar stress versus torsional stress
3) Leverage versus shear

Traditional resistance lifting uses many symmetrical exercises engaging the body using both sides in the same mode and direction of action. Aiki focusses more on using the body to maximize asymmetry of action -- so that different parts of the body are maximizing compression and tension respectively at the same time in modes of action that are not in the same direction or manner. For reasons of torsional action many of the stresses in aiki cross over -- engaging the opposing sides' upper and lower quadrants in the same stress, unlike traditional lifting which tends to engage the an upper or lower limb in isolation or together in symmetrical lifting and under the same stress.

Traditional weightlifting tends to emphasize planar action in a linear sweep without torsion. The reasons for this are several. Because in emphasizing leverage (see the last point below), torsion and its shear action is very dangerous to the loaded joints in this manner of action, and must be avoided. However, the joints are actually grown to handle torsional stresses in another mode, though they are also weakest in torsional resistance, and this is both used and exploited in aiki. Secondly, the common technique of isolating muscle groups in each exercise requires limiting the degrees of freedom of the limb -- which tend naturally to switch load from muscle group to muscle group, and the exercise thus causes a linear approach to loads that is the opposite of the body's natural proclivity -- which is to engage many groups at once or in a progressive sequence.

Lastly, leverage is emphasized in traditional weightlifting. This is not a concern with some of the older forms of weight exercises noted above like the mace, and the Bulgarian bag and ropes, or a heavy iron bar ( padded :D ) for suburi, which is my favorite,. Kettle bells also tend to serve well although they can also be used in isolating leverage exrcises. The principle of leverage requires that the muscles of the limb opposed to the primary lever action be used to stabilize the joint against the shear created by the leverage. This makes the loaded joint exceptionally vulnerable to added shear -- such that it may be easily buckled.

Apart from the inefficiency in energy terms of having half the muscles stopping action from occurring -- if the countering stabilization effort did not exist, the shear created by initially poising a leverage would cause a different type of movement. This movement is characteristic of aiki, and should be cultivated -- not eliminated -- by the exercises chosen.

Michael Hackett
09-22-2009, 10:10 AM
Mary,

I have a friend in a similar situation here. His solution is kettlebells. He bought a light one and started using it at home and has progressed up to a 45 pounder in the last couple of years. That doesn't sound like much, but the exercises really work the core muscles and you can get a killer work-out. He isn't buffed out, but is wiry and incredibly strong as a result. I think he told me that he does about 30 minutes a day on his off days. I have a couple of the KBs and use them in my short routine on aikido days. Take a look at YouTube for an idea if you aren't familiar with them. Biking in Boston won't last much longer, will it? If nothing else, a heavy rope for skipping rope can work up your cardio indoors.

Unless you're lifting for incredible mass, the soreness you may feel is really transient and goes away with a short warm-up. Good luck in finding a routine that works for you.

thisisnotreal
09-22-2009, 10:29 AM
fwiw; i would recommend checking out pavel tsatsouline's "naked warrior". His theory: a warrior should always have what he needs to train (e.g. even if naked). he explains the method using 2 specific exercises (1 arm pushup and pistols (1 leg squat)). you can definitely get a training effect with these two alone. It is tough. it is not enough, but these two whole-body movements will challenge you...the book is interesting...definitely worth a read. there are copies floating around the web. There are some interesting ideas about power and tension generation in the body. fwiw; as i say..
good luck.
Josh

bkedelen
09-22-2009, 10:35 AM
Erick, I have to disagree with you. You are talking about modern weight training, which is what is exemplified by the smith machine and all the other machines in a modern gym. Traditional strength training is completely different. Old school training doesn't isolate muscles at all, it simply uses multi-articulate movements to train powerful capacities along the lines of action upon which the human body is already designed to operate. They promote tremendous capacity for transferring power which is very applicable to internal strength and is particularly safe, especially when compared to other activities such as long distance running.

