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Chonin
07-16-2013, 04:25 PM
I'm sure this has been addressed before but I would appreciate any thoughts on the subject. I'm far from testing for my 4th Kyu but it will come with continued practice. Suwari waza is tough on the knees.

Advice?

Cliff Judge
07-16-2013, 04:33 PM
I'm sure this has been addressed before but I would appreciate any thoughts on the subject. I'm far from testing for my 4th Kyu but it will come with continued practice. Suwari waza is tough on the knees.

Advice?

Figure out what muscles are tight and/or weak, and take some time to warm and stretch them every day. use a foam roller or the like if they are particularly tight.

Practice sitting in seiza. You might want to practice squatting also, that seems like it has helped me.

Matt Fisher
07-16-2013, 07:37 PM
Suwari waza is tough on the knees.

Advice?

Back when my knees and body could do suwari waza, 5 minutes on a regular basis (even as little as once a week) made an enormous difference in how tough it was on my knees. The other thing that made a difference - and this is a complement to Cliff's suggestion about finding the muscles that are tight or weak - was learning at some point to keep my weight over my feet and moving my feet through the center point. Before that, I tended to swing my feet around and "lean" onto my knees. Both of those mistakes made suwari waza much more work and much harder on various points of my body (like knees).

Ikeda Sensei's video/DVD on suwari waza (titled "Za") is a good resource.

Matt

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 12:53 AM
Ikeda Sensei's video/DVD on suwari waza (titled "Za") is a good resource.

Matt

Hmm...and how are Ikeda's knees doing today?

Best,

Chris

PhilMyKi
07-17-2013, 05:34 AM
For me suwari waza is a good learning and conditioning tool. By this I mean at the absolute top level it encourages hip movement that when applied when standing makes technique better / cleaner and it is great for building core strength IMHO. But we, in the western world, do not kneel much beyond primary school so kneeling and moving around with grace it can be a big ask...

I don't mind little and often but honestly can not survive more than twenty minutes without my knees screaming out in discomfort. Besides hakama can be an expensive bit of kit and sliding and pivoting on a canvas covered mat wrecks the fabric at the knees :)

Walter Martindale
07-17-2013, 08:03 AM
Try to spend some time each day just sitting in seiza. back straight, good posture. As a "westerner" who didn't grow up using seiza as a regular seated posture, it will never be as comfortable for you (me too) as someone who, growing up in Japan, has lived it in his/her culture. I understand that modern Japan sees seiza less frequently used - I wonder if that's causing "westernization" of their knees?...

Hakama do cost - if you get the really fancy indigo-dyed cotton hakama, you'll wear through the knees fairly quickly. If you get the less expensive "Techron" (whatever that is) from, say, Tozando, they'll last longer, dye won't run, and you can even buy hakama with relatively permanent pleats. Wearing hakama for suwari-waza makes it easier on your knees because the gi pants and the hakama material tend to slip against each other more easily than your knees (especially when sweaty) and cotton pants slip over the material of the mats.

I found that when in dojo that let/required us to wear hakama my knees fared better. And yes, when the shihan decides to go on a 20 minute rant about how yudansha are expected to protect partners and mudansha and to pass on the best aikido we can, the knees HURT and the legs don't work that well for a few moments after getting back up.

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 09:15 AM
Try to spend some time each day just sitting in seiza. back straight, good posture. As a "westerner" who didn't grow up using seiza as a regular seated posture, it will never be as comfortable for you (me too) as someone who, growing up in Japan, has lived it in his/her culture. I understand that modern Japan sees seiza less frequently used - I wonder if that's causing "westernization" of their knees?...

My experience with Japanese - even the older generation, is that seiza isn't really any more comfortable for them than it is for anybody else. They're just a little more accustomed to the idea, that's all.

For example, making school children sit in seiza used to be a popular form of corporeal punishment.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
07-17-2013, 11:13 AM
My experience with Japanese - even the older generation, is that seiza isn't really any more comfortable for them than it is for anybody else. They're just a little more accustomed to the idea, that's all.

For example, making school children sit in seiza used to be a popular form of corporeal punishment.

Best,

Chris

The issue with many folks who did not grow up sitting seiza is not that it is uncomfortable, but that it is actually piercingly, acutely painful.

Different people's legs grow differently - I know plenty of Westerners who have long quads and hamstrings, small calves, and sufficiently flexible ankles to sit in seiza with no problem, even if they don't do it much until they are adults. But I have never heard from a Japanese person who actually felt intense pain sitting in seiza who had not had an injury.

Gerardo Torres
07-17-2013, 11:17 AM
My best advice for suwari waza is: don't do it. It's just bad for your knees and body. It's one of those things we do because we're told to do it (aka "tradition"), but other than "tempering the spirit through physical punishment" there is little to no martial benefit from training suwari waza that cannot be achieved standing. Mind you, I did a lot of suwariwaza in aikido... I'm just doing less and less of it these days as I try to avoid destroying my body like so many aikido veterans have.

If you must practice suwariwaza, some bits of advice:

Keep posture straight focusing balance from the spine rather than being double weighted and shift weight from knee to knee. This will relieve pressure from the knees as you move as the weight is better distributed and controlled.

Wear knee pads so knees don't grind too hard on the floor (not too thick ones as they might prop your posture back).

Keep everything connected; activate legs and arms connected to center, so when you move everything moves together. Do not move from the hips, move from the center in a connected manner. Connected legs (and arms) make you stronger and more efficient, so you don't tax individual body parts as much while moving. If you know how, spiraling and opening/closing the legs instead of just flexing would make you even stronger and more efficient.

Keep eyes up (don't look down on the floor in front of you). This will help you keep good posture.

