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David Yap
10-07-2003, 02:48 AM
Hi all,

A couple of months ago, I was training in a dojo that has a warming up routine that seem to contradict the breathing techniques that I have been taught in my 30 years of MA training. Your thoughts on this is much appreciated.

The class always begins with the rowing exercise. The rowing exercise I learned to do in my other aikido classes was done with a natural breathing rhythm. Here in this particular class, the students were leaded to row like the boat had sprung a leak and they needed to get to the shore before the boat went under. As this was the first exercise, I would take it easy and "row" in rhythm with my natural breathing. But the instructor would look at me disgusted that I could not keep up with the rest of the class or thinking that I was being disrespectful to him (I left the class as I got the cue from him later that the disgust was meant for the latter).

I was told that when the heart is stressed, it is shown in the breathing and how we breath will also affect our heart rates. IMHO, I do not think that it is appropriate to stress the heart even before we get a good decent warm up.

In your opinion, what is a good or decent routine for warming up in an aikido class?

David

happysod
10-07-2003, 03:43 AM
(got in just before Paul and Kevin descend on this one from a great height...)

I've always had a problem with regard to the warm-ups in most of the dojo's I've attended. My first instructor was firmly of the opinion that warming up was the student's problem and should be performed prior to the class, so no real help there. Other's seem to be a lack-lustre halfway house between getting warmed up and stretching, with no real thought about the exercises. My current dojo's practice is not optimal in my opinion, standard exercises (such as the rowing one you describe)and some breakfall practice and stretching - but thankfully no emphasis on "correct" breathing and at least care is taken concerning correct posture.

When I take the class I try and include some of the warm-ups suggested by the gym with at least an attempt to move from cold to glowing, without excessively stressing people and making sure all joints are loosened. Having said that, people are there to be taught aikido, not the warm up, so you've got a limited time frame for this in any class.

David, sounds like that sensei had done some tai-chi before and had missed the point of some of their breathing exercises, which are specifically meant to work against the body's movement. Cross-pollination isn't always good...

Kevin Wilbanks
10-07-2003, 05:10 AM
First of all, unless you are so unconditioned that you can't walk up a flight of stairs without medical supervision, I seriously doubt you need to worry about the amount of "stress" this warmup is placing on your heart. A healthy heart is no where near that fragile.

As far as the wisdom or purpose of the warmup goes, I can't be of much help. I tend to think that all the emphasis on special, deliberate breathing patterns in martial arts and yoga is mostly a lot of nonsense. While consciously altering breathing can affect emotional and arousal states, unless you're hyperventilating, holding the breath, or doing something else that's weird, I think there are more important things to focus on... unless you're doing some kind of dedicated meditation practice. The body seems to do a pretty good job of managing autonomic functions like heart rythym, breathing, temperature regulation, and digestion just fine without the intervention of our conscious minds or the need for secret techniques passed down from the mists of antiquity.

The use of the rowing exercise combined with the shouting of what I presume are some kind of sacred shinto syllables seems to be quite a warm-up fad these days. I find it a bit silly, since it's not coming from a place of organic familiarity with the context or traditions where the practice originates, and no one even seems to have a clear idea of it's meaning or purpose. I feel like I am ignorantly and emptily aping a piece of someone else's religion.

It's also technically confusing. One sensei emphasized that the shouts are to be forceful ki-ais, but if so, at the rate he went, I can't figure out when I'm supposed to inhale. I finally came up with a scheme where I ki-ai every other shout, and murmur/inhale during the intervening ones. The whole thing isn't important enough to turn me off to aikido, or even enough to make a fuss over, but I'd definitely feel better if the whole business quietly faded away.

ian
10-07-2003, 11:38 AM
Recent studies have shown that stretching exercises are of no benefit for preventing injury, though gentle exercise is. I hate spending time warming up - if there is an instructor there they should be making the most of the instruction time. I heard Ueshiba (at least in his later years) did not do any warm-ups for formal training (though he can be seen doing it on videos), and expected people to warm up before hand.

I do very little seperate warm-up (e.g. swining arms, streching legs - all lasting less than 10 mins total). The real warm up is the practise stuff at the start - lots of irimi-tenkan, then tae-sebaki with partner (one-arm, two arm grab) i.e. tailoring this part of the warm up to actually train the body simultaneously! Also, as a warm down (many believe is more important) I do seated kokyu-ho.

Ian

P.S. I believe breathing exercises are useful to some extent, but only in order to promote a good deep breathing pattern. I don't see how the rowing exercise as you describe it, ties in to martial arts.

David Yap
10-07-2003, 09:50 PM
<snipped>.. people are there to be taught aikido, not the warm up, so you've got a limited time frame for this in any class.

