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05-04-2004, 10:05 AM
I recently posted this on another forum and received some good advice but it was suggested I post here also. So here goes....

I'm looking for some advice please. Many years ago I studied Aikido and enjoyed it very much. I am very interested in studying again and have a number of Aikido schools in Houston I could go to (I am considering a Tomiki school nearby).

I am currently working to change careers to massage therapy. I often read, on this and other forums, of the injuries that seem to often occur. My concern would be that a broken wrist or torn shoulder ligaments could effectively put me out of work and living under a bridge somewhere. I'm not concerned about the occasional bumps and bruies. Since I need both hands and most of what is attached to them to do my work, I believe I need to look at this possibility. Is this a truly valid concern or am I being overly cautious? Should I pass on Aikido because there is no way to avoid the risk and the possible loss of livelihood and search for something else?

...On the other forum kendo was suggested as a possible alternative or a "soft" style of Aikido.

Any advice is helpful and appreciated.

Janet Rosen
05-04-2004, 01:40 PM
Steve, Many of the aikidoka in my dojo are bodyworkers, and I've met many folks from other dojo around the country who are as well. Also dancers, musicians, and doctors.
Is aikido risk-FREE? nope. But aching wrists and minor shoulder separations (usually by newbies landing on the shoulder before they have figured out forward rolls) are more common, broken wrists and torn up shoulders way less so.
Many forms of massage therapy are pretty darn stressful to the body if the practitioner is not mindful of his own body use patterns. My advice is, go for both aikido and massage therapy, and be very attentive to safe body use/mechanics in both.

05-04-2004, 01:44 PM
Steve, Many of the aikidoka in my dojo are bodyworkers, and I've met many folks from other dojo around the country who are as well.
Many body workers I know in aikido have said that their body working skills have benefitted from their experience in aikido. They often talk about sensitivity, awareness, connection, and general good physical skills of using their entire body...

-- Jun

05-04-2004, 02:05 PM
My suggestion for what it's worth:

Gather all the info you can on the dojo in the area that you'd be willing to travel to.
Sit down with the info and get rid of the ones that you can't fit into your schedule or are cost prohibitive.
Visit the remaining dojo and watch for a few classes, and/or take any free intro classes offered.
Talk with the students (all levels) about what training is like there...talk with the sensei about your concerns.
Evaluate and choose based on your findings and feelings about the different dojo.

In the article section of AikiWeb is an essay on Evaluating a Dojo (http://www.aikiweb.com/training/witt1.html) , maybe this can help.

You'll probably see some cool stuff while visiting the different dojo. Don't forget that all those people learned to do those things. No one is expected to do them right off. You will learn the skills and tools you need to protect yourself from most injuries. Accidents happen but for the most part I've seen fewer injuries in aikido than when I was fencing.

It's very difficult for us to tell you if it's too dangerous or not. There is such a wide diversity in how aikido is taught that it's going to completely depend on the local instructors. Not to mention that what you, I, or anyone else considers dangerous may be entirely different things. Best way is to visit and see first hand what's going on.

If you feel that it's just too dangerous you might try iaido. I've recently begun and I'm quite enjoying it.



05-04-2004, 02:18 PM
I'm a chiropractor so your concerns are mine as well. I get more concerned in seminars where there is always one person trying to be macho. In general though, you need to check out the school. I don't allow injuries in mine so they rarely happen. Everyone trains with respect and care knowing that to injure a partner, especially due to ego or macho behavior, will result in excommunication from the mat until the other person heals. I stress control and zanshin (awareness) of the other person's abilitites to take certain falls and techniques.

L. Camejo
05-04-2004, 02:32 PM
I'm looking for some advice please. Many years ago I studied Aikido and enjoyed it very much. I am very interested in studying again and have a number of Aikido schools in Houston I could go to (I am considering a Tomiki school nearby).

...On the other forum kendo was suggested as a possible alternative or a "soft" style of Aikido.

Any advice is helpful and appreciated.

Hi Steve,

I practice Shodokan (Tomiki) Aikido and also do shiatsu and aromatherapy massage on a non-professional basis. From my experience, the two activities greatly complement each other in many ways, as Jun indicated above.