Remain "active", as you move in suwari waza; do not let your hips go up and down too much as you walk, instead maintain hips at the same horizontal level as much as possible. (The same applies to tachi-waza btw: don't let the hips go up and down as you move.) Going from rest (letting the butt rest on or near the heels) then raising to a full step puts a lot of stress on the muscles and knees. Even if you're just sitting seiza, don't slouch or let the weight rest, remain "active" in a "ready" position; think of the iai-goshi posture which is a combative "ready" position.

Janet Rosen
07-17-2013, 12:28 PM
Darn good advice!
I even do my kokyudosa crosslegged nowadays (talk about learning the difference between hips and center...)
I will add: even more helpful than kneepads is adding additional padding to the dogi pants. I did a how to column on this in the Mirror many years ago - basically you make a couple of huge rectangular patches of cotton fabric to affix inside the pants legs and quilt into them a slightly smaller rectangle of Pellon Fleece. You position it just under where your knees are - you will notice that your pants legs slide up as you kneel so the padding really is needed lower than your knee when you are standing.
I did this back in the days when I still had good knees and it was wonderful for suwariwaza (and also awkward landings from ikkyo) - like pivoting on a potholder!

My best advice for suwari waza is: don't do it. It's just bad for your knees and body. It's one of those things we do because we're told to do it (aka "tradition"), but other than "tempering the spirit through physical punishment" there is little to no martial benefit from training suwari waza that cannot be achieved standing. Mind you, I did a lot of suwariwaza in aikido... I'm just doing less and less of it these days as I try to avoid destroying my body like so many aikido veterans have.

If you must practice suwariwaza, some bits of advice:

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 12:29 PM
But I have never heard from a Japanese person who actually felt intense pain sitting in seiza who had not had an injury.

I have. :D

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 12:38 PM
My best advice for suwari waza is: don't do it. It's just bad for your knees and body. It's one of those things we do because we're told to do it (aka "tradition"), but other than "tempering the spirit through physical punishment" there is little to no martial benefit from training suwari waza that cannot be achieved standing. Mind you, I did a lot of suwariwaza in aikido... I'm just doing less and less of it these days as I try to avoid destroying my body like so many aikido veterans have.

Personally, I don't think that it's really a tradition - it's a combination of smooth canvas mats (which encouraged the practice) and young students (whose knees could hold up to the training) after the war.

The young guys on smooth mats introduced a lot more movement than existed previously. If you look at Daito-ryu and other traditional schools there was very little of the moving around on your knees that you see in Aikido today.

Yasuo Kobayashi used to say that he was the one who introduced shikko as an exercise - in the 1950's.

People today are paying the price with their knees.

Best,

Chris

Gerardo Torres
07-17-2013, 12:52 PM
Personally, I don't think that it's really a tradition - it's a combination of smooth canvas mats (which encouraged the practice) and young students (whose knees could hold up to the training) after the war.

The young guys on smooth mats introduced a lot more movement than existed previously. If you look at Daito-ryu and other traditional schools there was very little of the moving around on your knees that you see in Aikido today.

Yasuo Kobayashi used to say that he was the one who introduced shikko as an exercise - in the 1950's.

People today are paying the price with their knees.

Best,

Chris
Very interesting and informative post Chris, thanks. The last time I saw Kobayashi sensei was when he visited my dojo back in the mid to late 90s. I still remember being impressed how a person of his age could move so smoothly and freely in suwari waza, as if he had rollers on his knees and feet! He seemed to enjoy that training so much that it gives weight to his claim. :)

Russ Q
07-17-2013, 03:09 PM
Hi all,

I find that if I practice suwari waza sparingly that it can help open my hips and is great at teaching you to move your whole body from center at once....that said, I don't like doing a lot of it and I've yet to run into some who says they enjoy it and/or has done it intensely for years without injury. It's a risky practice but most things are one way or another. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for you in your aikido "career"....

Cheers,

Russ

graham christian
07-17-2013, 04:59 PM
I have never seen injuries as a result yet have seen how easily damage can be done to the knees by those who don't do it properly.

There are no doubt reasons why and how it can damage the knees due mainly to not being used to using them in such a way and people like carpet fitters are a good example of those who after a while get knee trouble.

However, we are talking Aikido and from my view it's learning how to do it properly that is the main protection far and above all other 'theories'.

Firstly I would say it is well worth doing and much is learned from so doing which otherwise would be missed. Second would be a matter of when? The simple answer is when the person is ready and not before.

Thirdly I would say approach is the key. Approach meaning prior things to be in place and practiced first in order to get full benefit and freedom of movement and thus no damaging effect on the knees.

Just doing kokyudosa would be pre sawariwaza as an example and is a good way of getting the knees and feet used to such positioning as well as just sitting seiza for small periods and extending them.

Then in order to even attempt suwariwaza I personally would have to see the student comfortably doing taisabakI 180% back and forth continuously at ease.....from centre., Until a person can do this...from centre....then they will damge their knees if made to do lots of suwariwaza. So basically centre protects the knees is my motto.

Peace.G.

graham christian
07-17-2013, 05:15 PM
Personally, I don't think that it's really a tradition - it's a combination of smooth canvas mats (which encouraged the practice) and young students (whose knees could hold up to the training) after the war.

The young guys on smooth mats introduced a lot more movement than existed previously. If you look at Daito-ryu and other traditional schools there was very little of the moving around on your knees that you see in Aikido today.

Yasuo Kobayashi used to say that he was the one who introduced shikko as an exercise - in the 1950's.

People today are paying the price with their knees.

Best,

Chris

What about in the days of the samurai and the 'inner sanctoms' of the shogun or 'boss'. Isn't that where it originated? In other words it had an original purpose and was practiced. I also have seen Ueshiba doing plenty. Thus it has a history all of it's own and a reason. Seeing the reason is seeing the use. Swordsmen I am sure would sit seiza for a reason to do with these type of movements too.

Peace.G.