David, sounds like that sensei had done some tai-chi before and had missed the point of some of their breathing exercises, which are specifically meant to work against the body's movement. Cross-pollination isn't always good...
Ian,

I agree that people are there to learn aikido and not the warm up but some instructors do consider warm ups regimental. IMHO, simple warming up like jumping on the spot for half a minute will suffice.

Based on the 2-months training experience with him, I doubt the sensei has done tai-chi. If he has, I think that it would have superficial.
First of all, unless you are so unconditioned that you can't walk up a flight of stairs without medical supervision, I seriously doubt you need to worry about the amount of "stress" this warmup is placing on your heart. A healthy heart is no where near that fragile..<snipped>..I tend to think that all the emphasis on special, deliberate breathing patterns in martial arts and yoga is mostly a lot of nonsense..<snipped>..
Kevin,

A leisurely walk up the stairs and a running up the stairs as if being chased by a mad doberman is two extreme things. At least, the latter is adrenline assisted. :) I tend not to agree with you on the nonsense part about breathing patterns in MA & yoga. Do you include Aikido in this category? Wouldn't you agree that most if not all the throws in Aikido are executed with breathing patterns? In your class, do you not do suwari-waza kokyu-ho?

Warm regards

David

jxa127
10-08-2003, 08:50 AM
David,

Every now and again, I lead warm-ups for the class. I like to start with the aiki taiso exercises, at least some of them, just to get our bodies moving. Alternately, we do some solo striking practice. Then some stretching, and then we practice ukemi. They key seems to be that our warm-ups also have some instruction built into them. I think that's kinda neat.

Regarding breathing: I generally inhale at the beginning of a movement and exhale at the end of it. That's my understanding of at least part of the kokyo concept. Is that what you meant by doing the exercise in time with your natural breathing?

Regards,

-Drew

Victor Ditoro
10-08-2003, 09:48 AM
If aikido was an athletic event then I would say...

"I think any fitness trainer or athlete would agree that warming up is absolutely vital before strenuous excercise, if for no other reason than you perform much better warm than cold. While I am relatively new to Aikido, I have many years of running, swimming, and cycling experience and have never encountered anyone who would compete in any sport without a good warmup... I know plenty of people who go to the gym and workout without warming up, but have never known *anyone* who was actually trying to be competitive in a sport skip the warmup. Are they right? Who knows."

However, Aikido pratice is not an atheltic event...

"Most Aikido practice is not "strenous excercise" and the class is closer to the intensity of a "warm up" from a competitive athlete's point of view. Keep in mind that a runner might "warm up" by doing 3 miles at 8:00 pace. For someone who doesn't run, that would be murder, not a warmup. In the same way that a person can go play hard tennis without warming up, you can probably do Aikido fine without warming up. Unless you have specific pains during class that need some attention before hand, its probably not strictly essential that you "warm up" before Aikido. Still, it feels better to do technique warm and stretched out, at least to me.

Since you are paying for Aikido instruction, the focus of aiki taiso should be on improving the funadamental stances and movements that form the basis of good technique. If that includes breathing, fine. But whatever it is, it should be those excercises which are compatible with the specific curriculum and help students learn good, balanced movement. As a side effect, it will bring your body temp up a bit and warm you up so you don't feel so tight during class.

I completely agree with Kevin that there is probably no activity in Aikido, including a vigorous standing row, that would be of a health concern. If the rapid rowing fits in with that dojo's curriculum and philosophy, then so be it. In our dojo we have a varied set of aiki taiso that I would imagine came from AAA and Toyoda sensei, but every excercise is related to the curriculum, in that there is at least one technique which mimics the motions in the excercise in some way.

paw
10-08-2003, 10:31 AM
However, Aikido pratice is not an atheltic event...

ath·let·ic adj

Characterized by or involving physical activity or exertion; active:

Is aikido not a physical activity, or do you use ki blasts a la Dragonball Z?

Curious,

Paul

Kevin Wilbanks
10-08-2003, 11:26 AM
A proper warm-up is a good thing. For some activities, like heavy lifting, proper specific warmup is pretty much necessary. For some people who are seriously out of shape and overweight, a good overall warmup and cool down is even more important, due to C/V risks like heart attack and blood pooling.

Unfortunately, outside of warm ups I've conducted or ones I've seen Paul lead, I've never seen anything approaching a proper warmup prior to an Aikido class. It's not that complicated, it's just that Aikido people seem not to even have the right concepts.

I'm not sure about the "recent study" cited above, but I agree that static stretching is virtually irrelevant to warming up... if anything I believe it has caused or exacerbated minor injuries for me in the past. I would also classify deliberate breathing patterns or shouting exercises as virtually irrelevant.

The most important thing in warming up is literally warming up. To do this, you've got to get off your butt and move around, which isn't always popular. A few minutes of some kind of light exercise that involves most of the body that induces heavy breathing and a little perspiration is the first thing.