Erick Mead
09-22-2009, 11:24 AM
Erick, I have to disagree with you. You are talking about modern weight training, which is what is exemplified by the smith machine and all the other machines in a modern gym. Traditional strength training is completely different. Old school training doesn't isolate muscles at all, it simply uses multi-articulate movements to train powerful capacities along the lines of action upon which the human body is already designed to operate. They promote tremendous capacity for transferring power which is very applicable to internal strength and is particularly safe, especially when compared to other activities such as long distance running.Well, there is tradition and there is tradition. Perhaps instead of "traditional" I should have said "popular." In my sense, I was meaning dumbells and weight machines and the associated exercises tending to the mechanical in inspiration which have developed since about the early 1900's and the modern "health movement" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_to_Wellville_(film)) which dates from that time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Creek_Sanatorium) -- and which have become the standard gym format (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/UPSTREAM_FITNESS-1.jpg) for most "weightlifting" facilities available to most people. They don't know any other "tradition" older than what their grandparents and great- grandparents might have known (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/EarlyBarbell.gif).

I do not deny that the much older (and largely ethnic, and therefore not well known) strength training traditions do not suffer from the same problems I noted. They are more often closely allied to traditional forms of manual work. The Bulgarian bag is handled as one would load a pack animal or cart, much as O Sensei advocated farming (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/the-missing-kokyu-training-farming-2948/) for general exercise (physical and spiritual, IMO). Anyone who has busted a concrete slab with a 15# sledge can sympathize with the action of mace exercises. I know I can ... :D

bkedelen
09-22-2009, 11:39 AM
Now we are on the same page. Traditional methods are gaining in popularity these days. It is no longer hard to find a place to do russian kettlebell training, for instance. Also I appreciate you mentioning Osensei's using farming as a conditioning method. He even had extra-heavy farm implements made as his training tools. To me this emphasizes that martial artists should investigate old school functional training (functional as in mimicking regular tasks, not functional as in Bosu Balls) as a means of working on their weaknesses.

John Matsushima
09-22-2009, 11:41 AM
I think weight lifting is necessary to build up the body to be able to take a hit.

Upyu
09-22-2009, 11:59 AM
While I don't necessarily do Aikido, I'd offer that anyone that's starting to work on "Kokyu-ryoku" or any other form of internal strength should probably stay away from weight training in the beginning.

Retraining yourself to not use the shoulders is a "#Rch and a half by itself as it is. Pretty much any form of weight training which involves the shoulders simply compounds the issue.

dps
09-22-2009, 01:05 PM
They are more often closely allied to traditional forms of manual work. The Bulgarian bag is handled as one would load a pack animal or cart, much as O Sensei advocated farming (http://www.aikiweb.com/blogs/but-why-7854/the-missing-kokyu-training-farming-2948/) for general exercise (physical and spiritual, IMO). Anyone who has busted a concrete slab with a 15# sledge can sympathize with the action of mace exercises. I know I can ... :D

The movements in this 'Primal Nature Workout' reminds me a lot of the farm work I did.
What do you think of the rope power waves in the beginning of the video and at 3:00 minutes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDN9hZGjtzA&feature=channel_page

David

Erick Mead
09-22-2009, 03:45 PM
The movements in this 'Primal Nature Workout' reminds me a lot of the farm work I did.
What do you think of the rope power waves in the beginning of the video and at 3:00 minutes?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDN9hZGjtzA&feature=channel_page

DavidI use ropes and chains to illustrate structural disruption, how to lift or drop structure without levering, and the feeling of the resonance action trained by furitama and tekubifuri. Things like the undulating ropes in the video are not analogies -- they are the same action, different frequency -- closer to funetori, or in the alternating mode, like tenchinage in place. I have done this with loose chains to a fixed support (attached to an eyebolt through-bolted with plate washers, or at least a six-inch lag eye -- you can work a three-inch lag-eye out of wood very easily.

So ... yeah.

If he did a little work on posture and took that last bit of shoulder tension out and that would be just about right -- basically funetori/funekogi undo -- with ropes -- if done correctly. The bit slamming the medicine ball into the deck (@ 2:40) can be done with a suburito or iron bar on a fixed tire or baled bamboo pell to very good effect, and you basically build up the dropping power/stability in shiko. or if you prefer -- dig some post-holes for a fence.

Michael Hackett
09-22-2009, 04:51 PM
Erick,

What is a "baled bamboo pell"? I looked for Pell, but Webster's let me down. In context, it sounds like it might be an assembly of the bales.

Adam Huss
09-22-2009, 05:14 PM
You guys have some really cool ideas about physical exercise. I'm glad I got involved in this thread.