Gerardo Torres
07-17-2013, 05:39 PM
AFAIK samurai would never sit in seiza with their long swords in their belts, it would instead be placed on the side or disallowed while inside certain places and only able to carry their wakizashi (short sword).

graham christian
07-17-2013, 05:53 PM
AFAIK samurai would never sit in seiza with their long swords in their belts, it would instead be placed on the side or disallowed while inside certain places and only able to carry their wakizashi (short sword).

You think so? Have you seen many samurai movies? Have you seen sword drawing skills done from the knees?

When it comes to etiquette and the sword even the placement was based on the fact of not being able to take it as if drawing it. Once again...a reason for.

If you have reality on drawing a sword from the knees then you will see it's no different from standing.

That's why it's safer and indeed vital for a samurai to sit so in readiness.

That fella in lone wolf and cub demonstrated it quite well.

Peace.G.

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 06:00 PM
What about in the days of the samurai and the 'inner sanctoms' of the shogun or 'boss'. Isn't that where it originated? In other words it had an original purpose and was practiced. I also have seen Ueshiba doing plenty. Thus it has a history all of it's own and a reason. Seeing the reason is seeing the use. Swordsmen I am sure would sit seiza for a reason to do with these type of movements too.

Peace.G.

Traditionally there was only a limited amount of movement around on the knees - nothing like the amount that is done today.

If you watch Ueshiba in 1935, or even when he was older, he actually doesn't cover all that much ground on his knees.

Also, if you've done it, there's a big difference between moving on your knees on plain tatami (which is what everybody used to have) and the modern canvas or vinyl covered versions.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
07-17-2013, 06:30 PM
Traditionally there was only a limited amount of movement around on the knees - nothing like the amount that is done today.

If you watch Ueshiba in 1935, or even when he was older, he actually doesn't cover all that much ground on his knees.

Also, if you've done it, there's a big difference between moving on your knees on plain tatami (which is what everybody used to have) and the modern canvas or vinyl covered versions.

Best,

Chris

I don't know what you mean abt. traditionally and amount done today. What I do know is those who practiced it in the long distant past obviously did a lot of it but as I said they had a use and real reason for it. Maybe many nowadays don't know why they do it but just do as theiy're told.

In the old 1935 film of Ueshiba I would say he covers quite a lot of ground quite freely but obviously the gait is not as wide as could be if standing but there again doesn't need to be, especially when done by him.

Of course today the mats are much softer and that's all good as far as I'm concerned but perspective is the key once again. The old days of Japan didn't have cushion filled mats and trained specifically for terrain. Tatami actually would be harder than most grassy terrain.

But I did find it interesting once when reading how the guards of the shogun or daimyo etc. indoors trained in open hand moving from the knees as part of their job.

As I tried to explain in my earlier post the secret is moving from centre, turning around centre etc. This is what protects the knees. When done properly all 'weight' goes to centre and thus none is left on the knees.

Peace.G.

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 06:46 PM
I don't know what you mean abt. traditionally and amount done today. What I do know is those who practiced it in the long distant past obviously did a lot of it but as I said they had a use and real reason for it. Maybe many nowadays don't know why they do it but just do as theiy're told.

Well, it's not obvious to me. In everyday life people would only move short distances and not be spinning or turning under pressure. In traditional koryu - just look around at the various curriculum and method of practice. If they had to move around a lot...they stood up.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
07-17-2013, 07:11 PM
Well, it's not obvious to me. In everyday life people would only move short distances and not be spinning or turning under pressure. In traditional koryu - just look around at the various curriculum and method of practice. If they had to move around a lot...they stood up.

Best,

Chris

Mmmm. Interesting. I suppose it's down to types of training. When you watch for example samurai movies you see choreographed moves but still they are based on expertise. Whether it be azumi or lone wolf but notice there is lots of moving and turning. Real as I call it suwariwaza is or should be no different. All be that high grade.

If I look around at the various koryu or curriculum and methods of practice the many times I will just shake my head unfortunately. Even whilst standing I find many can't turn under pressure and thus to me don't understand some basic motion principles. There is actually a barrier to go through in order to freely do so, a mental barrier. Plus in my experience an incomplete understanding on the whole of the power of basic motions of aikido irrespective of technique. (taisabaki being one such)

Anyway, if doing suwariwaza it starts off nice and slow and technique by technique but eventually is or can be no different to multiple attacks from standing and if I may say so that when 'in the zone' so to speak it becomes easier than when standing, a strange yet illuminating experience.

Peace.G.

Matt Fisher
07-17-2013, 08:52 PM
Hmm...and how are Ikeda's knees doing today?



Chris,

Are his knees bad because suwari waza is inherently destructive, even in small amounts, or are his knees bad because of the extreme approach he took to training? Honestly, I don't know...

I never did suwari waza for long periods of time at once, unlike the 45 minutes solid of suwari waza that Ikeda Sensei did in a Saturday morning class at a seminar over 20 years ago. My personal experience was that the video/DVD was a good source of a range of practices that I could use - for 5 minutes or so at a time - to focus on and improve various aspects of my suwari waza.

Matt

PS - For the purpose of complete clarity, I had to stop doing suwari waza about 8 to 10 years ago not because it had damaged my knees but because I have muscular dystrophy and the muscle deterioration had reached the point where I couldn't move properly anymore. At that point, doing suwari waza meant that I was moving wrong and definitely NOT doing my knees any good.

Chris Li
07-17-2013, 09:34 PM
Chris,

Are his knees bad because suwari waza is inherently destructive, even in small amounts, or are his knees bad because of the extreme approach he took to training? Honestly, I don't know...

It's probably a combination of both of those and some other things that I can think of - but suwari waza almost certainly figures into it in a major way, try asking most orthopedists and see what they say.

Best,

Chris

PaulF
07-18-2013, 03:40 AM
Interesting thread.

Suwari waza doesn't feature in our syllabus, thankfully. Looking at some of our seniors in their 60s and 70s with serious knee issues I can understand why.

We do some occasionally hanmi handachi (birthday beastings). The long term state of my knees (which weren't great before I started) is the only potential downside I see with Aikido.