The next thing is to introduce or prepare the tissues that are going to be stressed for the specific kind of stress they are about to undergo. This could include movements that mimick the activity, or movements modified to provide dynamic 'stretches' at the end points of certain ROMs. With Aikido, the moves are so varied, that this could be tricky. I like limb circles and swings that cover most of the body's possible ROM, followed by light rolls/ukemi drills and specific exercises like the two-step... maybe some bodyweight lunge variations, squats, etc...

Janet Rosen
10-08-2003, 11:52 AM
AUnfortunately, outside of warm ups I've conducted or ones I've seen Paul lead, I've never seen anything approaching a proper warmup prior to an Aikido class. It's not that complicated, it's just that Aikido people seem not to even have the right concepts.
This has been a sore subject (literally and metaphorically) for me for yrs. In most dojo I've been in, as member or visitor, most often "warmups" are a hodgepodge of whatever the person leading them was taught over the years and almost always involves going directly into stretching cold muscles.

A person should not need a degree in physiology or physical training to teach aikido, but taking an interest enough to do some basic research would be nice (smile).

Meanwhile, I suggest individuals take responsibility for their health and adapt the warmups as they need to, even if it means being "odd man out" on the mat.

Victor Ditoro
10-08-2003, 12:16 PM
Paul,

While I would hate to argue with a dictionary writer, I'm not prepared to agree that any and all things that involve physical activity are athletic. I appreciate that you might apply the word to a construction worker, since he is involved in physical exertion, or to a waiter, but to me that is not how the word is used in our language, regardless of the definition given.

At any rate, my somewhat rambling point was that I don't believe Aikido is an activity of similar exertion to competitive sport such that it requires a proper warmup to avoid cramping, strains, inferior performance,etc.. in the same way that "sports" do. Yes, its good to stretch out dynamically before practicing, and yes its good to get your body temperature up, but my point was that the pre-class exercises should be whatever things are fundamental for that school's curriculum...getting "warmed up" is a secondary focus.

Just my opinion, anyway. :)

Erik
10-08-2003, 12:26 PM
A person should not need a degree in physiology or physical training to teach aikido, but taking an interest enough to do some basic research would be nice (smile).

Janet, there are dojos which are still in the Tokugawa era in terms of their understanding of the human body and I don't think that Meiji guy is coming around any time soon.

I think anyone teaching classes would do well with a basic personal trainer certification or the like. I did it after a FUBAR at a dojo. I was part of the FUBAR by the way. I won't claim it taught me anything I couldn't have learned otherwise, and much of it I already knew, but it gave me a baseline I didn't have and it provided surprising insight in a couple of areas.

At the very least it might put to rest the nonsense about weight training which continually comes up. :)

paw
10-08-2003, 01:18 PM
Victor,
At any rate, my somewhat rambling point was that I don't believe Aikido is an activity of similar exertion to competitive sport such that it requires a proper warmup to avoid cramping, strains, inferior performance,etc.. in the same way that "sports" do.

Let me be clear. I'm not suggesting that aikidoists must have the same level of fitness as Olympic level athletes. However, as Kevin and others have pointed out repeatedly, there is a minimum level of fitness necessary to participate in aikido without undo risk of injury. I firmly believe any instructor that does not address this does their students a great diservice.

For me, personally, a brief warm up based on sound athletic training is one way to do it (and Kevin touches on how in his previous post). Alternatively, I would be fine with an instructor who took the approach of Ian Hurst's first instructor -- namely, students are on their own.

My point is, aside from improving one's spirit, I hope that aikido would improve one's body as well. That is to say someone who trained aikido for 30 or 40 years would be better off because of their training, rather than nursing various injuries.

Erik,
...there are dojos which are still in the Tokugawa era in terms of their understanding of the human body and I don't think that Meiji guy is coming around any time soon.
Sad but true.

Janet,
A person should not need a degree in physiology or physical training to teach aikido, but taking an interest enough to do some basic research would be nice (smile).
Agreed. A proper warm isn't that hard to plan out, and needn't take a large amount of class time.

Regards,

Paul

Janet Rosen
10-08-2003, 01:32 PM
At any rate, my somewhat rambling point was that I don't believe Aikido is an activity of similar exertion to competitive sport such that it requires a proper warmup to avoid cramping, strains, inferior performance,etc.. in the same way that "sports" do.
Those of us who have had to have rehab or surgery as a result of sports injuries incurred in training are likely to respectfully disagree.

Victor Ditoro
10-08-2003, 03:56 PM
Janet,

I certainly was not implying that injuries are impossible in Aikido. Obviously, as you have clearly experienced, they are. Depending on what happened, a warmup may have helped.

I suppose I need to learn to distill my thoughts more, I wasn't trying to bash anyone at all. :) A component of the poster's original question was "How are these aikido warmup things supposed to go?", specifically with regard to breath training.

