View Full Version : training as we get older

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Mary Eastland
08-02-2012, 08:33 AM
The comments on the Jan H. post are fascinating. I hope to be training when I am in my seventies. Ron still takes ukemi for the whole class at 65. He is a bit slower than he used to be but still rolls and falls nicely.

This morning I am quite sore after 2 nights of good classes...my back and knees are feeling a bit stiff. Ki exercises and stretching and a little Tylenol helped.

I thought I would start a new thread about training as we age. Do you care to share your experiences here?
Thank you, Joe and Henry for talking about the need to keep training through it all.

08-02-2012, 09:10 AM
He is a bit slower than he used to be...

Uh... in the interest of accuracy, make that a LOT slower...


08-02-2012, 11:02 AM
It's not so much a matter of training as we age, as training as we change. Stuff happens and it's not all due to chronology. That process is not predictable, preventable or manageable, not in the way that most young healthy able-bodied people believe it is. Plans and strategies all fail as stuff keeps changing. The "what" and the "how" is not something you can hold onto, only maybe "why". Maybe.

08-02-2012, 04:59 PM
I actually think my training gets better the older I get because I have to train smarter.

My technique also gets better because I don't have the strength to force it any more.

Still aging and still improving.

Janet Rosen
08-02-2012, 10:45 PM
My limitations are specifically injury or arthritis related so not really age related. I was unathletic as a child, teenager and young adult, so having started aikido in middle age I can't really compare it across the timeline as aging either!

08-03-2012, 04:19 AM
A very good reason to keep up with intensive training:

08-03-2012, 08:46 AM
I actually think my training gets better the older I get because I have to train smarter.

My technique also gets better because I don't have the strength to force it any more.

Still aging and still improving.

This also is my experience. Injuries and body changes forced me to completely reevaluate the way how I practice. Because of those changes, Iím still improving my flexibility, health, quality of the techniques and general understanding of the practice. I can do decent cardio training, without too much physical effort. Also receiving powerful techniques became very easy; I think it was the biggest surprise. I was convinced that with age it would be impossible.

08-03-2012, 12:59 PM
i thought we train so we can be younger. i am working toward the awkward teenage years. oh wait! i am already there on the mats! cooooollll! :)

08-03-2012, 02:00 PM
I am only 42 but have significant knee problems which do have an effect on my training, some days much greater than others.

You know that expression the heart is willing but the flesh is weak? Well that's often how I feel. I want so badly to do so much with aikido that jsut will never be possible for me.
It was really hard for me to face the fact that there are some things I will never really get to fully experience in my aikido training since I came to it later in life. No shikko, swari waza and very very little hanmi handachi will feature on my tests as I advance through shodan and beyond. My teachers have had to modify my tests for 3rd and now 2nd kyu in order to accommodate the fact that I can't do any of those things. I really struggled with the fact that this was necessary if I were going to train long term rather than try to force myself to do them and take the risk of injury that would be almost certain.

Some nights I have a lot of pain while I am on the mat. But I find that the training helps me to stay more flexible and things would only be a lot worse for me if I quit moving. Often I run up against things I just can't do the way sensei wants me to because of my joint issues but we just find another way to make it work. I suppose that this is the part where you find out how to do your aikido instead of just becoming a carbon copy of someone else.

Last week we had Mary Heiny sensei in the dojo teaching. This woman is an inspiration at her age with a hip replacement and a knee replacement and still she continues to not only teach but to improve and develop her own aikido. She is still learning as well and she isn't letting her age and physical problems hold her back so I won't either. :)

graham christian
08-03-2012, 03:20 PM
The journey and and differences encountered with age I find a fascinating question and indeed has been a fascinating experience for me, especially in Aikido and maybe especially in the type I do.

I remember after about seven years or so whilst still very fit and agile doing hard warm ups and finding I had gone through some kind of barrier. Finding I could rely more on one point and Ki I could now carry on what seemed like forever without trying and was quite amused by watching everyone tiring and straining while I felt more and more comfortable, in a flow. I remember an odd thought I got at the time and that was the thought that I felt like I was cheating. Like it wasn't fair.

Fifteen years ago I had an accident and did my back in. Thereafter and up to today I have the back problems and am prone to sciatica and have to be careful lifting. Funny thing is that when doing Aikido it's almost like that part of me disappears, as if I park it outside and pick it up again after training.

One funny incident occurred last year when some friends training asked me and my long time Aikido partner to show them something we used to do. We decided to do a little demo and then I asked my friend to launch me across the mat from kotegaeshi. He asked if I was sure and I said yes. Hewas to take my one point and mind and aim me up and over to the other end of the mat. Up I went, over I went, down I came crack. Inside I felt the landing was a bit heavy and heard a crack but was more interested and confused even as to why people were coming towards me led by my son shouting 'Dad, you're not 16 any more!'

It made me laugh and I genuinely wondered what all the concern was about. They were a bit amazed by the throw and also by the distance I had gone but seemed concerned about something. O.K. I had hurt something but that's no big deal I thought.

Now as I traveled home I was wondering about this and and was still disappointed as to why I had landed so heavily, for some reason it didn't make sense to me. As I opened the front door I realized my rib was hurting and on touching it found it painful. 'Oh dear, I thought, I've cracked or bruised a rib'
Anyway, at that point something struck me, I'm not 16 any more! Now I was busy laughing at myself for the confusion was actually me comparing to before wondering what the difference was for before I would have bounced off the mat. I felt quite stupid. Ha, ha.

So I find experience and age gives so many things to compare and contrast when time is put into the equation.

I still find what we call the 'Yoda' effect amazing in our Aikido. You step on the mat and all disappears. The mind never believes it but has no choice but to come to terms with it, it's strange.

