View Full Version : general question

Please visit our sponsor:

06-25-2004, 06:43 PM
I've been lurking on the forums for a bit mainly for information and insight because I really wanna start learning aikido. As of yet I haven't been to any dojos. But I have a couple concerns. I know, as with any other martial art there is always a risk for injury. But I was wondering if anybody could offer some insight. My main concern are my hands and my wrists. Reason being, is that I'm an art teacher, so my hands are my livelyhood, and I can't really afford to hurt them all that bad. So I was wondering if any experienced or even newer aikidoka could share their opinions and experiences. Its mainly just my hands and wrists I'm worried about, everything else is fair game. This is something I kind of wanted to find out before I went dojo searching. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Sorry this is so long-winded :D Best wishes


06-25-2004, 08:57 PM
One thing you should do when evaluating a dojo is talk to the students about injuries. There is some risk of injury in any school or style, but some dojo have a lot more than others, either because they practice a riskier form of aikido or because they're less safety-oriented. If you wish to make safety a priority you can choose your school with that in mind.

My dojo has a lot of older students (I'm younger than average at 40) and we're rather careful. There are certainly some injuries but it doesn't feel overly risky to me; our main complaints are shoulders and knees, though I know of one cracked rib. In a year and a half of regular practice I've done nothing worse than straining a muscle. There is a strong emphasis on knowing the line between safe and dangerous moves and staying firmly on the safe side.

The wrist stretches used in aikido warm-ups are said to protect you from carpal tunnel syndrome (if not done to excess) and I certainly found that to be the case--my wrists are much happier now than they were before I started, when all they did was type and mouse all day. If you decide to pursue aikido it would probably be a good idea to learn those stretches, making sure you know them with correct form, and then do them daily. That should reduce the chance both of aikido injuries and of everyday ones.

I figure that at my age, and with my rather careful dojo, taking up aikido has probably reduced my overall chance of injury by getting me in better shape and teaching me to fall correctly. My ambition is eventually to be an elderly lady who bounces off the floor when she falls rather than breaking her bones.... (Won't that impress them at the retirement home!)

Mary Kaye

06-25-2004, 09:07 PM
Thanks a lot, everything you said sounds like a good idea. I guess I just need to go to a dojo and ask lots of questions, and then decide. Thanks again.


Sue Trinidad
06-25-2004, 11:11 PM
Hey, Mark--

I'm a newbie seconding what Mary Kay has said: the new joint "cricks" I have experienced have been in shoulders, some in knees, and collarbone (the last caused when I let my arms collapse when rolling, I have learned). Wrists and hands are fine so far. I do stretch them a lot. Interestingly, my wrists bother me less now then they did when I was doing a lot of yoga practice, maybe because they aren't always bent in the same direction.

Most of the wrist stuff I've encountered so far is joint locks and pins, and if your partner is going slowly, you can get a good stretch of the wrist before it becomes painful. Regardless, one thing to know as a newbie is that you can "tap out" by hitting the mat (if you are down on your belly), or your thigh (if you're still standing), when you need nage to stop. (There's a thread on this here on AikiWeb--> http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5795&highlight=tapping) So you have some control over this.


06-26-2004, 12:46 AM
I've been studing an art closely related to Aikido for four years or so. I've found wrist injuries to be rather rare, most injuries are knee (mostly cause we do lots of kicking) and shoulder. if you are worried about it, just remember: tap early, tap often. You should be fine.

06-26-2004, 01:16 AM
Thanks a lot everyone. This is really helpfull stuff. Makes me even more excited to go find a dojo and start training. Thanks again


Paul Sanderson-Cimino
06-26-2004, 01:30 AM
An important safety tip: when doing any kind of control (ikkyo through yonkyo), go gradual. It's tempting, especially in jiyu-waza, to crank up the power and 'force them down' or whatever...but that's exceedingly dangerous for them, and arguably not the best aikido anyway. Be patient - if they don't move, just keep gradually applying the pressure until you feel like you're doing as much as you can without compromising balance. Think of it as giving your partner a good stretch, moving with them, rather than doing something to them.

Ebyan Alvarez-Buylla
06-26-2004, 01:36 AM
Look at it this way: martial art injuries are like plane crashes-- They hardly ever happen, but when they do everyone makes them out to be horribly frequent and they give planes a bad rep.

In Judo, the most "injuries" you'll get are from awkward falls or movements during randori ne waza, but these are practically short-lived muscle/joint soreness.

In Jiu-Jutsu, in which there are a lot of breaks, injuries are also extremely rare.

Aikido, being much more defensive and much less aggressive than these two arts, gives you much less chances to injure yourself.

As mentioned previously, stretches at the beginning of class will entirely nullify injuries of the type you're worried about. The worst you will get is a kind of muscle soreness in your forearm akin to that of lifting weights, but not an injury by any regards.

What happens most often, believe it or not, is mat burn (a rugburn from friction on the mat), and that's mostly on your feet. Also, when learning rolls, you will have to take a couple of awkward falls, but remember that the mat is very forgiving, and the worst that can happen are short-lived joint/bone/muscle soreness (anywhere from minutes to a day, at most), but not an injury at all, once again.

Best thing to tell you is not to think about it too much. If it's something you desire, go for it. Martial arts are very fulfilling specially if it's something you've kind of been considering for a while. I can speak from experience, the best thing to do is to just dive in, I put it off for a long time a while back, and now that I'm actively practicing I am enjoying it more than I imagined I would.

Best of luck to you. :ai:

Charles Hill
06-26-2004, 04:53 AM
Hi Mark,

I hate to be the odd one out and a voice of doom, but I broke my thumb a few years ago during practice. It took about a month until I could use it more or less normally. I will occasionally hit it funny and reinjure it. No matter how much you take care, there is always a possibility of getting hurt.