I think Mr. Mead made a good point about using weight training. Basically the exercises you do are what you are conditioning your body to be good at. So, in a simplistic way, doing bench press makes you better at doing bench press. That is why things involving dynamic and explosive workouts are important as well. Its much less efficient to increase one's explosiveness and power (not strength) by simply only lifting weights. I really do like the multi faceted approach and am excited to try out some of the exercises suggested here.

Someone on the previous page mentioned weight training can lend itself to muscling through techniques (particularly in beginners). Where I see the validity of that concept, I think proper instruction and overwatch by the tetsudai(s) and sensei(s) should allow for identification and correction of muscling.

I think a really important aspect of the 'traditional' (read, O Sensei having pine cones pelted at him and carrying old men on his shoulders from town to town in the cold, and being a lumberjack in Hokkaido) are important in that they harden one's mentality through the bodily experience.

Erick Mead
09-22-2009, 06:44 PM
Erick,

What is a "baled bamboo pell"? I looked for Pell, but Webster's let me down. In context, it sounds like it might be an assembly of the bales.A "pell" is basically something you can whack at for training -- a more general term than makiwara -- it can be vertical, horizontal, angled, fixed, articulated, hung, any number of different configurations --. If you take a bundle of small bamboo thumb-size or less -- say about 5-6 ft. long and bale them closely in a bundle about a foot or more in diameter (torso size, approximately) with twine or rope, binding them around or shoving down on a fixed stake or post (a "pale" like "im-pale" hence "pell") -- or you can lay the bundle horizontally between two crossbucks so that it can flex under impact between them. You can whack at it with fair impunity with a bokken, and it takes a good bit of deflection in the bottom of the strike. It will take quite a while to bust the bamboo down to the point that it has to be replaced, and like a shinai it gets more and more resilient as it gets split under impact. A tire does basically the same thing -- but is harder to mount and has less rarefied Japanese atmosphere -- and I have a good stand of bamboo handy, so it is basically free. :)

Adman
09-22-2009, 07:32 PM
While I don't necessarily do Aikido, I'd offer that anyone that's starting to work on "Kokyu-ryoku" or any other form of internal strength should probably stay away from weight training in the beginning.

Retraining yourself to not use the shoulders is a "#Rch and a half by itself as it is. Pretty much any form of weight training which involves the shoulders simply compounds the issue.

And a quote from Ellis in another thread (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=241176&postcount=39)

I think Ueshiba was "power proud," - it was hard to let go of his rather massive muscular power - we see him posing for photos in the mid-fifties, in full flex, as cut as a body builder - obviously proud of the red meat he had under the skin.

Relevant to the discussion, I think.

I think weight/resistance training is great for health, quality of life and for looking buff at the pool. :D However, I've given it up for now. It does get in the way of learning how to use my body in a relaxed, unifed way. Perhaps one day I'll take it up again, and only then with great caution.

Thanks,
Adam

Michael Hackett
09-22-2009, 07:36 PM
Thanks Erick.......back to my Chaucer.

Erick Mead
09-22-2009, 11:14 PM
I think Ueshiba was "power proud," - it was hard to let go of his rather massive muscular power - we see him posing for photos in the mid-fifties, in full flex, as cut as a body builder - obviously proud of the red meat he had under the skin.Relevant to the discussion, I think.

I think weight/resistance training is great for health, quality of life and for looking buff at the pool. :D However, I've given it up for now. It does get in the way of learning how to use my body in a relaxed, unifed way. Perhaps one day I'll take it up again, and only then with great caution.There is a radio interview in O Sensei's later life (80-85) where he remarks on how after the war he almost gave up training because he was losing confidence in his physical power. He remarked on his younger physique and his "rippling muscles" and how in terms of physical power alone he was never defeated by anyone -- but as to his present physique, he chuckled that his rippling muscles had all disappeared and he now had a body "soft like a woman" and "really attractive under his clothes"...

So -- props to the sisterhood ... I guess...;)

Suru
09-22-2009, 11:35 PM
Erick, that pell idea sounds pretty tight. Back in the day, they might have used pells or corpses that had freshly undergone rigor mortis.

Out of curiosity, does someone know how long ago cadavers were used for katana-giri or wakizashi-giri? It seems so barbaric but it might not have been that long ago.

Drew

MM
09-23-2009, 06:44 AM
As Rob John and Adam Bauder have both noted, weight lifting and aikido typically do not go together.