All I was trying to say is "There needn't be anything especially athletic about them, its probably more important that they teach aikido fundamentals relative to that dojo than strengthen or stretch the body."

Obviously, knowing about the body is a great benefit in teaching, but it is clearly possible to practice aikido for many decades without being what someone would normally call "physically fit".

Janet Rosen
10-08-2003, 05:37 PM
Hi, Victor.

Yes we are probably more in agreement than not!

I agree that a high degree of athleticism is not a requirement--one need only consider the many folks who are disabled, elderly, or overweight who train quite well to see this.

I suppose I was considering it more from the angle of each individual being aware of/responsible for the condition and conditioning of her own body, to a degree that muscles and support structures can promote good body mechanics and safe training, AND that those who teach (IMO) should have the basic knowledge to not demonstrate and lead others into harmful or pointless warmups.

And yes, the most appropriate warmups are the ones that contain movements commonly used within that dojo style. Besides building muscle memory, it allows the instructor to monitor for and correct poor body mechanics that lead to higher risk of injury.

cheers!

Kevin Wilbanks
10-08-2003, 06:26 PM
.... should have the basic knowledge to not demonstrate and lead others into harmful or pointless warmups.

And yes, the most appropriate warmups are the ones that contain movements commonly used within that dojo style. Besides building muscle memory, it allows the instructor to monitor for and correct poor body mechanics that lead to higher risk of injury.
This is what kills me about the stretches commonly done as part of warm ups: most are so obviously irrelevant or even contrary to what is done later when the Aikido starts up. A very popular movement is extreme spinal flexion - sitting, standing, even with a twist! Last time I checked, keeping the spine neutral and bending at the hips, ankles and knees is just about the most basic, inviolable Aikido movement principle (except during falls). Why practice an action and ingrain a movement pattern that is essentially prohibited in the art?

Of course, if you ask someone why they are doing it, they'll claim it is a hamstring stretch, to alleviate the "tightness" in their hamstrings. Since most people seem to have more than enough hip flexion available to do whatever they want, I have difficulty understanding this. I think it must some kind of mass delusion or psychosomatic disorder. I have even more trouble understanding why flexing the spine is supposed to alleviate it.

This motion/stretch in particular goes back to the issue of advocating something that is beyond pointless and actually likely to be harmful. There is an epidemic of back pain and injury in the US, and I think the poor body mechanics that many people use when sitting and bending over is the major cause. In short, most of our spines are already hugely, chronically over-flexed, and more flexion, especially of the forced, passive variety is the last thing we need.

This is only one example. I agree with Paul: if instructors cannot do better than the pointless or the harmful, they should just give it up and set aside an anarchist's warmup period prior to the class and leave the students to their own devices. I usually do a minimal self-warm-up before getting on the mat, even if late, and just go through the motions with the class warm-ups - following along either using a minimal non-stretching ROM or altering the biomechanics to effect a safe position (such as forward bending with a neutral spine instead of flexed).

David Yap
10-09-2003, 02:50 AM
<snipped>..

Meanwhile, I suggest individuals take responsibility for their health and adapt the warmups as they need to, even if it means being "odd man out" on the mat.
Janet,

Totally agreed. But being the "odd man out", in my experience, will very soon be made unwelcomed in cultist like dojo where students are leaded to believe that the instructor or chief instructor can do or teach no wrong. Coming from another dojo or MA will even make the situation more sticky as "emptying the cup" would also mean throwing the good/right stuff you have learned and picking up stuff that you that know/feel is pointless or fundamentally wrong or detrimental to your well-being. Not conforming then would be equate as not respecting the instructor. To avoid a conflict in this case, IMHO, the gracious thing to do is to stop training at the "feudalistic/cultist" dojo concerned.

David

drDalek
10-09-2003, 03:21 AM
According to who takes the warmup at our dojo, we do everything from gradual stretches to playing dodgeball before class.

Maybe someone with some actual qualifications can give us a "real" warmup in the form of a numbered list with adequate descriptions of each step?

David Yap
10-09-2003, 03:50 AM
<snipped>..

Regarding breathing: I generally inhale at the beginning of a movement and exhale at the end of it. That's my understanding of at least part of the kokyo concept. Is that what you meant by doing the exercise in time with your natural breathing?

-Drew
Sorry Drew, I missed out ur reply.

Yes, that's what I meant by natural breathing and I would add that one would breathe in calm and relaxed state. NOT forcing oneself to pant or to breathe shallowly. Normally, in the rowing exercise, one would make a "he" sound when inhaling and a "ho" or "sa" sound when exhaling.

Now, compare rowing at quick pace like "hehohehohehohehoheho.." or a "hesahesahesahesa.." instead of a normal pace of "heeeeho" or "heeeesa" where the inhale is deep and the exhale is a big burst of breath - which some shihan showed to explain the "aiki" and "kiai" concept. What exactly is the objective of this exercise, may I ask, if it is done at fast tempo?

