View Full Version : Physical Aikido

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Andrew Wilson
12-13-2002, 12:35 PM
I am currently just starting aikido classes, and from what I have read/seen, while the classes are very physical the emphasis isn't on physical prowess. more on grace and balance.

I am a near-future police officer however, and well, training physically is a big part of my life. I would imagine that "being fit" will help in aikido, as it does in fairly everything in life... but is there anything in particular physically that would be an advantage for aikido?

I'd like to incorperate anything that would help my training into my physical work out that I could. and, if possible, avoid the things that might hurt my aikido training (i.e stiffness in the shoulders, arms, etc...)

Any idea's?

12-13-2002, 12:54 PM
I'm very new to Aikido as well, I came from a bodybuilding/wrestling background and was this ever an eye opener for me. I've always relied on strength to overpower oponents and my first night they taught me how wrong that was. I fell for the infamous "Hold onto my wrist as tight as you can" seconds later I was on the ground thinking "How the hell did this happen". I've adapted my workouts to accomidate Aikido now, I focus more on flexabillity and endurance. It really seems to help out when I'm thrown and "trying" to preform Ukemi

Doug Mathieu
12-13-2002, 01:59 PM
Hi Andrew

I don't do any other special physical training myself but I think partner dancing and something like Yoga could be very useful.

Dancing may not be considered training but the leading, blending and posture work needed for that relates really well to Aikido blending, etc.

Yoga type of excersise should really help the flexibility and breathing work needed for Aikido. I've heard Pilates is really good too and someone in our Aikido group who has been doing some said there are some good connections to Aikido in it.

12-13-2002, 05:40 PM
I've been doing some running/sprinting training. More accurately interval training. For instance my typical workout consists of finding an area about 20 to 25 yards in length. If I can square it so much the better. I do 4 legs of 25 yards as follows:

1st leg - karioke

2nd leg - high step

3rd leg - backwards

4th leg - forward sprint

I then give myself 45 seconds to complete the run. Any time earlier than 45 seconds is rest time because I do a cycle every 45 seconds for 20 cycles. I average completing each cycle in around 35 seconds. Total workout is 25 - 30 minutes with a warm-up and cool-down.

Alternatively, I've done Kentucky's (what we used to call them) which are sprints done on a basketball count. You start at the baseline and go


free throw


mid court


far free throw


far baseline


I don't have times for this however as it's something I'm bringing back into my practice slowly.

I've also run through apple orchards while slaloming the trees. The most notable one was 1:30 sprints with roughly 30 seconds of rest.

I had to work up to these times but the concept is very useful for my Aikido and I'd guess for law enforcement as well. I started doing this because Aikido is often a lot of short, sometimes intense, spurts of action with small rests. I'd also guess that if you ever had to chase someone in law enforcement this type of training would help. I'm pretty much at the stage where I can go and go this way as long as I get that short 5 to 10 second rest.

On the other hand, I also believe in lifting weights.

Kevin Wilbanks
12-14-2002, 06:06 AM

That kind of workout is excellent, but I would be reluctant to recommend sprinting as an activity unless the person has some experience and training in proper sprint mechanics/form. Most people who aren't trained athletes would be injured in no time if they went from doing nothing or little, to doing the workouts you describe 3x/week. Personally, I put fast running intervals into my training, but almost never go into an all out sprint ('fifth gear'), for this reason.

A safer way to train is to use mixed intervals relying on a variety of activities which can be done all-out with less chance of injury, like jumping rope, stationary bike, steep bike hill-climbs, running up/down stairs, various calisthenics. I do use running as an interval, but I find that tacking a 10-15 second speed-up and slow-down onto each end of 30 second fast running interval has kept me injury free.

Kevin Wilbanks, CSCS

12-14-2002, 10:35 AM
I still run and skip rope to help with the physical endurance. Do pick-ups/wind-sprints. Keep your form/alignments and move from yoru center.

When lifting weights, keep you form, alignment, and center. Visualize (project Ki) the full extensions.

I find regular heavy bag work has kept me physical and added to being a fully committed Uke.

Learn to relax and play enviromental sensory awareness games by looking for anything out of place. Sorry, not so physical, but really worth while.

Until again,


12-14-2002, 01:24 PM
Kevin, I think you make some interesting points.

First, I probably should have used the word run in place of sprint. Itís more accurate. Also, I agree that most people would not be able to do that out of the gate, nor should they. I spent some time working up to it.

On the other hand, I tend to forget the average. I used to play a lot of basketball. I was decent at it but what got hammered home was just how good some folks were. I was nowhere near the elite (major college, pro, good Jr. College). I was, at my best, a low-end JC guy. Thing is, that still made me better than 90% of the folks who ever picked up a basketball but for my comparison group I was in the bottom percentiles. As such, I tend to forget just what average means in that realm.

The same thing probably applies to fitness.

Andrew Wilson
12-14-2002, 02:00 PM
Well, I am by no means your "average" person. I mean, I am training to be a cop :-P

Currently I lift 3-4 times a week, run every day. My cardio is really important, so that sprinting/running exercise might be very very benifical... I just don't know of any close basketball courts. (I am sure there are some)

As for the awareness drills, I would really love more suggestions on those. I was reading in a book "life lessons from an american sensei" about an exercise where he will group up the class and have them train in groups of three... at the end, he would require them to close their eyes and list the people training around them, so much as they could.

As an officer, I think that zanshin is one of THE most important aspects of my job... so anything I can do to train that further would be great.

got any idea's on that?

maybe that fits more into "Mental Aikido"? :)

12-14-2002, 03:20 PM
I just don't know of any close basketball courts. (I am sure there are some)
Andrew, it doesn't have to be precise. I do similar drills without a basketball court. If my memory serves me correctly a basketball court is 94' feet. The free throw line is 17' from the baseline. Midcourt would be 47'. You could just approximate it. I know my main drill is always approximated. I go from a bush to an outcropping from a garage. It's 70 something feet. The other day I did it an orchard with a 6 tree lap as my guide. The point for me is to be able to start, rest a few seconds and go again. How you do that is up to you. As Kevin said there are many alternatives.

Running might make sense for you because if you ever get on Cops you'll inevitably have to chase a car thief down. It's automatic, and surely you'd hate to have to talk to the camera while you were out of breath. :)

Kevin Wilbanks
12-14-2002, 04:01 PM
Probably the simplest, safest, most low-tech high intensity interval setup is to alternate fast rope jumping with running up and down stairs or a stationary bike - doing each interval for 30 seconds and allowing 30 seconds rest. The other advantage to alternating interval activities is that fatigue in particular muscles won't hold back your overall intensity. This protocol brings most of your aerobic fitness attributes up very fast and is also the best fat burning exercise protocol... literally almost 10 times better than continuous aerobics. Best to start with 10 intervals total, at moderate intensity, gradually working up to all-out intensity, then add intervals up to 20 minutes. For this style of workout, going past 20 minutes is of little benefit. Further increases come in the form of more intensity.

I just got back from doing a 20 minute HIIT in the park: rotating between running, jumprope, and med-ball situps. Did I mention the euphoric after-buzz? Ahhh..