As Ellis noted about Ueshiba's physical muscles getting in the way. Ueshiba was known for his physical strength, but it completely, 100%, failed him when he met Takeda.

Also noteworthy -- I think it was Tohei talking about going around getting physically stronger (for Judo, I believe) and when he met Ueshiba, his physical strength completely failed him.

Tomiki was a highly skilled Judoka before meeting Ueshiba. Tomiki was tossed like a rag doll all over the place when he met Ueshiba.

Tenryu was big and strong. Again, his physical strength completely failed him when he met Ueshiba.

These people all thought physical strength was the way to be strong ... until they met Takeda, or Ueshiba after he trained with Takeda. And then they trained a very different way. Something to think about ...

DonMagee
09-23-2009, 07:18 AM
As Rob John and Adam Bauder have both noted, weight lifting and aikido typically do not go together.

As Ellis noted about Ueshiba's physical muscles getting in the way. Ueshiba was known for his physical strength, but it completely, 100%, failed him when he met Takeda.

Also noteworthy -- I think it was Tohei talking about going around getting physically stronger (for Judo, I believe) and when he met Ueshiba, his physical strength completely failed him.

Tomiki was a highly skilled Judoka before meeting Ueshiba. Tomiki was tossed like a rag doll all over the place when he met Ueshiba.

Tenryu was big and strong. Again, his physical strength completely failed him when he met Ueshiba.

These people all thought physical strength was the way to be strong ... until they met Takeda, or Ueshiba after he trained with Takeda. And then they trained a very different way. Something to think about ...

That's all well and good as long as you are not using it as an excuse to not be in healthy shape. I hear this crap all the time from guys 50+ pounds over weight. These are the same guys who are worried about self defense and likely to be killed early by heart disease.

I agree that weight lifting as a means of self defense is silly. However, being healthy weight, healthy level of muscle mass and fat can not ever be described as a bad thing. I have not seen any evidence that aikido alone is enough physical exercise to keep someone in healthy shape, especially those of us who live in the USA eating USA diets.

On top of that, strength can be used as a great equalizer. In bjj I was always taught that bjj allows the smaller man to defeat the bigger and stronger man. And it does. Against untrained muscled freaks I do quite well for myself. But as they get better technique and training I find myself now being forced to deal with their proper positioning, technique, AND strength. Being in better physical shape then I am, they have the cardio to outlast me, the technique to understand what I am doing to them, and the physical strength to muscle though it. To counter this I have to get one of two things. Either I have to get in better shape, which is the easy way out, or I have to get better technique. Getting better technique and form is a mountain that gets steeper much much faster.

I don't believe we can all be as great as the masters. I have been playing guitar and taking lessons for 15 years. I don't think I'll ever be SRV good. I'm good, I can play blues, jazz, rock, metal, etc. But SRV had some natural ability that I simply don't. My fingers cramp up easily and my hands are battered and beaten from years of sports that makes it hard to do some things. Other's make it to his level, but they too have some kind of natural ability. They think of things in ways I don't.

So I don't look for a way to be Kimura, Helio, Ueshiba, etc. I look at my traits, what I excel at, and how to build upon those traits. I also look at my weaknesses and how to minimize them. At the same time, when I teach someone, I don't only teach them the things that work for me. I teach them everything I've learned that I've seen work. That way they can invent their own way.

And besides, all the internal power in the world isn't going to help you if you can't jog up a flight of stairs without being so winded you need to sit down :D

Adman
09-23-2009, 09:08 AM
That's all well and good as long as you are not using it as an excuse to not be in healthy shape. I hear this crap all the time from guys 50+ pounds over weight. These are the same guys who are worried about self defense and likely to be killed early by heart disease.

I haven't heard anyone here state that. I think anyone should stick to their guns doing whatever they think is right for themselves.

And besides, all the internal power in the world isn't going to help you if you can't jog up a flight of stairs without being so winded you need to sit down :D

Well, to each his own, I suppose. I agree that it's better to be healthy than not. Depends on one's goals. All I'm saying is that if someone wants to focus on a specific skill, it may be helpful to remove any unwanted noise. For me, resistance training (for now) is unwanted noise.

Excluding weight training doesn't mean one can't remain trim, healthy and "hard as a coffin nail" ;).