Joe Bowen
07-18-2013, 07:29 AM
Yasuo Kobayashi used to say that he was the one who introduced shikko as an exercise - in the 1950's.

People today are paying the price with their knees.

Best,

Chris

But even at 77 years of age, Yasuo Kobayashi's shikko and suwari practice is better then just about anyone else. Doesn't seem to have crippled him much if at all; so perhaps folks need to take a better look at how he was moving to better understand how to avoid the price of their knees. Somewhere on YouTube there is a video of him explaining a part of these exercises a few years ago, I'll see if I can locate it and post it here.

Chris Li
07-18-2013, 09:16 AM
But even at 77 years of age, Yasuo Kobayashi's shikko and suwari practice is better then just about anyone else. Doesn't seem to have crippled him much if at all; so perhaps folks need to take a better look at how he was moving to better understand how to avoid the price of their knees. Somewhere on YouTube there is a video of him explaining a part of these exercises a few years ago, I'll see if I can locate it and post it here.

Of course - and then there are those people who smoke a pack a day and live to 100. I think that you have to take a look at what's happening in the general population. The fact that there are some exceptions to a practice that is generally harmful doesn't mean that the practice is safe.

Best,

Chris

Walter Martindale
07-18-2013, 09:44 AM
AFAIK samurai would never sit in seiza with their long swords in their belts, it would instead be placed on the side or disallowed while inside certain places and only able to carry their wakizashi (short sword).

Hmm. I wonder, then, where iaido fits in - all of the kata I've watched (and the one kata I've tried) in iaido start with a sword drawn from seiza...
Walter

phitruong
07-18-2013, 10:00 AM
i am thinking we should change the "killing knee practice" to the practice of doing it sitting on an office chair with rollers. now a day, we sit more than kneeling, so the chance that we get attack while sitting in a chair is much higher. so if we switch to practice on chair with rollers or without rollers, then we can kill two birds with a shotgun so to speak. for example, if you sit in a meeting room and your meeting mate reach across you to grab the last donut, you should be able to intercept the grab, took away the donut, put your office mate into a kotegaeshi, and proceed to eat the donut.

wonder what the japanese term for practice on office chair. :D

Gerardo Torres
07-18-2013, 11:23 AM
Hmm. I wonder, then, where iaido fits in - all of the kata I've watched (and the one kata I've tried) in iaido start with a sword drawn from seiza...
Walter
Hi Walter,

I'm sure all those iai schools have their reasons for training drawing from seiza. Emphasis on training, as opposed to actually representing an actual situation that occurred (as in samurai in seiza with their katana still in their obi). It's not all from seiza though. There are iai schools with a sizable standing iai curriculum. Also, schools like Katori Shinto ryu have iai but none from seiza afaik.

Walter Martindale
07-18-2013, 11:53 AM
Hi Walter,

I'm sure all those iai schools have their reasons for training drawing from seiza. Emphasis on training, as opposed to actually representing an actual situation that occurred (as in samurai in seiza with their katana still in their obi). It's not all from seiza though. There are iai schools with a sizable standing iai curriculum. Also, schools like Katori Shinto ryu have iai but none from seiza afaik.

You're probably right, I've only seen limited iaido and been through only one kata (although I was taught the kata by my (late) aikido sensei and observed the same kata 10 years later when an iai school was starting up in a different city. I wasn't around when people carried swords, I don't think any of my past lives have been in sword carrying countries, either - not katana, anyway. (and, no, I don't really believe in reincarnation)

Anyhoo... seiza/shikko/hanmi-handachi/etc are quite popular in Aikikai aikido as a way to train posture, hip strength, and to develop body movement. I try to limit the amount of it that I do largely because my knees have had a beating over the years - but after 17 years of aikido I don't recall my knees being worse than at the start - the skin was tougher, but no worse in terms of ligament, tendon, and cartilage... (and I'm not tiny - been knocking around 220 lb/100 kg for the last 10 years - not proud of that, but...)

Cliff Judge
07-18-2013, 12:09 PM
Hi Walter,

I'm sure all those iai schools have their reasons for training drawing from seiza. Emphasis on training, as opposed to actually representing an actual situation that occurred (as in samurai in seiza with their katana still in their obi). It's not all from seiza though. There are iai schools with a sizable standing iai curriculum. Also, schools like Katori Shinto ryu have iai but none from seiza afaik.

Seiza wasn't really a thing until the Edo period...I've read that it was associated with the spread in popularity of tea ceremony. In the warring states period warriors sat on their butts with their legs folded when they were in polite company.

Not to put too fine a point on it, though, but:
This is not seiza, and it is not even the iai-goshi posture some iaido schools practice, this is hiza.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fnS4l2wrqQo) But I wouldn't give anybody crap for calling this kneeling.

Iaido made inroads into the west before pioneering Western practitioners got into koryu and spread knowledge to non-Japanese language communities, and there was this very scathing rebuttal of claims by iaido practitioners to be practicing "authentic samurai swordsmanship" that reverberates a bit to this day. A warrior sitting in seiza with a long sword is not a real combat situation, seiza is not a combative posture, iai goshi (one leg under the butt, one out to the side) is not a combative posture, Zen was not popular among warriors until there wasn't much war, the Edo period saw a widespread, general degredation of combat skill and efficacy of training methods and arts founded in that period are "flowery swordplay," etc.

I figure it's just because the needs of society changed and the warrior culture changed with them. At some point these guys decided they should spend a lot of time practicing drawing their swords from seiza as a way of organizing and developing their spirit.

To get back somewhat to the original thread...in iaido there is not as much moving around in seiza as in Aikido suwariwaza. Nor koryu for that matter.