Charles Hill

Ebyan Alvarez-Buylla
06-26-2004, 05:28 AM
How encouraging for him :P

Something which you might want to keep in mind and which was sort of touched upon: your propensity to injury is directly related to how good of a nage you have.

It's common practice for your instructor to have you switch partners very often, at first you'll be going rather randomly, but once you get to know the people in your dojo you'll want to keep away from certain ones.

For example, there's a guy in my dojo who is extremely rough, non-smooth, brute, and just overall unpleasant to practice with (needless to say he's extremely inexperienced). A few days ago I overheard a conversation between his friend (who attends the same dojo) and him, and he was telling him how somehow every time he practices with him it hurts him a lot more.

Don't get me wrong, it's always supposed to hurt, but it's not supposed to have brute force backing it (very much not in tune with Aikido). When the Sensei or my sempai do it it hurts like hell, but you can feel the finesse rather than the roughness.

Just something to keep in mind. :ai:

06-26-2004, 10:23 AM
Hi Mark,

I'm also new in Aikido and started just several days ago. I asked the question about injuries and I found out that in my particular dojo there were two infuries in many years (as far as anybody can remember), but all of them were related to knee. That of course could be specific to my dojo. I must add that everyone I met in my dojo was extremely gentle (maybe because I as a beginner was practicing only with black belt students).

06-26-2004, 01:19 PM
Thanks again to everyone. Like Ebyan said, maybe I'm just thinking about it to much. Odds are, I'm guessing the more I think about the more likely it'll happen :D I guess the next step now is to go look for a dojo!! Thanks again.

Jessie Brown
06-26-2004, 02:44 PM
I just wanted to pipe in and add a quick point. The thing you have to beware of, that sometimes causes injuries for personality types like me, is being too ambitious in what you do. Especially when trying new and challenging techniques, take it slowly and don't expect too much of yourself. Being aware of your present limitations is really important.

Like Charles, I hate to be the voice of doom, but I have been seriously injured. This was my fault- not a nage or my dojo (which is really safe)- because I was getting too enthusiastic doing a solo practice of an advanced ukemi technique too quickly. There's challenging and then there's recognizing that "I can't do this...yet" (in the words of Wendy Palmer Sensei).


Larry John
06-26-2004, 02:51 PM
Hi, Mark!

In the three years or so that I've been training, one of the things I've learned is that, barring the occasional, unforeseen accident (toes or feet caught in hakama), many (most?) injuries aikidoka are likely to suffer are relatively minor, and are the result of three main factors, all of which are under our control:

1. Our own lack of awareness.

I've dislocated a couple of toes and fingers because I lost awareness of the position of the mats (toes can get caught and rolled in the gaps), and the position of my fingers (if open or spread, they are more likely to get jammed or torqued on our partners' bodies).

I also tore the TFCC ligament in one wrist (which hasn't affected my ability to use fine motor muscles) because I got behind on the ukemi when my very experienced partner got his hip into a textbook tsuki kotegaeshi. He did everything right, I just didn't recognize the need to move with him as early as I should have.

Mary Kaye is absolutely right about the benefits of aikido's wrist stretches. My hand surgeon (no I didn't have to get cut, but my doc thought it best to consult someone whose whole business starts at the wrist) was very impressed by the strength, flexibility and injury-resistance that aikido has given my otherwise historically puny wrists.

2. Our own fears and lack of trust.

I've seen people get hurt because they were so afraid of taking the ukemi that they stiffened up, put their hands on the mat to stop a fall or tried to over-control their bodies when it would have been better and safer to trust that the best way to prevent getting hurt is to do exactly what nage wants them to do.

3. Our own egos.

Sensei tells me I'm too darn goal oriented. I'm still working to eliminate the desire to have my technique result in a fall no matter what. During a test earlier this year, this mind set had me trying to bull my way through a bad shomenuchi koshinage omote on a guy who is six inches taller, 40 pounds heavier and 20 years more experienced than I am. I actually executed a 180 degree spin (decidedly NOT part of the technique) with this guy on my hip. The result? A partially torn hamstring, a very distressed training partner, and a new appreciation for the dictum "leave your ego off the mat."

Bottom Line: I think that as martial arts go, this is a relatively safe discipline, and, with appropriate training and awareness, you should be confident of your ability to avoid significant injury. I experienced many worse injuries in the first three years of my 30-year career as a volleyball player (major ankle sprains, strained knee ligaments, lower back strains, rotator cuff strains, and dislocated fingers) than I have in three-plus years of aikido.

Train with your mind and eyes open and you should be just fine.

06-26-2004, 04:33 PM
Thats funny you mentioned you have puny wrists Larry. I'm in that same boat! My hands aren't that entirely big either. I like all the points you mentioned. The more things I hear, the more it seems that it almost comes down to just common sense. But its great to hear all the things people have to say about there individual experiences. Thanks


Jeanne Shepard
06-26-2004, 11:08 PM
I would agree, as an occupational therapist (alot of hand therapists are occupational therapists) that Aikido is very GOOD for the hands, wrists and forearms. Aikidokas are easily identified by well defined muscles in the forearms. Just don't jam your fingers, nothing fatal, but they hurt for about a year.

06-27-2004, 04:46 PM
My sensei is a full time painter / art instructor. He doesn't seem to have any problems. If it's a really big concern of yours let the others in the dojo know them. And protect your wrists by tapping out a little early on pins or holds etc.

Best wishes

06-27-2004, 06:44 PM
Thats actually really nice to know. Thanks Nathan. Especially considering if he's your sensei, he's been aikido for awhile and he can still do his art too. Thanks