Thanks,
Adam

John A Butz
09-23-2009, 09:58 AM
For what it's worth, the guy I know personally who is most into internal training has lost quite a bit of weight since he took it up, and is considerably stronger then he was before. Of course, he does a LOT of internal work, daily, without fail. The point is, however, that as far as I know from both my experience and that of my peers, proper internal training will result in weight loss, increase in power, general improvement in health, all that stuff.

Of course, if you think you can get all that without a lot of intelligent, hard, sweaty work, then you are wrong.

However, I think that it is possible, if you are sufficently driven and have proper instruction, to completely abandon traditional weight training and work exclusively with internal training, and you will not be one of those unhealthy folks Don mentions above.

I myself have not yet completely given up on some of my normal workout habits, but then again, I find that in virtually everything I do I am too reliant on shoulder power...so my habits seem to be blocking my own progress. Time to re-evaluate and improve.

Michael Hackett
09-23-2009, 10:18 AM
I did notice something two weeks ago while watching the California Nationals BJJ Tournament in Long Beach. In the black belt finals, I saw a significant number of really buffed out guys competing and apparently using a lot of muscle and strength. Oh, the technique was there, at least to my eyes, but there was also a a tremendous amount of just plain brute strength displayed. This was in contrast to a tournament I watched maybe four years ago where everything seemed to be finesse. I mentioned my observations to a friend who is a BJJ instructor and he said that finesse was the absolute answer before, but some really skilled people started doing strength training as well and the additional strength and muscle coupled with their technical skill gave them an advantage. Consequently many competition grapplers are now strength training to level the playing field. Maybe I'm all wrong, but it seemed the game was changing. That said, I'm not a grappler and don't know their art very well, so I could be wrong in my understanding of my observations.

Upyu
09-23-2009, 10:50 AM
These people all thought physical strength was the way to be strong ... until they met Takeda, or Ueshiba after he trained with Takeda. And then they trained a very different way. Something to think about ...


That's all well and good as long as you are not using it as an excuse to not be in healthy shape. I hear this crap all the time from guys 50+ pounds over weight.
...

One thing that should probably be clarified is that internal strength, while specialized, unusual and etc etc, is still a kind of physical strength. In fact most of the conditioning required to get I.S. up to a usable level is still extremely demanding. We get mma guys that've been lifting for quite a while that tax out in under a minute doing Ark's exercises. Anyone who thinks that they can become superman without putting in the same kind of sweat is in for a rude surprise.

Don, you've just never been exposed to someone with this kind of strength... this kind of strength is just as applicable on the ground as it is standing.
Basically it goes something like this.
Someone with strength but little skill : A
Someone with skill but little strength: B
Someone with strength and skill: C
Someone with Internal strength but little skill: D
Someone with Internal strength and skill: E

A<B<C
C==D
D<E
Or something like that.
Note, that's an extreme generalization and assuming someone of the same weight.
I.S(trength) helps to level the playing field immensely, but you can still get your ass kicked by someone who is both strong and immensely skilled, not to mention heavier than you.
The interesting thing about I.S(trength) is that it opens up avenues for skills that are unavailable to people with just normal strength, simply due to the different nature of the conditioning.

And to be honest, I don't think reaching Ueshiba's level would take as much effort as some people might like to believe (tar and feather me later). Granted, you'd still need to do a lot of work...but if you realize that the guy took nearly 50 years just to figure out the "right" way to train... well most people here and now actually have a leg up on the guy :D
The question is more like, how badly do you want it?

Kevin Leavitt
09-23-2009, 02:57 PM
Don wrote:

That's all well and good as long as you are not using it as an excuse to not be in healthy shape. I hear this crap all the time from guys 50+ pounds over weight. These are the same guys who are worried about self defense and likely to be killed early by heart disease.


lol...i concur and my thoughts exactly. two thumbs up!

Rob John wrote:

One thing that should probably be clarified is that internal strength, while specialized, unusual and etc etc, is still a kind of physical strength. In fact most of the conditioning required to get I.S. up to a usable level is still extremely demanding. We get mma guys that've been lifting for quite a while that tax out in under a minute doing Ark's exercises. Anyone who thinks that they can become superman without putting in the same kind of sweat is in for a rude surprise.

I also concur with this as well. It was my experiences working with Rob and Ark and a major cause for me re-assessing my value of the things that I do today.

BTW, I don't "lift weights" anymore, especially after doing some of this IS training, it just don't make sense to me anymore.