But there are a lot of movements and postures that would be considered orthopedically verboten these days. Lots of moving into and out of very low postures with knee advanced way out past the toes, lots of bending the knees to lower the center, while keeping the back very straight. Sitting with the butt completely on one or both heels, and then exploding to a standing position. I generally maintain the view that koryu arts expected a degree of flexibility and strength in the legs that seems much less common in modern non-Japanese than in modern Japanese.

Gerardo Torres
07-18-2013, 12:34 PM
This is not seiza, and it is not even the iai-goshi posture some iaido schools practice, this is hiza.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fnS4l2wrqQo)
Yeah this is what I had in mind about combat ready position. Wasn't sure what this was called, (tate?)-hiza or iai-goshi.

Gerardo Torres
07-18-2013, 12:53 PM
Sosuishi-ryu (so the video says) techniques applied from seated position:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeki2y-r-Dc

As others have noted about these old schools, not much moving around on the knees compared to today's aikido.

Cliff Judge
07-18-2013, 01:54 PM
Sosuishi-ryu (so the video says) techniques applied from seated position:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeki2y-r-Dc

As others have noted about these old schools, not much moving around on the knees compared to today's aikido.

I love it how that school has techniques where you grab somebody's wrists and then...you kill them. :D

Here's an old clip of a really interesting school that teaches squad-level archery, Satsuma Hekiryu Koshiya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhJotVk7nGk&feature=share&list=PL4757F3BF1BDC7B1B). Watch how these guys move around. I don't think I would last a single training session doing that, I wouldn't be able to walk off the field.

graham christian
07-18-2013, 04:20 PM
Sosuishi-ryu (so the video says) techniques applied from seated position:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeki2y-r-Dc

As others have noted about these old schools, not much moving around on the knees compared to today's aikido.

Ueshiba insisted on suwariwaza so there was much more done when he was present. I hope there is plenty nowadays, it's one third of Aikido.

It's not 'old school' it's fundamental.

Maybe due to such moaning about knees folk lose it's purpose and indeed reality. Or maybe they were never taught.

Peace.G.

Chris Li
07-18-2013, 04:32 PM
Ueshiba insisted on suwariwaza so there was much more done when he was present. I hope there is plenty nowadays, it's one third of Aikido.


Sure he did - but if you look at what he actually did, there was less actual movement on the knee than there is in most modern suwari-waza. More than that, look back to Daito-ryu and there's even less movement - back before the prevelence of smooth canvas covered mats.

Regardless, the fact that he may have done something doesn't make it healthy for you. He also participated in static stretching - which studies now show to be ineffective at best and harmful at worst, and suffered from various health issues related to diet.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
07-18-2013, 04:48 PM
Sure he did - but if you look at what he actually did, there was less actual movement on the knee than there is in most modern suwari-waza. More than that, look back to Daito-ryu and there's even less movement - back before the prevelence of smooth canvas covered mats.

Regardless, the fact that he may have done something doesn't make it healthy for you. He also participated in static stretching - which studies now show to be ineffective at best and harmful at worst, and suffered from various health issues related to diet.

Best,

Chris

Static stretching is bad? What genius said that? Probably something you're presenting out of context I would say. Plus you cannot take something ie: diet or whatever as a reason not to take what that person said seriously in his field of expertise.

Why are you keeping on with amount 'movement'? The subject is doing suwariwaza. What exactly do you mean abt. 'less movement on the knee compared to 'modern'? It seems to me you are saying something which doesn't mean anything. Perhaps you could explain.

Peace.G.

Chris Li
07-18-2013, 05:22 PM
Static stretching is bad? What genius said that? Probably something you're presenting out of context I would say. Plus you cannot take something ie: diet or whatever as a reason not to take what that person said seriously in his field of expertise.

Why are you keeping on with amount 'movement'? The subject is doing suwariwaza. What exactly do you mean abt. 'less movement on the knee compared to 'modern'? It seems to me you are saying something which doesn't mean anything. Perhaps you could explain.

Peace.G.

There's quite a lot of science showing that static stretching isn't what people used to think it was - here's a brief summary of the issues: http://saveyourself.ca/articles/stretching.php

As for diet not being in his field of expertise, I agree - orthopedics wasn't either.

More movement on the knees means more stress less movement means more stress. The type of movements you see also tend to be different in more modern Aikido - many more turning and spinning movements.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
07-18-2013, 07:00 PM
There's quite a lot of science showing that static stretching isn't what people used to think it was - here's a brief summary of the issues: http://saveyourself.ca/articles/stretching.php

As for diet not being in his field of expertise, I agree - orthopedics wasn't either.

More movement on the knees means more stress less movement means more stress. The type of movements you see also tend to be different in more modern Aikido - many more turning and spinning movements.

Best,

Chris

Those articles abt. stretching are to me mainly just another example of scholarly nonsense and result in statements like you gave in the previous post ie: that it does nothing at best and harm at worst'.

The only other thing I can see is that otherwise it's down to people not even understanding what was originally said or found and thus loads of experts start appearing with stuff like you reference above. The first thing on that list says even stretching is not necessary at all complete with examples of those who 'don't do it'. Well if you wan't to believe that you will believe anything is how I look at it.

After reading or using computer or many things done in a bent or uncomfortable position a person then stretches. You yawn and stretch, there's hundreds of times a person stretches and all to a better condition as a result. So that so called 'mindblowing data about stretching' is nothing of the sort and only needed for those who believed stretching did something it didn't do, in other words misinformed people. It does not equal stretching is bad or harmful in any way and such statements to me are usual stupidity used just to get attention like a newspaper headline. Just like anything else including drinking water...doing it the wrong way or too much etc. is harmful.

Plus perspective....have you seen damage done by not stretching? I have. Boy are people gullible. A good article would merely say what the purpose of stretching is, the why? the ways, the benefits, etc. and then any intelligent person could see when it was necessary and also which stretching wasn't. Simple.