All in all I would say getting slower is not really pertinent or true for me for speed of the 'opponent' is not really a concern now. Stamina is probably the most noticeable difference for me. Next would be aches and pains which are more than before but balanced by my better ability to do something about them. I suppose they now become interesting challenges.

An interesting exercise.


08-04-2012, 10:54 AM
I am 51 now...I have also been on Military Disability since a bad jump (Parachute Accident) in the late 80's with left me with a bit of metal in my body. :)

I have to work out hard off the mat in order to maintain a good base for practice...

On the mat I am more relaxed and softer so actually Aikido is easier physically in allot of respects except breakfalls (because I am just a big dude)...Still... there are always a few bad tweaks here and there because of a poorly executed technique between usually a newbie and I... when I allow them to muscle through something and they try to jerk my arm out of my shoulder or hold on a split second too long with a throw.

Practice with a heavy Bokken (suburi) is of great benefit too as well as really focusing on breath control and using my entire center and RELAXING no matter what... Especially under physical duress...To much adrenaline makes your muscles more susceptible to injury in my experience. This aspect of practice...learning a more holistic approach... May go a long way towards prolonging my Aikido life.

As I progress I see the dire need to bring real Aiki into Aikido...It's health benefits from what I have seen are amazing. I met a 65 year old woman Chinese IMA practitioner that handled me like a rag doll earlier this year and she told me because of "Chi" she have not been sick or hurt in over 20 years!

William Hazen

Mark Freeman
08-06-2012, 10:13 PM
I would like to be like the CIMA practitioner at 65. Fit healthy and handling less supple others like the proverbial dolls. This can be achieved when working with the true fundamentals of aikido.

Despite being on the wrong side of my mid 50's, I feel fortunate that I can handle anything that is thrown at me as uke, it's part of the fun of aikido for me. However, for maximum health and bodily longevity, I think some apects of aikido and the way that is practiced, can have a detrimental effect on the body.

Of course it is up to uke to take care of themselves, that is a given. But repeated high falls, even on forgiving mats, or many over enthusiastically applied joint locks, can produce long term problems.

Things do take a bit longer to heal when you get older, but as the images show so graphically above, we owe it to ourselves to keep up our fitness levels as we age.

If we train well and train wisely, we can practice well into into old age. My own teacher is 82, he has 2 artificial hips and an artificial knee. He attributes these wonders of modern medicine, to his 'hard' training in Judo and Aikido. He has since eliminated the damage producing aspect of Aikido from his teaching. I appreciate being schooled in such a way.

Train well, train wisely,


08-11-2012, 05:28 PM
I am approaching 60 and have been athletic all of my life. It helped my transition into aikido and daily practice for most of the first decade of study made up for a relatively late start. recently i had my first injury and am face to face with my ego. As others have said, we must train more intelligently. Yes, we can do 99 of 100 koshi nage falls but that single bad fall disrupts our journey. I must embrace the changes in my body and as someone said earlier, "train smarter." O' Sensei has already demonstrated the path in his many films at different ages. My final thought is that we are wise to also embrace aiki weapons. I have been able to continue both that and iaido through my recuperation.

08-12-2012, 02:17 AM
Nearing 60 and I have picked up a constant companion that tells me what I can or can''t door, at least what I should or shouldn't do.. His name is Arthur and I can silence Mr. Ritis temporarily with Ibuprofen and heat.


08-12-2012, 07:15 AM
When we get old we just get sneaky.

Chris Evans
09-10-2012, 11:39 AM
A very good reason to keep up with intensive training:

impressive, but slightly confusing. Am I looking at brain xray photos?

And thank you.

I am a believer in ukemi training, the more high falls that makes you sweat, the better it's for your mind and body.
I am a neophyate in aikido, but no stanger to "air falls" in hapkido.
the #1 reason I am training less in karate and more in aikido is ukemi.

p.s. I also dream of XC mountain bike racing and surfing at 70

09-10-2012, 11:48 AM
impressive, but slightly confusing. Am I looking at brain xray photos?

Xray (or maybe MRI) of the bone and muscles in the thighs. That difference in muscle mass and bone density is a good reason to keep on with some kind of exercise with higher intensity.

Chris Evans
09-10-2012, 12:03 PM
Xray (or maybe MRI) of the bone and muscles in the thighs. That difference in muscle mass and bone density is a good reason to keep on with some kind of exercise with higher intensity.

thanks, yes , of course, "quad's"

use it or lose it -- mind & body, but not abuse the treasure that is you.

09-11-2012, 09:10 AM
funny thing... Nishio sensei was sometimes quoted for saying that high falls where not necessary after turning 40, but since I turned 40 I am finally beginning to enjoy those otherwise dreaded heavy impact clashes into the mat surface... I might still use my age to opt out of too many of them, but it IS getting easier for me to relax while being thrown, and as long as possible I will go on and allow myself to fly across the mats whenever possible.

Another thing: last weekend I attended a seminar with Ken Morinaga sensei. He teaches aikido and tai chi, and obviously have done a fair bit of yoga as well. He spend the better part of an hour on warm up and stretching for each training session, and I found myself in contact with muscles and tendrons that I didn't knew existed.

If I have a fraction of his flexibility and agility - not to mention timing and centered technique - when I reach the age he has now, then I would consider myself fortunate. Age is not preventing us from practicing or pushing our bodies. we just have to learn to push in a more gentle yet just as powerfull manner :)


10-15-2012, 04:41 PM
I'll preface this with the fact that I have only been doing Aikido for about 4 months so I consider myself still a "Tourist" and by no means any expert. I am a 42 y/o with the back of a 42 y/o. Yet I found swimming laps on my off days really helps with the sore joints. A good hard swim calms my brain, increases endurance, and helps flexibility. I don't think I could have got into Aikido without the last 3 years of lap swimming.