David

David Yap
10-09-2003, 05:28 AM
... "emptying the cup" would also mean throwing the good/right stuff you have learned...
Hi all,

Ops!! Too late to edit. I meant to say is that for the unlearned it may involve throwing the good/right stuff..but for the learned it will just be putting aside.

David

Kevin Wilbanks
10-09-2003, 08:12 AM
According to who takes the warmup at our dojo, we do everything from gradual stretches to playing dodgeball before class.

Maybe someone with some actual qualifications can give us a "real" warmup in the form of a numbered list with adequate descriptions of each step?
That sounds like a very smart idea. However, that's a lot of work to ask someone qualified to do for free. The amount of work involved could be radically reduced if you just got someone to do it in person. The best would be to get a trainer or coach in to see a typical class or two, design your warmup, then teach/demonstrate it to your teaching staff on videotape, for future reference. It wouldn't cost much, and it would be a great investment in the well-being of your dojo's members. I have an idea of how you might solicit a qualified person to do it and/or get further leads on how. You may want to contact me privately, so as not to bore others with the details.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-09-2003, 08:25 AM
Now, compare rowing at quick pace like "hehohehohehohehoheho.." or a "hesahesahesahesa.." instead of a normal pace of "heeeeho" or "heeeesa" where the inhale is deep and the exhale is a big burst of breath - which some shihan showed to explain the "aiki" and "kiai" concept. What exactly is the objective of this exercise, may I ask, if it is done at fast tempo?
As I said, I'm skeptical as to the point at any tempo. However, Aikido is a traditional(ish) martial art. If you want to practice something steeped in traditions like Aikido, I think you just have to put up with a certain amount of stuff that doesn't make sense. While I find a lot of this warm-up stuff good fodder for complaint, none of it is enough to turn me off to Aikido overall. If you are really interested in training with practical-minded, results-oriented people who place a higher premium on what makes sense and not wasting time than doing things the way their teacher told them to, I think you're looking for an MMA gym or maybe a JKD group or something.

SeiserL
10-09-2003, 09:23 AM
IMHO, warming up is a part of the training, not separate from it. We do the full formal warm up each class. Its a great time to work on form and focus. I am grateful.

I have always beleived that the heart is a muscle that grows through use.

akiy
10-09-2003, 09:37 AM
This is what kills me about the stretches commonly done as part of warm ups: most are so obviously irrelevant or even contrary to what is done later when the Aikido starts up. A very popular movement is extreme spinal flexion - sitting, standing, even with a twist! Last time I checked, keeping the spine neutral and bending at the hips, ankles and knees is just about the most basic, inviolable Aikido movement principle (except during falls). Why practice an action and ingrain a movement pattern that is essentially prohibited in the art?
What about movements in the role of uke?

-- Jun

Kensho Furuya
10-09-2003, 11:03 AM
I hate to add my two cents here but I am going to anyways for what it is worth. Stretching and warm-ups are very important for your health and to keep your body flexible and limber for your training. The movements may not resemble Aikido techniques per se, but they are still quite necessary for your health and to prevent accidents in training. If you look at any other physical activity or sport, you will see that they do many types of warm-ups not really looking like what they do in their activity. You may not be aware of all the muscles you use and stretch and how your body all works together in each Aikido movement - your body is doing much more that you may actually realize.

Please, please do your homework! O'Sensei's method of warm-up - which we have greatly enhanced these days - was originally inspired from a colleague of O'Sensei around the turn of the century, named Dr. Katsuzo Nishi. Dr. Nishi developed what he called the "Nishi-shiki" or the Nishi System. These movements and exercises, which he formulated, were based on his theory that enhancing blood circulation throughout the body would increase one's health and vitality. In those days - this was a totally revolutionary and unheard of theory. Today, we still use many of these methods in traditional Aikido warm-ups - the idea of many of these moves was to develop and encourage good blood circulation throughout the body. The other implication here was to move the "ki" energy throughout the body at the same time as well.

Among teachers of the old school, some recommended doing these types of warm-up exercises before class. And some thought that as Aikido is a martial art, no warm-up's are necessary - you should be ready at any moment. Today, in all physical activites, current science and medicine, recommend that everyone should warm-up before and warm-down after training. The "main" purpose here, of course, as always, is to prevent injuries and accidents.

I think, in my own dojo, the students need to warm-up, loosen up the body, and release stress and tension built-up during the day, before actual training. The warm-down is also necessary to release tension in the muscles which may have tightened-up in practice. The other benefit of such exercises is to help the student to relax and ease up after such intense training.

Also, such warm-up's as funa-kogi undo or furitama - are not "physical' warm-up's but methods to stimulate and concentrate the "ki" energy in one's body. We should understand these as such and practice them for the purpose for which they were meant.