Many more turning in modern Aikido on the knees? Well I can assure you that stress on the knees has nothing to do with turning or less turning so your theory is misinformed. In fact the whole view of suwariwaza and knees given on here is false. Japanese seiza translated means sitting. Have you ever wondered why? Why isn't it called kneeling? Suwariwaza should have nothing to do with knees so the focus on such shows me a lack of reality.

So 1) Suwariwaza, whether with lots of turning or very little turning has nothing to do with stress on knees.
2) Believing it does leads people to believe they are doing things from the knees and thus just makes their 'problem' worse.

Peace.G.

Chris Li
07-18-2013, 07:11 PM
Well, that's it for me - back to my scholarly nonesense.

Best,

Chris

graham christian
07-18-2013, 07:22 PM
O'K. I'll go visit my ballet friend and then my yoga friend and then take the dog for a swim after which he has a good stretch and shake.

Meanwhile I'll teach people how to do without damaging their knees.

Peace.G.

Michael Hackett
07-18-2013, 08:12 PM
Ah, Chris, once more you looked into the abyss.........

Devon Smith
07-18-2013, 11:17 PM
For what it's worth, some input from Aikido's cousin here.

In Hakkoryu, suwari waza is used only as a way of teaching by isolating the upper body, much for the reasons Philip described on page one. There is little lower body (knee) movement involved until the aggressor has already lost their balance or has otherwise been overcome.

In this way it's by design that a pupil should work hard at the application of a technique from seiza, because there are important lessons that may be overlooked when the lower body comes into play with the same techniques while standing. The goal with suwari waza, though it can be frustrating, is to make a pupil work harder to understand and really grasp some of the intricacies without relying on the lower body and footwork.

Phi, we even have the office chair waza covered! It's called in short, "kiza dori". See the images 32/34.You can't tell because of the hakama, but the poor fellow is sitting in a plush, expensive office chair while being assaulted. Sorry, you don't get to see what happens to the bully in these photos, but he will never steal a donut again.

http://home.comcast.net/~shinzan/morote.jpg

Devon

sakumeikan
07-19-2013, 01:07 AM
Hmm. I wonder, then, where iaido fits in - all of the kata I've watched (and the one kata I've tried) in iaido start with a sword drawn from seiza...
Walter

Dear Walter,
While there are forms of Iaido/Batto Ho which indeed start from suwariwaza there are also forms which start from standing eg Munen Shinden Ryu. cheers, Joe.P
Ps Mike Flynn 6th Dan Shihan has produced an excellent set of dvds on Iaido. Anyone doing this discipline will be pleased by the content and standard of the waza being shown therein.

Walter Martindale
07-19-2013, 06:39 AM
Re: Stretching.
That great long article about stretching with its citations rather parallels the advice that's going around the ranks of international competitive sport where it's a really bad thing to injure an athlete.

Injure an aikido person and - boo-hoo - a few training sessions are missed and someone limps around work with "ooh I pulled my groin but.. grab my wrist".

Injure a professional or Olympic athlete and either an income or a decade's training is lost. I'll go with the academic claptrap..

Cliff Judge
07-19-2013, 07:23 AM
There's quite a lot of science showing that static stretching isn't what people used to think it was - here's a brief summary of the issues: http://saveyourself.ca/articles/stretching.php


FWIW, the idea that stretching can increase muscle flexibility is upheld in this essay.


Stretching can increase flexibility.


Seems to me sitting in seiza and moving around with shikko are the best candidates in Aikido for a reason to increase flexibility.

Not that this was Ueshiba's reason for leading his classes with the classic static stretches, of course, or that this is a general affirmation of static stretching as Graham is looking for, but on the original topic...if you want to do suwariwaza more easily and with less damage, a good stretching routine might be good to look into.

Millsy
07-19-2013, 07:34 AM
Dear Walter,
While there are forms of Iaido/Batto Ho which indeed start from suwariwaza there are also forms which start from standing eg Munen Shinden Ryu. cheers, Joe.P
Ps Mike Flynn 6th Dan Shihan has produced an excellent set of dvds on Iaido. Anyone doing this discipline will be pleased by the content and standard of the waza being shown therein.

The way things were explained to me was that seiza was not a practical position for iaido ie. not one that would have been seen in everyday samurai life. But we practice it in the initial forms because it builds leg strength and form needed for the more practical tate-hiza (half seiza half cross-legged) which was the way you would have sat in armor (but difficult to start with), then move to standing forms.

graham christian
07-19-2013, 08:17 AM
Well here's my advice. Start off with common sense, that's the starting point before being taken in by some 'experts' statement.

Common sense says there is a natural reason for stretching. Look around you and you will see people, animals etc. stretching naturally. Look at yoga and ballet and areas where it's already down to a fine art.

Then you will see there is nothing wrong and in fact there is something right about stretching. Then you have a good base from which to study what's being said rather than being a 'lemming'.

So actually it's a no brainer that stretching is good so the questions about it are not whether it is or not but rather when it is and why? Then move to how?

Unfortunately common sense can be an abyss to some;)

Next suwariwaza. Why? What does it do that's so special? What exactly are you exercising and learning? What's the basic reason?

Once again I find lack of understanding the reason for much discourse all off the point.

It is exercising a part that I have discovered on this board anyway in the past and also in my experience meeting all except for Japanese, a part that people have little reality on. This part is Koshi.

To most the only reality they have on Koshi is based on something given the name like koshiwaza. Thus they don't even know the significance of it and use of it other than for throwing over the hips. I am always amazed by this lack of knowledge.

Suwariwaza is actually learning to use koshi along with centre. It also results in great posture for koshi is the base of good posture, martially too. So you learn to experience koshi, use koshi, learn about koshi, move fluidly from koshi and if you are into the spiritual then join up the missing dots relating to such. Thus a basic. It's also the base of relaxation....koshi.

One third of Aikido. Many I've met... one third missing.

