View Full Version : How have you helped with stiffness?
12-06-2003, 12:30 PM
Could you please elaborate on any techniques you have used to help your students overcome extreme stiffness. It manifests itself in ukemi and as nage.
Thanks in advance for any tips, suggestions, stories, etc. that you can share.
best regards, Rachel
12-15-2003, 06:46 PM
Well, in the Yoshinkan we use the practice of kamae and the kihon dosa. (6 movements) It can be done either alone, with a partner or with bokken. The idea of this movement is the help make the body strong and balanced, yet be smooth and relaxed. That's the corporate answer. :)
A drill that I was taught at an Aikikai school was called leading the blind. What you would do was to have one person close their eyes and the other would guide them around the mat, moving uke in various directions including circles. We would finish by lightly, at first, throwing uke with a front or side throw. The idea here is to see if you, uke, can sense the movement and flow with it.
When you are really stiff, you cannot stay connected and you end up walking hard, versus sliding your feet. When your are relaxed, breathing and relaxing the shoulders, you get a better feel for this.
In our basic kamae, we really focus on keeping the shoulders down. Relaxing them to where they feel like they are sinking toward your center and projecting forward. Of course, coming up behind your student and giving them a shoulder rub and saying
"RELAX" and "BREATH" helps too.
Come to think of it, I've been giving an awful lot of shoulder rubs lately ... hmmmm ... Might have to rethink that.
Don't know if that helps or even makes any sense. Breath and relax the shoulders. And practice practice practice unitl it becomes a natural movmement. That's what I focus on anyway.
12-15-2003, 08:53 PM
Thank you so much Steven!
I really like this exercise A drill that I was taught at an Aikikai school was called leading the blind. What you would do was to have one person close their eyes and the other would guide them around the mat, moving uke in various directions including circles. We would finish by lightly, at first, throwing uke with a front or side throw. The idea here is to see if you, uke, can sense the movement and flow with it. and think I'll give it a try tomorrow night (as long as we don't have too many people on the mat). I could see how this would require uke to really relax!
Do you have anything like this as nage?
One thing I've been trying lately that seems to have a bit of success is to have everyone line up against the wall and extend one arm out in front, knife blade of the hand to the wall. Then you lean into it with a good amount of body weight. If you straight-arm it, all the energy goes into the shoulder; if you bend your arm in too much, it becomes too much stress in the biceps; everyone has to figure out where they can comfortably lean in on their arm with a slight bend without tension going into the shoulder. Of course this is working for extension and pushing forward connection as uke (as well as nage), but it doesn't address stiffness in other forms.
Other suggestions are extremely welcome!
12-15-2003, 09:45 PM
Do you have anything like this as nage?
In fact I do, but as sh'te, as we call it, I don't feel as if you get the same effect as when you're uke. As uke, it certainly requires more TRUST, which in itself requires you to be relaxed. That make sense?!?
When you do this, look to see how tentative uke is. At first, there is usually a sense of uncertainty. You'll see it in their posture and the way they move (flow). Funny to watch too. :)
Let me know how it works out ....
11-12-2004, 12:41 AM
Sometimes I send them to a wonderful Tai Chi Chuan instructor I know.
Sometimes I just have patience.
Sometimes I pratice them so hard that they tire out and start to do things relaxedly.
Sometimes I just pull my hair out.
11-12-2004, 07:41 AM
Forgot last night.
When I get to the point where I just pull my hair out, I make the stiff person go and teach the kids for a while. Can't be stiff when throwing kids or taking ukemi from them. This final alternative seems to work out pretty good. It is just a matter, then, of making sure they retain that flexibility when they come back to work with other adults. Usually takes about three weeks for people to retain that flexibility when moving back to practicing with adults. Gives a significant improvement each time you do it. With some people, however, you have to do it multiple times over the year to get them to the point of flexibility that you would be willing to accept.
Got a couple here that even after two years and multiple sessions with the kids, they are still so stiff they make me pull my hair out. However, I will be patient and let them work it out themselves. After all, the student is 61 years of age and didn't start martial arts until the age of 59.
11-12-2004, 07:43 AM
The other stiff one is 56 and didn't start Aikido until the age of 54.
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