Having also trained in so-called "soft styles" of Aikido, I don't see any great difference in training that can negatively or positively affect one's hands/wrists/body in a different way to the other. The main thing is to train at a dojo where safety is the prime directive. If this is the case, it should not matter whether one is training in a "hard" or "soft" style.

As joint techniques are simply a reality in Aikido, there will always be a risk of something being damaged if training is careless. In Shodokan, a few techniques are actually modified to allow for safer execution under the stress of resistance randori to lower the risk of breaks and sprains.

Imo if your hands and wrists are your livelihood and you have no other options if you are hurt I'd suggest that you not play around with even the remote chance of them being damaged. But then again you can do that by falling badly in the shower or down some stairs, so staying away does not necessarily eliminate the possiblity.:)

In the end it's your call, if you love the training to see the risk as negligible and want to get back into it, I say go for it. If not, try out something that does not have so much to do with twisting wrists. Personally I would not compare Kendo training to Aikido on anything but a very very basic level. If you like Aikido, do Aikido. I personally don't see Kendo as an equivalent substitute.

Just my thoughts.

05-04-2004, 10:50 PM
Thank you all for the positive and supportive suggestions. I will be doing more homework and talking with the instructors before deciding on a school. This is something I have been wanting to do for some time now (after about 20 years or so) and was quite bummed out when I began thinking about how a career in massage would fit in with Aikido.

Your responses were encouraging and I will take that and move, safely, toward a study of Aikido once again.

Thanks again for all the help.

Steve Delaune

05-05-2004, 03:13 AM
I have been a practising physiotherapist for over twenty years and an Aikidoka for over thirty five and have not had any problems; although of course injuries do occur now and then.
If avoidance of injury is the over-riding factor then perhaps martial arts in general are not for you, but the other side of the coin is that injury rates in Aikido are no greater than other sports generally.

05-05-2004, 09:05 AM
"If avoidance of injury is the over-riding factor... "

It's less avoidance of injury and more avoidance of loss of livelihood from an inability to do my job through injury. The consensus here seems to be that many people practice Aikido who are in the same vocational position I'm hoping to get to and have been practicing for long periods of time without major incident. This is heartening and keeps my hopes up that I will be able to get back into practicing Aikido again.

"...then perhaps martial arts in general are not for you."

This is true and may also be the case. If I don't feel that the schools I can go to are conscious enough about safety then I may have to look elsewhere for something else. Though I'm sure that, given the size of Houston, there are enough Aikido schools here that I should be able to find one that I can be comfortable with.

I appreciate the help and advice.

Steve Delaune

05-05-2004, 09:11 AM
IMHO, Aikido can help your body work profession.

Nothing is injury free. But, stay relaxed and work on form. Most injuries occur because we get sloppy (or is that just me?).

Zoli Elo
05-12-2004, 01:34 PM
So Mr. Steve Delaune, what happened? Update us, please.

(I am the one who suggested Kendo (http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=26143)...)

Zoli Elo

05-12-2004, 04:32 PM
Thank you Mr. Elo. Right now I am making plans and setting things straight in my life so that I can pursue all these different avenues. This was why I asked for advice so I could clarify my plans to study Aikido and move forward without doubts or confusion.

I am currently saving the money to go to massage school and hopefully will be there in September. I am clearing up my finances so that I won't be stressed at having to make a lot of money to survive while in school. I will in the next couple of months be interviewing Aikido schools in the area for degree of safety consciousness and compatibility of style with my character. Right now I have a Tomiki school in mind run by one of the black belts that I studied with nearly 20 years ago.

If I can't find an appropriate Aikido school then I will check out kendo and sword arts and if that doesn't work then I will try yoga with a friend of mine from some years back who has a large facility here in Houston. One difficulty is, though we have a lot of different martial art schools in town, some are at great distances from my location and, in our traffic, very difficult to get to. Kind of limits the number of schools I can actually attend. I'm looking for something for exercise, training of the self and mind, and the social aspect of meeting and interacting with like-minded people. All of the above provide this and I will be making my decision in the coming months.

I'm very thankful to all of you for your input and encouragement. This has helped me see more clearly the direction to go in my search and given me the hope that I can practice Aikido once again, something I very much enjoyed when I was a lot younger.

Steve Delaune