Now when it comes to knees, ahhhh, the old 'excuse'. Back to common sense. Common sense says here in the west and many places other than people are not used to their body being put in such a position. Even sitting seiza is uncomfortable. Well with seiza it's a matter of gradually stretching those tendons until it's no problem. But knees? There's a problem for they can be a bit delicate when not used to it. So actually it is something to give some consideration to but not to use as an excuse. The solution is actually very simple and again common sense.

Get the knees used to it, comfortable with it, acclimatized to it, happy with it. How? By using thicker and thus softer mats ie: more springy. The knees love it. Then meanwhile the ligaments and all parts used get used to it and build up appropriately. The rest is based purely on learning to move from centre and the balancing of use of koshi whilst moving.

Enjoy the abyss.;)

Peace.G.

ken king
07-19-2013, 08:47 AM
Static stretching before a work out can be dangerous. It is important to warm your muscles up before stretching. Even the U.S. army revamped their physical training manuals and daily exercises to do light warm ups instead of stretching before a work out. Cool downs now consist of stretching to lengthen the muscles and tendons after the work out. This change was made in order to reduce the number of injuries sustained during physical training after careful study over many years. Science doesn't lie, whether or not you choose to accept is another story.

Cliff Judge
07-19-2013, 09:31 AM
Static stretching before a work out can be dangerous. It is important to warm your muscles up before stretching. Even the U.S. army revamped their physical training manuals and daily exercises to do light warm ups instead of stretching before a work out. Cool downs now consist of stretching to lengthen the muscles and tendons after the work out. This change was made in order to reduce the number of injuries sustained during physical training after careful study over many years. Science doesn't lie, whether or not you choose to accept is another story.

Interestingly, the science apparently says that you can't lengthen muscle and tendons and that stretching doesn't reduce injuries. :)

KEM
07-19-2013, 09:31 AM
My main issue isn't my knees (thankfully) its my toes! They don't bend THAT far back. I've tried to stretch them, tilt them etc. Just end up with very sore joint and no additional flexibility. So my suwari is done with my feet 'flat' against the mat...bad form I know. I have found it very instructional and in cases where I'm working with kids being able to move well in suwari is helpful to adjust to their height.

graham christian
07-19-2013, 09:55 AM
Static stretching before a work out can be dangerous. It is important to warm your muscles up before stretching. Even the U.S. army revamped their physical training manuals and daily exercises to do light warm ups instead of stretching before a work out. Cool downs now consist of stretching to lengthen the muscles and tendons after the work out. This change was made in order to reduce the number of injuries sustained during physical training after careful study over many years. Science doesn't lie, whether or not you choose to accept is another story.

Before the revamp they were right and after they are right and when the next phaze comes along they will be right too.

Not stretching can be dangerouus...how about that? That's actually more true.

So saying something CAN be doesn't mean it is. Drinking water CAN be dangerous.

With common sense introduced then there would only be one rule...stretch when necessary. Obviously big brother feels the need to tell you whats right and wrong and thus gives such rules.

Another basic is what do you mean by warm up? Stretching is or should be part of warm up. So once again it's down to knowing why? and how? It's not down to you musn't.

Plus why would someone stretch a muscle? Who said you must stretch muscles? Once again if that is a view that you have been using no wonder it all went pear shaped.

No doubt some expert and indeed 'fad' emerged along the way and everyone followed it and then further down the line noticed the damage and then went back to the same old experts and come up with a new fad. Then further down the line it's noticed damge occuring due to not doing so and then back to the drawing board.

There is more damage done by not stretching than by stretching so it's best to look at that.

Stretching IS warming up the tendons. Stretching is warming up therefor. Using the muscles is warming up the muscles. It's all warm up. It's all common sense.

The key is actually very simple and as yet I don't see anyone pointing it out. Why? Maybe it's too obvious. I have heard experts explain what they mean to do with stretching and it's possible adverse effects and why? and it's all to do with a simple thing yet most seem to disregard that important obvious thing and jump on some imaginary bandwagon reinforced by some new rules or orders.

The simple thing the 'researchers' originally were stating was that you should exercise or warm up or stretch only those parts which were going to be used. Simple.

A gun slinger may stretch his fingers or shake his hands first. Simple.

A golfer does a few practice swings first. Simple.

Wrist stretching exercises are well worth it if you are going to receive some kotegaishi. Simple.

The point is to remove tension and tightness. That's the whole point of warm up and stretching. That's the whole point in life too which is done naturally by you, animals and anyone you meet in everyday life anywhere on the planet. Common sense.

Expertise isn't the problem. Scientists isn't the problem. Scholars isn't the problem. Foolowing such at the expense of common sense is the problem.

Even formula one cars go through a warm up, exercising the parts which are going to be in play.

Geeze...people love demonizing things.

Peace.G.

graham christian
07-19-2013, 10:34 AM
Interestingly, the science apparently says that you can't lengthen muscle and tendons and that stretching doesn't reduce injuries. :)

Cliff, interesting only because people believe such nonsense in the first place and don't know what stretching is for or even what it is really.

So firstly stretching does reduce injuries.

Thinking stretching is about lengthening muscle or tendons is a false definition and so viewed from that and acted upon as that would cause injury but that is acting on a false definition. In other words stupid.

When your neck feels tight what do you do? When any part of your body feels tight in fact...what do you do? Yes you stretch it.

Are you tryuing to make muscles longer or tendons longer? No. So how on earth can people believe such nonsense in the first place?

Yoga stretches, in ballet they stretch and boy do they stretch. Do any of those folk say it's to make anything longer? No.

Words used by such folk are suppleness or such terminology. So we have two things happening..removing tightness or tension and on the plus side done as a discipline to increase suppleness, pliability.

So we see stretching is to do with these two things. Static stretching before doing something is thus obviously just a simple warm up, removing any tension or tightness. I don't care who the expert is but by demonstration if I was to say to them I was going to apply a strangle hold for example I would see them immediately do something stretching wise to do with their neck, an automatic reaction. Getting it ready. That's what stretching does...get the parts ready for action.