There is also a question of how much warm-up and I hate to cut into much of the practice time. Within one hour, we try to limit the initial warm-ups to just less or about 8-9 minutes and always finish with kokyu-dosa or some breathing exercises at times. I think it is a good balance in my dojo if the student gets at least 45 minutes of actual training within a one hour format. Hopes this helps someone, many thanks.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-09-2003, 12:07 PM
What about movements in the role of uke?
It's true that the back rounds as uke, but it still does not mean that passive spinal flexion is applicable. I have met one person in my time with a spine that was too stiff in terms of flexion to roll smoothly, but only one.

As to how to prepare for ukemi, this is quite a dilemma - one that I've been considering for some time. The problem is that it involves such a wide variety of body positions and muscle action patterns that it is almost unanalyzable. To make matters worse, in these positions, peculiar things happen like ballistic slaps and high speed decelerations. I hope to figure out more in the future about not only how to warm up better for it, but how best to condition the body for it in general.

For now, I have to go with the rule of when in doubt, opt for the most similar activity for a warm up. If one runs, for instance, slower running itself is the most important part of the warmup. So, I think doing light, gentle solo or partner ukemi exercises, gradually ramping up to more intense falls is the best I could do - after doing the other elements of a warmup as I described.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-09-2003, 12:27 PM
I hate to add my two cents here but I am going to anyways for what it is worth. Stretching and warm-ups are very important for your health and to keep your body flexible and limber for your training.
Actually, stretching isn't necessary at all to maintain flexibility - at least not in the form of applying force to passive muscles at the end of their ROM. This is probably the most misapplied protocol in all of physical activity-dom. Passive stretching can cause a chronic lengthening of the muscle if done with sufficient frequency and consistency, but it has little acute effect... aside from reducing strength performance and possibly causing muscle tears. All that is required to maintain the ROM one has is to use it.
The movements may not resemble Aikido techniques per se, but they are still quite necessary for your health and to prevent accidents in training. If you look at any other physical activity or sport, you will see that they do many types of warm-ups not really looking like what they do in their activity. You may not be aware of all the muscles you use and stretch and how your body all works together in each Aikido movement - your body is doing much more that you may actually realize.
If lots of other people were jumping off bridges, would you do it? Just because you've seen lots of people do things, doesn't mean they were correct things. I challenge you to come up with any evidence of or plausible detailed explanations as to why contortionist-style passive stretching or shouting ho-ho-ho increases health or reduces training accidents. It's true that the body is too complexly coordinated to admit of easy analysis - which is precisely why grabbing your leg and saying "now I am going to stretch my hamstring" is functionally irrelevant.
Please, please do your homework!
I've done quite a bit on exercise science and contemporary training methods. I never considered studying the history of O'Sensei and his colleagues particularly relevant.
I think, in my own dojo, the students need to warm-up, loosen up the body, and release stress and tension built-up during the day, before actual training. The warm-down is also necessary to release tension in the muscles which may have tightened-up in practice. The other benefit of such exercises is to help the student to relax and ease up after such intense training.
The last one may be good benefit, but this other stuff about tension, stress, and tightness is way too vague to be a legitimate part of an argument for or against specific warm up and cool down protocols. The tight-loose analogy in particular is one that bothers me. Like the word "tone" as used in the popular media, it seems to have little relation to anything going on in the body and serves mainly to confuse and propagate a superstitious way of viewing its function. As for the Ki stuff, I have no comment.

shugyosha
10-15-2003, 07:23 AM
Hello,
I've done quite a bit on exercise science and contemporary training methods.
I am very interested in the subject of warming up efficiently. So, could you please provide sources on the net or in literature?

thanks

Steffen

Kevin Wilbanks
10-15-2003, 09:45 AM
Steffen,

I'm not sure because of the language difference if you mean efficiently or effectively -- if you mean you want a warmup that takes the least amount of time, or works the best. In either case, it isn't that complicated, and I don't think you'll find a whole lot of enlightening research. The kinds of studies I've seen demonstrate things such as: passive stretching warmup groups showing no significant difference in incidence of injury from control groups, stretching groups showing decreased strength output than control groups, and groups with increased muscle temperature showing higher strength/power performance in high intensity activity than control groups. I don't have my own reference database yet, so I can't give you specific studies - although I just bought a notebook computer and plan on beginning to compile one.

There's a good passage on the subject of various types of stretching and warmups on pages 121-124 in 'Facts and Fallacies of Fitness', by Mel C. Siff, which is an excellent book to have in general. Another book which he references there is 'Ergogenic Aids in Sport' by Dr. M Williams.

