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View Full Version : Aikido injuires, by Stan Pranin


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Steven
09-02-2011, 06:08 PM
http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/09/01/aikido-and-injuries-by-stanley-pranin/#more-7579

Abasan
09-03-2011, 12:24 AM
Lol...
But seriously... It's a chronic problem and goes across racial boundaries and rank and school.

Human beings are capable of being the ultimate jerk as much as they are capable of greatness.

Lyle Laizure
09-03-2011, 07:57 AM
Good article. Don't let the article mislead you though. There will be pain and discomfort during training. As I tell my students, "We aren't playing with fluffy puppy dogs; you will experience some pain and discomfort." This shouldn't be a debilitating pain though. As the instructor I am very cautious of whom I train and my number one emphasis is safety. I like slow progression, it builds character.

I have encountered some of those "crunchers" in my time on the mat. I have only suffered mild discomfort in my training with them. Early in my training I would simply walk away and not train with this type of person. Now, having more experience, I will return the favor and explain the error of his/her ways. (There are lots of female "crunchers" out there.) As an instructor I do not allow this type of abuse in my dojo. I'm not saying that it won't happen from time to time with new people but the attitude is corrected or the student is ejected.

I agree that the instructor bears a great deal of responsibility for keeping his/her students safe. The student however bears an equal level of responsibility. The sensei cannot see everything. Students have a responsibility to themselves as well as their peers to bring it to the instructor's attention and should exercise their right not to practice with reckless individuals.

Onegaishimasu. It means, "Please I ask a favor of you." I know this because of a previous post. Well, I knew it beforehand but folks pointed it out because of how I was explaining it. I ask my students, what favor are you asking of your partner? I tell them the implied favor is respect for your safety, the safety of your body and vice versa. If everyone respected the safety of everyone else there would be a lot less injuries on and off of the mat.

As for the "excuses" listed in the article. I have heard those a few times. They are just that, excuses. Those inflicting the pain take no responsibility for their actions and feel no remorse. Apologies are nothing more that fictitious apparitions and mean nothing if you continue the same behavior.

Eric in Denver
09-03-2011, 09:52 AM
I think this is an interesting discussion. My first experience was in a dojo that would be considered a "hard" style. Effectiveness and the "martial" part of the art were stressed. There was not a lot of big flowy movements, and there was a quite a bit of discomfort/pain in the techniques. However, we were taught to apply techniques slowly and with control, allowing time for uke to tap out when they had reached their limit. It was almost as if the techniques were applied as partnered stretches. For most people, there were very few injuries once they got through the initial few months of conditioning.

Another dojo I had some experience with stressed the personal health/wellness approach, really soft pins, take care of uke, cause no pain, etc. They had injuries almost every week. I still haven't figured out why that was. One theory I have, though, is that there was a lot of focus on teaching uke how to behave as opposed to teaching nages the fundamentals of how to do a technique with precision and control. I also think the "we practice safe, healthful, soft aikido" attitude can give folks a false confidence in their ability to safely apply a technique that is in actuality quite dangerous.

As a metaphor, even though knife juggling isn't about killing people, you would still need to focus on the fact that knives are dangerous.

robin_jet_alt
09-03-2011, 09:59 AM
I think this is an interesting discussion. My first experience was in a dojo that would be considered a "hard" style. Effectiveness and the "martial" part of the art were stressed. There was not a lot of big flowy movements, and there was a quite a bit of discomfort/pain in the techniques. However, we were taught to apply techniques slowly and with control, allowing time for uke to tap out when they had reached their limit. It was almost as if the techniques were applied as partnered stretches. For most people, there were very few injuries once they got through the initial few months of conditioning.

Another dojo I had some experience with stressed the personal health/wellness approach, really soft pins, take care of uke, cause no pain, etc. They had injuries almost every week. I still haven't figured out why that was. One theory I have, though, is that there was a lot of focus on teaching uke how to behave as opposed to teaching nages the fundamentals of how to do a technique with precision and control. I also think the "we practice safe, healthful, soft aikido" attitude can give folks a false confidence in their ability to safely apply a technique that is in actuality quite dangerous.

As a metaphor, even though knife juggling isn't about killing people, you would still need to focus on the fact that knives are dangerous.

I have had exactly the same experience. I once trained at quite a 'hard' dojo and a friend trained at a dojo that placed a greater emphasis on personal wellbeing. Over a 4 year period, there were no serious injuries at my dojo, but there were several at the other dojo, including a hand with multiple spiral fractures and a dislocated collarbone.

I agree with your assessment of why that might be, but I would like to add one other element. At my dojo at least, my sensei would take me through a techniques slowly and teach me how to respond as uke when they were done hard. He would slowly ramp up the intensity so that I was always prepared to respond appropriately. Without that training as uke, if something goes wrong with a technique you are in a lot of trouble. With that training, you are more likely to be able to look after yourself.

Clearly this kind of 'hard' training is not what Stanley was referring to when he talked about crunchers.

Lyle Laizure
09-03-2011, 10:59 AM
Without that training as uke, if something goes wrong with a technique you are in a lot of trouble. With that training, you are more likely to be able to look after yourself.

Precisely. This is something we stress at our dojo.

philipsmith
09-03-2011, 11:49 AM
This is a particular interest of mine - enough to do some research.