So we see stretching is to do with readying in the form of releasing tension and restoring normal pliability. Bottom line.

Normal pliability allows energy to pass through without damaging. Simple sense. Like taking any kinks out of the hose pipe.

By the way, stretching muscles is a thing...it exists...do you know where that exists?

It exists in body building and weight lifting. It's a mechanic of building extra muscle mass. In fact it's all to do with overstretching whilst tense, an interesting mechanic. The fibres are broken on purpose in order to make the body repair and increase the size. That's why they say no pain no gain.

If I go even deeper then we would be looking at muscles themselves and tendons themselves and a factor which relates to stretching and that factor as I said is pliability and suppleness. So what is it called? Elasticity.

They have or rather should have optimum elasticity and the main reason for them not having such is not purely down to exercise. Their are nutrients. The only reason you eat is for nutrients and the rest is passed out as waste. Certain nutrients are thus needed for the optimum elasticity of muscles and tendons. A mineral called magnesium is a prime example.

Thus it's good to see the whole picture.

Peace.G..

ken king
07-19-2013, 10:59 AM
Interestingly, the science apparently says that you can't lengthen muscle and tendons and that stretching doesn't reduce injuries. :)

Fair enough, I stand corrected!

phitruong
07-19-2013, 12:14 PM
Interestingly, the science apparently says that you can't lengthen muscle and tendons and that stretching doesn't reduce injuries. :)

no amount of stretching and/or strengthening will reduce injuries from stupidity.

Rob Watson
07-19-2013, 12:17 PM
Confusing range of motion movements with stretching does not help clarify anything. But, I don't base my understanding of martial arts on "samurai" movies either. I do like watching "Zatoichi" tho ...

phitruong
07-19-2013, 12:31 PM
But, I don't base my understanding of martial arts on "samurai" movies either. I do like watching "Zatoichi" tho ...

hey, i have learned how to do reverse grip drawing and noto from watching Zatoichi. although, i almost changed my religion with my unsharpen iaito. it was a close call! :D

old Zatoichi or new?

graham christian
07-19-2013, 01:41 PM
Confusing range of motion movements with stretching does not help clarify anything. But, I don't base my understanding of martial arts on "samurai" movies either. I do like watching "Zatoichi" tho ...

That's stretching it;)

Mifune.....master,

Peace. G.

Gerardo Torres
07-19-2013, 02:42 PM
hey, i have learned how to do reverse grip drawing and noto from watching Zatoichi. although, i almost changed my religion with my unsharpen iaito. it was a close call! :D

old Zatoichi or new?
Hey, what self-respecting sword student hasn't tried the left-handed draw from Sanjuro? :D

Zatoichi, I like both old and new. Takeshi "Beat" Kitano is an extremely talented artist and his Zatoichi re-imagining is pretty good if eccentric and often surreal.

And iaito are pointy, they can hurt! :o

Chonin
07-19-2013, 04:24 PM
Thanks for the feedback. More Shikko, Seiza(improving duration), stretching, walking and weight loss.

Michael Varin
07-19-2013, 06:04 PM
I'm sure this thread was a great help to the OP...

Can someone please explain to me from an anatomical, kinesthetic, and physiological point of view how seiza/shikko/suwariwaza damages the internal structure of one's knees. Because I don't think that it does. Abrasion and bruising to the skin definitely, but doesn't give someone bad knees.

Regarding stretching and warm ups:

If we kept ourselves healthy no warm up would be necessary on most occasions. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are not healthy, and then proceed to add poorly performed physical activity in too large a quantity on top of it.

graham christian
07-19-2013, 06:47 PM
I'm sure this thread was a great help to the OP...

Can someone please explain to me from an anatomical, kinesthetic, and physiological point of view how seiza/shikko/suwariwaza damages the internal structure of one's knees. Because I don't think that it does. Abrasion and bruising to the skin definitely, but doesn't give someone bad knees.

Regarding stretching and warm ups:

If we kept ourselves healthy no warm up would be necessary on most occasions. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are not healthy, and then proceed to add poorly performed physical activity in too large a quantity on top of it.

Very simple really. You ever twisted an ankle? In suwariwaza the knees are now your 'feet.' Put all your weight on a foot and twist around and you'll cause damage.

Then there is the fact of the knees are not built as a joint the same as feet and can be a tender point for some but basically it means they need to get used to it.

Done correctly I agree with you that it doesn't give bad knees and in fact will make them stronger but it is best to also be aware of the various factors that can lead to damage.

I also agree with the point you make about health and I have also said so myself, not that I expect many to know about too much to do with that especially when it comes to joints and nutrition but as you say health then it's best to know from that viewpoint what the problems for some are.

For instance....I have trained with weight lifters and carpet fitters. These two things are where lots of knee damage has usually already been done before they attempt any suwariwaza. Thus they can find it very uncomfortable. So it's not always just down to assuming all knees and conditions of knees are the same.

Technically the damage has been caused by too much stress being put on their knees in their 'work' or activity. What damage is done? Well ligament strains is the usual thing and over time this actually causes build up of calcium deposits in their knees which in turn interferes with knee operation. As you see this is thus internal over time.

I remember one weight lifter who started many years ago and he carried on and did very well for he is now the top student at my old dojo. However, he had problems doing anything from the knees even though he was like hercules unchained. Anyway with advice he went to get it all checked out and low and behold he found what we said to be true. He actually had an op with a local anesthetic in a hospital and I always remember his description. He said they pulled out a white disc from behind his kneecap....made of calcium deposits buildup.

It's ok for youngsters but but only apparent later in life when you find out you have been doing something incorrectl;y for years and now suffering the reality.

So acting from fear to me is not the answer for that leads only to voices shouting about how dangerous and damaging things are. No, acting from sense means be aware of the 'wrong ways', be aware of the correct ways and also be aware that things can actually be strengthened.

Peace.G.