The concepts behind warming up are pretty simple:

1) prepare the body generally by literally warming it up (i.e., raising body temperature through light-medium activity)

2) prepare the body specifically for the upcoming activity by doing something in between doing nothing and doing the activity itself. For an activity like weight training, this is easy as could be as you just do one or more sets of each movement with lighter weights before advancing to the full workload. For an activity like Aikido, it's a little trickier, so more variety is in order. As I said, I like swinging the limbs around, doing some dynamic bodyweight squat and lunge variants, followed by aikido-specific activities like the two-step and mellow solo ukemi exercises... static, passive stretches aren't relevant and aren't included.

shugyosha
10-15-2003, 10:25 AM
Hello Kevin,

thanks for your advices!

BTW with 'efficient' I mean 'best warm-up in shortest time'. ;-)

greets

Steffen

Misogi-no-Gyo
10-18-2003, 01:19 AM
While consciously altering breathing can affect emotional and arousal states, unless you're hyperventilating, holding the breath, or doing something else that's weird, I think there are more important things to focus on...
Let's consider the following, according to Seiseki Abe Sensei, Master Calligrapher and 10th Dan Aikido Master. "The common element present in all DO is the conscious manipulation of breath. Without it, all you have is exercise or empty movement."
I never considered studying the history of O'Sensei and his colleagues particularly relevant.
Having said that, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF THE ART, NEVER RETURN TO AN AIKIDO DOJO AGAIN!!!!! Kidding, please do, but do so with a more “inquisitive” mind, one that may be emptied just enough to entertain the idea that you may have completely missed the point.
As for the Ki stuff, I have no comment.
Given that you don't find anything regarding the history of the founder relevant, it is no wonder that you have no comment. This attitude is unfortunately present in many statements showing a keen misunderstanding of the purpose for Jumbi Taiso.

When I have a bit more time, I would like to present a fair and balanced representation of the purpose for the presence of a complete warm-up.

Lynn's comments (Hi Lynn) are coming from a good place, as usual. I was enlightened by several of Furuya Sensei's comments, becoming newly informed as to the source of the apparent outward physical methodology O-Sensei mapped over the internal elements in the warm-up. As a result of this information, I intend to do a bit of research into Dr. Nishi's theories so that I may better understand why O-Sensei moved in such a modern direction considering his otherwise more traditional approach.

These days, there seems to be such focus on making Aikido more “martial," and how we all need to learn to make it more "effective" "My" disgust comes more from the state of aikido, specifically due to those proclaiming to teach it without even the dim remnants of an ember from the fire of O-Sensei's hearth to light the narrow, dark path upon which we each seek to travel.

Please consider that O-Sensei said, "Aikido is a form of Misogi." Simply speaking, Misogi is completely about breath control; hence the reason for the focus on a form of breathing that has been practiced for thousands of years, and is the essence of both the bu and bun paths that have been passed down from Master to disciple for generations. To aimlessly dismiss breathing, and the movements associated with jumbi taiso, is to blindly gut aikido, leaving nothing but empty form.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-18-2003, 08:38 AM
Given that you don't find anything regarding the history of the founder relevant, it is no wonder that you have no comment. This attitude is unfortunately present in many statements showing a keen misunderstanding of the purpose for Jumbi Taiso.
Jumbi Taiso? Is that a Japanese breakfast cereal?

The subject here was warming up for Aikido. As such, no, I don't think studying the history of O'Sensei or any past sensei relevant. Past masters and the majority of their students were undoubtedly a self-selected, athletically-inclined, non-injury-prone group. I say this not out of idle speculation, but because the warmup and conditioning methods handed down with every traditional martial art I've seen are awful - most substantially worse than no warmup at all. You are welcome to accept arguments from authority based on rank and pedigree, and consider this a matter to be investigated via poetry and the japanese-english dictionary. I consider the matter of conditioning and injury prevention to be something that can be rationally sorted out based upon looking at the far more recent and accurately observed history of contemporary athletics and scientific research.

Kevin Wilbanks
10-18-2003, 08:59 AM
These days, there seems to be such focus on making Aikido more “martial," and how we all need to learn to make it more "effective" "My" disgust comes more from the state of aikido, specifically due to those proclaiming to teach it without even the dim remnants of an ember from the fire of O-Sensei's hearth to light the narrow, dark path upon which we each seek to travel.
I can see how this would be frustrating for you, but I think you have to give the rest of us a break. Many of us are apparently spiritually impovrished mental midgets who may not even be capable of approaching your level of greatness and enlightenment.

Col.Clink
10-18-2003, 09:12 AM
I enjoy the warm up. Contrary to other thoughts, I find it loosens me up physically(as my job is rather static, become quite stiff) and puts me in a good frame of mind, gets rid of the days tensions & stresses, I guess prepares me for taking in the info on a clean slate. Each to their own huh?

cheers

Rob

Misogi-no-Gyo
10-18-2003, 10:04 AM
I can see how this would be frustrating for you, but I think you have to give the rest of us a break. Many of us are apparently spiritually impovrished mental midgets who may not even be capable of approaching your level of greatness and enlightenment.
You are right, but there may still be hope for you yet, as the Marlins may actually win. However, should they lose, Seppuku is your only salvation.