That is not to say that I believe it is any excuse to not be in shape or well conditioned.

I think what we are looking for is "functional integration" of skills...whatever that may mean.

This was my initial beef with the IS paradigm...alot of folks seemed to be putting alot of emphasis on developing these skills for the sake of the skills themselves, but not alot of ability to demonstrate how you integrate or use this stuff in reality (however you define that).

However, I will tell you that meeting with Mike Sigman, Toby Threadgill, Ark and Rob....well much different experience than I had in the past and they have a healthy perspective on integration and reasonableness of doing so.

Overall though, I agree Don. My experiences have been in the past a bunch of fat middle aged wanna be types in a gi with a red and white belt that fricking couldn't do crap other than a few impressive "tricks".

Ark especially was very brutal and physical in his approach, my body was screaming at me from the postures and movements he had us doing. I think if you train with Ark full time that it would be difficult to be fat and out of shape if you want to gain any real improvements.

Walter Martindale
09-23-2009, 03:21 PM
I did notice something two weeks ago while watching the California Nationals BJJ Tournament in Long Beach. In the black belt finals, I saw a significant number of really buffed out guys competing and apparently using a lot of muscle and strength. Oh, the technique was there, at least to my eyes, but there was also a a tremendous amount of just plain brute strength displayed. This was in contrast to a tournament I watched maybe four years ago where everything seemed to be finesse. I mentioned my observations to a friend who is a BJJ instructor and he said that finesse was the absolute answer before, but some really skilled people started doing strength training as well and the additional strength and muscle coupled with their technical skill gave them an advantage. Consequently many competition grapplers are now strength training to level the playing field. Maybe I'm all wrong, but it seemed the game was changing. That said, I'm not a grappler and don't know their art very well, so I could be wrong in my understanding of my observations.

Had some long arguments with folks in the 1970s about doing strength training to supplement the judo. The "weights makes you slow and stiff" crowd arguing against what was right in front of my eyes (and on top of me, choking me, and/or biffing me around the dojo on a regular basis) - my "sempai" -if you wish- was 5'6", 70 kg (154 lb), could bench press 285 lb, do pull-ups with 120 lb tied to his waist, squat 330 lb (for 5 reps). He could also do the splits, and tie other humans into little knots...
W

Kevin Leavitt
09-23-2009, 03:26 PM
Well I think what you see in the BJJ scenario is "All things being equal" that is being played out.

As skill and knowledge spread it no longer becomes a significant competitive advantage thus you have to find another avenue to capitalize on.

Strength and size and conditioning matter alot when all else is equal for sure!

Thus why there are weight and age categories in most tournaments. So what else is left? Strength, Speed, Agility.

Michael Varin
09-24-2009, 03:28 AM
Also noteworthy -- I think it was Tohei talking about going around getting physically stronger (for Judo, I believe) and when he met Ueshiba, his physical strength completely failed him.
What about when he met Herman, the unskilled American with no balance? This is after 18 years of aikido and presumably internal training.

Beginning at 6:30 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1mC6XDXL5Y
Don, you've just never been exposed to someone with this kind of strength... this kind of strength is just as applicable on the ground as it is standing.
Basically it goes something like this.
Someone with strength but little skill : A
Someone with skill but little strength: B
Someone with strength and skill: C
Someone with Internal strength but little skill: D
Someone with Internal strength and skill: E
Where did Tohei fit into the A-E scale in 1958?
Is this what E vs. A looks like?

I've met plenty of run of the mill mma and bjj fighters who would have made Herman look like the rank beginner he was, despite the weight disadvantage.

I don't think strength training is a cure all, but I do think you'd be a fool to discount it.

dps
09-24-2009, 04:30 AM
You need a balance of both internal and external, ying and yang.

David

MM
09-24-2009, 06:34 AM
I've met plenty of run of the mill mma and bjj fighters who would have made Herman look like the rank beginner he was, despite the weight disadvantage.

I don't think strength training is a cure all, but I do think you'd be a fool to discount it.

I'll reiterate what someone else has said. It's a wonderful phrase that perfectly described me a few years ago. "I didn't know that I didn't know."

In that respect, Mr. Varin, my only suggestion is that I truly hope that you keep an open mind and you jump at the chance to train with someone who has "good" Internal Skills.