Here's the resulting article

http://jst.ucb.ac.uk/pdf/Volume2/Issue1/JST_Vol2_Issue1.pdf

Eric in Denver
09-03-2011, 11:52 AM
I agree with your assessment of why that might be, but I would like to add one other element. At my dojo at least, my sensei would take me through a techniques slowly and teach me how to respond as uke when they were done hard. He would slowly ramp up the intensity so that I was always prepared to respond appropriately. Without that training as uke, if something goes wrong with a technique you are in a lot of trouble. With that training, you are more likely to be able to look after yourself.

Clearly this kind of 'hard' training is not what Stanley was referring to when he talked about crunchers.

I like your additional point as well. My original dojo followed the "diamond, willow, flowing, ki" approach that Saito mentions in his books, and that reflects what you are talking about (I think). We learned slow, precise movements at the beginning, to aid both nage in learning the important details of the technique, and for uke to learn how to not get hurt. My gokyu test focused on two things -- appropriate reigi, and appropriate placement of the feet for about 16 versions of various techniques. The other dojo I was at had little regard for kihon and there was the expectation that students would be focusing almost exclusively on "flow" by sankyu.

And yes, this clearly is different from what Stanley is talking about. I just wanted to stress the point that "hard" does not equal a$$hole. I think "hard" styles get an unnecessarily bad rap and are unfortunately equated with "dangerous, arrogant, and sloppy."

But that is a different conversation than dealing with "crushers," so I am probably introducing a needless side conversation. :rolleyes:

Eric in Denver
09-03-2011, 12:02 PM
This is a particular interest of mine - enough to do some research.

Here's the resulting article

http://jst.ucb.ac.uk/pdf/Volume2/Issue1/JST_Vol2_Issue1.pdf

Good article. So it seems there is no rhyme or reason to the injury patterns in your data set, although hard to say with the sample size.

Ankle injuries being the most prevalent is interesting to me. I don't know of many people that have had ankle injuries. It seems like most of those injuries would come from hard breakfalls into the mat, like in a sumiotoshi. Or perhaps from those really soft wrestling type mats that sometimes catch people's feet and toes and play with stability.

Any plans for a follow up?

susanmarie
09-03-2011, 11:04 PM
Ankle injuries being the most prevalent is interesting to me. I don't know of many people that have had ankle injuries. It seems like most of those injuries would come from hard breakfalls into the mat, like in a sumiotoshi. Or perhaps from those really soft wrestling type mats that sometimes catch people's feet and toes and play with stability.

I don't know about in general, but my ankle injury came from stepping on someone else's foot as uke during a fast tenkan technique -- my foot rolled hard to the outside while all of my weight was on it and pivoting.

Janet Rosen
09-04-2011, 12:34 AM
I can say that when I did my survey on knee injuries in aikido a lot of folks predicted that there would be a correlation between those grabby wrestling mats and acute knee injuries but no such correlation was found.
What I'm beginning to suspect based on limited anecdotal/observation is there may be a correlation btwn those mars and exacerbation of bunions.

philipsmith
09-06-2011, 01:43 AM
Any plans for a follow up?

Hi Eric,

I did follow up as a masters thesis and found a different pattern of injuries with a bigger sample.

47% of all injuries were in th upper limb and the only factor which affected injury rate was the frequency of training.

People training less than twice or more than five times per week had significantly more injuries than anyone else but gender, rank, experience and age had no effect.

I'm hoping to continue to monitor injuries yearly to give a better picture.

P.S, I'd like to thank janet for letting me quote her data on knees - it was a big help

Basia Halliop
09-06-2011, 10:17 AM
Interesting article. Although I think it mainly looks at one very particular kind of injury dynamic - in all your examples nage is intentionally adding a little extra 'special ending' to their technique out of a particular kind of arrogance, showing-off to build themselves up. In a sense, it's hard to honestly call these 'accidents'; they're more like small assaults covered up with a passive-aggressive shrug that it's just part of the game. It's more a person problem than a technical one.

When I think of accidents I've had myself -- they weren't generally caused by those kinds of people. Some were maybe more preventable than others, but none really had such a simple straightforward cause (i.e., training with an assh*le). My worst injuries all happened training with perfectly nice people, and most of the time it was some combination of my and their fault with sometimes a bit of luck thrown in.

Eric in Denver
09-06-2011, 02:55 PM
People training less than twice or more than five times per week had significantly more injuries than anyone else but gender, rank, experience and age had no effect.



It would be interesting to find out if the context of injuries was different for those training less than twice a week and those training five times a week or more.

In my (not so extensive) experience, people who train once or twice a week or less seem to lose the rhythm of the techniques, tend to tense up at weird places, and might be getting injured because of that. However, I would think it likely that those training more than five times per week might be experiencing injuries as a result of repetitive stress and no healing time.

It would be interesting to do some follow up on that. I hope you continue on with this research topic, it is fascinating.

kewms
09-06-2011, 07:06 PM
In my (not so extensive) experience, people who train once or twice a week or less seem to lose the rhythm of the techniques, tend to tense up at weird places, and might be getting injured because of that. However, I would think it likely that those training more than five times per week might be experiencing injuries as a result of repetitive stress and no healing time.

Both of those observations sound reasonable to me.

Someone training less than twice a week is probably not improving in either aikido skills or basic fitness, and may be backsliding. They may get themselves in trouble if they are frustrated with this lack of progress and push harder than their current level justifies. Which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle if soreness or an injury keeps them from coming to class more often.

Someone training more than five times a week probably has the opposite problem. They've dived in very aggressively and are pushing very hard, leading to both lack of recovery time and a tendency for minor injuries to become chronic due to failure to heal.

Katherine