Must be all that sunshine, or all of them Girls Gone Wild videos that have made you so crazy. In the end though, with all your mighty scientific pontification, you really don't you’re your a$s from your elbow. It doesn't take spirituality, greatness or enlightenment to see a blind person walking aimlessly across a busy highway. If you want to go on shrieking like a madman at someone because they yell out and offer a hand, you should try biting it, rather than your own tongue.

Maybe it is just the name Kevin - anyone no any nice people named Kevin?

Kevin Wilbanks
10-18-2003, 01:43 PM
You are right, but there may still be hope for you yet, as the Marlins may actually win. However, should they lose, Seppuku is your only salvation.

Must be all that sunshine, or all of them Girls Gone Wild videos that have made you so crazy. In the end though, with all your mighty scientific pontification, you really don't you’re your a$s from your elbow. It doesn't take spirituality, greatness or enlightenment to see a blind person walking aimlessly across a busy highway. If you want to go on shrieking like a madman at someone because they yell out and offer a hand, you should try biting it, rather than your own tongue.

Maybe it is just the name Kevin - anyone no any nice people named Kevin?
Wow. I am humbled by your impressive clarity of thought, skillful command of grammar and talent for metaphor. I will stop here before I embarass myself further.

Misogi-no-Gyo
10-18-2003, 08:39 PM
Wow. I am humbled by your impressive clarity of thought, skillful command of grammar and talent for metaphor. I will stop here before I embarass myself further.
Are you done, now?

Kyri Honigh
10-18-2003, 10:51 PM
Foolish adults, ur stupidity sickens me.. Is it impossible to show some respect to the theories that led to out art?Scientific thought is not that old. And in my opinion its usually the safest way to investigate and come up with answers to almost any problem. But a lot will be overlooked if u only adhere to scientific though.

Maybe like in a few hundred years will say that our scientific way of researching was based on BS...Who knows.

well I'm gonna play with my Ps2 now, shit I need a life, can't believe I'm actually replying

markwalsh
10-19-2003, 08:48 AM
Seems to me that during "warm ups" several different processes are occurring. Some are short-term preparation (e.g., increasing muscle temp.) while others are longer-term training (e.g. increasing ROM or strength). Possible aims for aikido warm up exercises might be:

Motor skills training.

Mental preparation (calm down, hype up, get in the right frame of mind)

Injury prevention.

Flexibility training.

Muscle strength training.

Ki development.

Spiritual development.

Hangover recovery.

So I guess the question is what do you want; and I think we can agree to differ here; and what is the best way of achieving it (the science bit)?

On a personal note I have found that my understanding of many of the aiki warm up exercises has changed over the years. I now view many of them as educational tools, and see them in a more meditative light. One instructor I know asks students to "listen" to their bodies during warm ups so they can learn from them. Warm ups can be aikido not just preparation for it.

Re. breathing exercises, aikido seems to me like one big breathing exercise/ massage, whatever the style.

:) :ai:

Mark

x

Kevin Wilbanks
10-19-2003, 11:01 AM
Mark,

That's some sensible thinking, although I'm not sure aims and means can be divided up as neatly as you propose. Far from being a matter of whimsical preference, the "science bit" has some pretty clear inputs regarding the appropriateness of some of those aims.

If one is after long-term adaptations in terms of strength or flexibility, the brief warmup period prior to Aikido training just isn't a very good place for these. Beyond the most rudimentary levels of fitness, there isn't enough time to accomplish anything. Increasing ROM requires more extensive and frequent sessions. Without specifically targeted joint actions, the time requirements could become staggering. Also, stretching this vigorously just prior to intense athletic activity is contraindicated as it has been shown to reduce strength output.

Likewise, in terms of strength, there is also inadequate time or facilites to accomplish much that would be useful to any but the dedicated couch-potato. The timing is not good, as just before a possibly extensive and vigorous workout is not the best time to exhaust, deplete and weaken the muscles. The most productive thing to do subsequent to serious strength exercise is to rest and replenish nutrients, not pile on an long exercise session running on empty.

Motor-skills wise, I think it is also questionable whether anything beyond the most rudimentary can be accomplished with solo warmup exercise. Motor skills are highly specific and can really only be addressed by doing the activity itself. Since Aikido is about doing things in relation to a partner, the role of solo exercise is inherently limited - far too many important elements are missing. Paul's surfing analogy comes to mind: while there may be some benefit at a beginner level to putting the board on the sand and practicing how to stand on it, how much time do experienced surfers spend doing this?

Also, my understanding with regards to hangovers: your system is full of toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism, and it simply takes time to process them. The Aikido training itself might help in the long run by speeding up metabolism for a while, but nothing you can do in the 10 minutes prior to working out is going to make much difference.