Kevin Leavitt
09-24-2009, 07:35 AM
I definitely have an open mind and respect for those that are teaching this stuff.

Alas, I am STILL waiting to find the guy that will demonstrate this stuff in a integrative way. i.e. Applications for MMA and Grappling.

I have had plenty of "School House" and/or "Seminar/Dojo" gee whiz training...which was quite impressive to say the least.

I still have issues with the "realitive value" of what this type of training adds to say a MMA/Grappling or non-compliant environment over what is being taught/implemented in the grappling/MMA world already.

Maybe one day...but haven't found the guy yet who will show me. Not saying that this is not possible...just haven't seen it yet.

SmilingNage
09-24-2009, 08:24 AM
From my own personal adventure, I found weight lifting in general left me tighter and more apt to use my strength versus movement. Not to mention tired, which slowed me down uke-wise. With that being said, i am sure there is a way to make both fit as a scheme for better health and practice.

Upyu
09-24-2009, 08:37 AM
What about when he met Herman, the unskilled American with no balance? This is after 18 years of aikido and presumably internal training.

Beginning at 6:30 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1mC6XDXL5Y

Where did Tohei fit into the A-E scale in 1958?
Is this what E vs. A looks like?

I've met plenty of run of the mill mma and bjj fighters who would have made Herman look like the rank beginner he was, despite the weight disadvantage.

I don't think strength training is a cure all, but I do think you'd be a fool to discount it.

Well, I think it brings to light exactly how skilled people were back then. I'd have to say Tohei at the time probably wasn't working out with non-compliant partners (aliiiive training) that much, which shows. So it's more like looking at D vs. A. Another thing I'd point out is that if I recall correctly, Tohei was admonished to go "light" on the guy. Being a Judo guy, I'm sure Tohei knew more than a few dirty tricks if he wanted to throw down the gauntlet. If you ask me it was more a demo of IS(trength) with little Jutsu/skill involved.

Here's a better example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIc5NIfrnJs
Chen Bing can't weigh more than 75 kg, but is able to throw his semi-compliant (his partner is definitely not fully resisting) like a rag doll.

bkedelen
09-24-2009, 11:37 AM
Wow that is a great video. Chen doesn't even look like he weighs 60kg. Rob's D vs. A reminds me of an excellent point. Note that for the purposes of my point I am actually going to swap the meanings of "dead" and "alive" as it is used in Rob's post. Managing the weight of a non-complicit human body, dead or alive, provides a significantly different challenge than managing a piece of iron. One of my best friends is a highway patrol officer, and he says it takes about six guys to remove a corpse from an automobile accident. The amazing thing is, it is challenging to learn to be non-complicit! I tried to pretend that I was dead the other day and my 50kg wife moved me all over the room. I know that if I had truly been dead, she would have had one hell of a harder time moving me around. I could even feel parts of my autonomic musculature helping her out against my will. I think it is a mistake to think that weight lifting advocates like myself are saying that learning to move a lot of dead weight a long distance in a short amount of time will allow you to manage the weight of your partner in a similar way, especially if your partner has any internal skill. I am more advocating that moving dead weight in such a way has tremendous physical health advantages that will keep you alive, uninjured and in the dojo for an extra decade or two. Such training also has a lot of neurological body learning advantages in that learning something new simply makes you better at learning.

Michael Varin
09-25-2009, 04:19 AM
Hey Rob,

Great post. While I agree that that was nowhere near full resistance, the "uke" was uncooperative and that video much more closely demonstrates what you guys often describe.

I would just like to make clear that I claim no substantial understanding of or experience with "internal skills." I am open minded about that area of practice and read the threads with great interest, but because of my nature and experiences hold a certain amount of skepticism.

Upyu
09-25-2009, 07:52 AM
I would just like to make clear that I claim no substantial understanding of or experience with "internal skills." I am open minded about that area of practice and read the threads with great interest, but because of my nature and experiences hold a certain amount of skepticism.

Michael:
Hey, we all start from somewhere right?
Just wanted to note that skepticism is needed, because it'll help you separate the bullsh"# from the real. Real internal skill is undeniable, and will work on you whether you want it to or not.
Depending on your level of interest I'd find a seminar where they're teaching the basics. This stuff has to be felt, and unfortunately no amount of words can describe the requirements, subtleties etc that go into the exercises. Or the pain (depending on the approach) :D