View Full Version : Sitting seiza

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12-05-2003, 12:45 AM
When I was younger I devloped a knee condition that has since, evolved into something resembling tendonitus. There are "bumps" just below my kneecaps which are extremely sensitive to almost any pressure at all. As you can imagine this makes sitting seiza, extremely painful for me. At times this can also be extremely humiliating, when the pain becomes so awful that my eyes begin to water.

I've been trying for the last year to try to strengthen them and get used to sitting seiza by sitting seiza for at least 15 minutes every night before i go to bed. Nothing has improved.

This becomes extremely stressful for me when I goto seminars with the "big wig" aikido people. I feel shameful that I am sometimes forced to bow and cross my legs in front of a sensei. As I said before, it's humiliating, when everyone around you seems to be able to just sit there for hours when i can barely last 20 minutes.

How can I improve? I don't want to just give up and quit trying and just sit on my ass everytime I have to sit. I want to try to overcome this.

Has anyone encountered this kind of problem before? If so how did you deal with it?

12-05-2003, 02:01 AM
As well as Aikido I also practise Iai-do (on a wooden floor). As I had knee surgery some years ago I also have difficulties with seiza on a hard floor especially.

For Iai-do I use volleyball knee pads which do the trick for me; do not restrict the knee movement and are readily available from any good sports shop.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
12-05-2003, 02:02 AM
First, important preface, I am not medically knowledgeable.

If there's no risk of further /injury/ (but only pain) from sitting in seiza, then perhaps a topical painkiller? I believe there are things (I hear of something called Tiger Balm that some people swear by) that basically work to numb the skin/tissue they are applied to.

That said, especially if you just start in onza, and are attentive, I wouldn't think a sensei would assume you're being negligent or disrespectful.

Yann Golanski
12-05-2003, 02:29 AM
If it hurts, don't do it!

Go and talk to sensei and tell them that your knee is hurting you. I cannot think of any sensei that would not acknowledge that and mind that you site in normal crossed legs or just stand.

12-05-2003, 03:25 AM
I'm with Yann all the way (unless of course you like pain...)

Nafis Zahir
12-05-2003, 03:41 AM
Has anyone encountered this kind of problem before? If so how did you deal with it?
Here's one 4 U. I am a disabled veteran with a problem with both feet and lower legs. I cannot sit in seiza but for a few minutes. I also don't do suri waza except when asked to do so for demos or test, and only then if I can stand it. I also have to wear socks. I wear a pair of support socks made from lycra spandex which is very slippery. So, to try and have some traction, I have to wear tube socks over those. The tractions not good, but it does help me center myself. I just explained it to my Sensei when we first met and it was never a problem. I normally don't mention it at seminars unless I'm asked. Most people are aware that I probably have a valid reason to do it and wouldn't do it just because I wanted to. As for your knee, you make think this is crazy, but try colonics. I was skeptical at first, but it has helped me with my disability, even though it is permanent.

12-05-2003, 09:06 AM
If it hurts, don't do it!

Go and talk to sensei and tell them that your knee is hurting you. I cannot think of any sensei that would not acknowledge that and mind that you site in normal crossed legs or just stand.
I agree with both Ian and Yann.

Some of those 'big wigs' have knee problems too so if you wear something that points out the knee condition (e.g. knee pads or red tape over the knees) I'll bet that they won't fault you for a second for taking care of yourself.

Seiza is hard on the knees. There have been plenty of times that I have seen a line of purple feet from reduced circulation in seiza. Where's the fulcrum? The knees.

If what you have is a reslut of osgood-schlatters condition, and it hasn't resolved with time, you may have to just work with it. Maybe a patellar tendon strap?

Don't be too hard on yourself. Embarrassment and/or self criticism is not a treatment to make your knees better so let it go. Remember that old mom-ism 'Well if your friends don't understand, then maybe they're not really your friends.' it holds here as well. If your fellow aikidoka don't understand, find another dojo. You'd be surprised at how much people will accomodate however.

