View Full Version : Practising Aikido without ukemi?

Please visit our sponsor:

10-17-2000, 05:48 AM
Hey all-

I've got a question, hopefully someone has some experience that relates to this:

A good friend of mine in the dojo recently damaged his back rather badly.
Right now the prognosis he gets from every doctor he's talked to basically boils down to this:
"Stay away from the martial arts. Forever." This person identifies himself very strongly with aikido, to the point of learning japanese, attending university (and aikido) in Tokyo etc..
Basically he's down to to alternatives:
Either quit aikido entirely, or show up in classes, without doing any ukemi, and only throw when he's able to keep his back straight and still.

I watched him during class yesterday, and he didn't seem very happy with being only "half there" during practice.

Also, in the long run, what could be the effect of never taking ukemi, only throwing?

Comments on this situation?

10-17-2000, 06:28 AM
I can imagine how painfull it is for someone that dedicated to the art.But if he's getting the same prognosis from several doctors he'd better listen to them, wouldn't you say?
I can recall a statement made by John Stevens sensei:"If you can walk, you can do aikido." Also he said that he once had a one armed man in his class and with adjustments to the techniques he could practice along with the group.
Several techniques can be done with one hand.So, your friend is down to those two alternatives you stated wich are fine, because I think he can't do much more in order to keep his back ok.

Never taking ukemi; well you do miss a great deal of aikido because the true execution of a technique can't be seen, it has to be felt.So in that way you're missing a piece of undestanding of the technique itself, and from aikido.
It's really sad for your friend.
Taking ukemi is a very important element of aikido, I'm sorry.


10-17-2000, 07:16 AM
to aikido than just ukemi. Does he have a problem being uke for pins as well as throws? those aren't all that painful on the back unless he can't bend over at all. Maybe for throws he could be Uke to the real new guys who need to move slowly, who aren't going to toss him hard and who could benifit by working with someone with experience.

Human tendency is to get upset, frustrated and give up. A more mature personality will make adjustments and do what is necessary, working around the problem. He doesn't want to wind up unable to walk at all right?

Dan Hover
10-17-2000, 07:51 AM
before they get more frustrated on the mat by only being half way there is there a time for re-hab? perhaps quitting Aikido isn't the solution but giving it a rest to let your back heal, then coming back is. Remember we have our entire lives to train. losing a few months, to gain a few years is a great bargain. If they push it, it could get worse. Give it time.

George S. Ledyard
10-17-2000, 07:55 AM
Tell your friend to check out http://www.prolotherapy.com
it is fairly cutting edge stuff. One of my students is a doctor of rehabilitative medicine and she is having near miraculous results with this. Might help.

10-17-2000, 11:05 AM
Sensei Judith Robinson teaches a no-falls class for seniors in Tucson. You can see a profile on her and get web and email information at http://www.aanc.org
go to the dojo directory, hers is the first listing

10-17-2000, 11:08 PM
Well, I don't know how many doctors he's
seen, but I can think of 2 things to keep in mind:
Doctors are people too, and they don't know EVERYthing... if they are talking about a risk of paralysis, they could very well just feel fine saying "no martial arts forever" just to be safe. Me and my brother have both had dentists tell us to get root canals, although we haven't and nothing ever happens... OK that is a little different, but think about that if a professional wants to be conservative about a root canal, of COURSE it is a good idea for a professional to be conservative about a potential spinal cord injury. They talk about THEIR field, like everyone else.. what about a doctor who does Aikido, his story might be different. Of course, there is I'm sure quite a bit of value in what his doctors have been saying.. it does sound risky to continue doing Aikido. BUT....
As I was saying about doctors potentially being ignorant about Aikido.... we all know Aikido can be very vigorous, but it never HAS to be. More vigorous just might be more fun sometimes, or more self-defense-like training sometimes... but I think a VERY CAREFUL person could still do Aikido in his situation... but yes I think a lot of changes should be made.. i.e. slow and careful for a very long time, forever maybe. "Polish the mirror" time..... I believe there is an article about that on this site... Anyway this might sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, but come on, "no martial arts forever" ???!!? What about Tai Chi??? That won't paralyze you!! Obviously "No martial arts" isn't quite right, so indeed maybe "modified Aikido" is possible.
Of course, if there is indeed a possiblity of physical recovery beyond what has been expected, as Ledyard Sensei suggested, that should be the first course of action......
There's my opinion..