Good luck


12-05-2003, 04:47 PM
If the bumps are on the end of the bone just below the knee you might want to have it checked out. A common problem in young people is Osgood Schlatter's disease. This is a painful disorder involving the tibial tubercle and occurs in adolescents generally from ages 11 to 15 and generally males. You will get localized swelling over the bump on the bone (tibial tubercle) and soft tissue swelling. One way to check this is to contract your thigh muscles against resistance an see if this makes the pain worse. Basically, this is somewhat due to strong contractions of the quadricep muscles causing displacement of the tubercle-depending on the stage of ossification it can displace the bone or cartilage or both and create inflammation. It can usually be picked up on an x-ray. If you had it at a young age, it can leave some pieces of bone or cartilage (ossicles) which may continue to get inflammed when putting pressure on them.

You might want to have it checked out.

12-09-2003, 10:06 PM
If it makes you feel any better, i'm 16, in ok shape, but after sitting in seiza for about 30 min i cant feel my feet at all. the last belt seramony was a litle over 30 min, and i forced myself to sit in seiza the whole time. when we finaly had to stand up, i fell down because, well... you try walking when your feet are like they are dead!

Daniel Mills
12-10-2003, 03:51 AM
I'm about 360lbs, and always found sitting seiza a real strain on my knees. After 8 months of Aikido I can now sit seiza with very little discomfort, other than the occasional cramp in my ankle and/or right calf when I stand up. :)

12-10-2003, 10:24 AM
A little off topic here..

I've been told always that while you sit in seiza , you shouldnt let your back rest all the time on your ankles , but instead let a little space between them..(enough to slip a sheet of paper..) , so you wont cut the blood flow to the feet and prevent cramps from appearing after long times in this position.

Of course..you need very strong legs , but a very good excercise dont you think?..


Janet Rosen
12-10-2003, 10:56 AM
There is a difference between pain caused by muscles being asked to do something new, which decreases as they reform and strengthen to adapt to the new challenge, and pain that is the result of a chronic problem.

There is nothing magical about sitting in any particular posture. We show respect as best we can in any given situation. Explain to the instructors that you have a chronic knee problem that prohibits you from sitting seiza. I've been doing this for almost 2 yrs now and the sky hasn't fall in, the kamiza hasn't cracked, and my training is as good/bad as it ever was (smile)

12-10-2003, 01:11 PM
I know the secret of seiza. Apart, of course, from people with disabilities.

Do not move, do not adjust your posture it will all pass. Just sit perfectly still for however long it has to be.

If it is a grading or some such...when coming out of seiza for your own performance don't be pressured into jumping up and 'doing' stuff while your legs are dead. Take your time, rub your legs, don't do anything till you feel fine. :)

And if you have to change from seiza to cross-legged or whatever...don't worry about it. No-one cares. :)

the slayer
12-16-2003, 12:50 PM
Hi, I have a problem with both knees but my worst side is the right side i did have osgood but it didn't go away and it turned into i think you say it like this patella tendon traction apophystitis and in the dojo beginning and end of class i sit in seiza or when he is showing a new tecnique if knee does start hurting most of us in the dojo sit as you now on heels so all i do is lean up so sit of your heels or you are allowed to lean forward and stretch your leg and then sit back but i am not allowed to do squatting or any suwariwaza techniques only suwariwaza kokyuho as you don't move on your knees that much and if grading on i will try to sit in seiza last time i managed i think was 10 min or 15 then just put my hand up and sensei nodded and i sat crossed leg.

the slayer
12-16-2003, 01:00 PM
i have tried all tablets for my knee didn't work also tried physio that didn't work and they even tried cortisone injection that just made my knee worse and there is no operation as MY knee is to knackered to fix as they said it was a 1% chance it will work to a 1/2% chance and on courses i just say i have a bad knee.I also have diabetes lupus kidney problems from the lupus and bad knees and i have been doing aikido now for 3yrs and i am a 5th kyu ittakes quite a while because of all my little problems any one else out there who is diabetic