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DonnaQ
11-07-2004, 11:44 AM
One of the largest problems I have faced when I started Aikido was keeping balance. I was a pretty clumsy kid and though I am better, I still do trip over my own feet at times. As you can imagine, this is horrible for when I am doing tenkans or any other type of footwork that must be required (that takes more than just one step :P). This is also coupled with the fact that I have only been doing Aikido for little more than a month.

I thought at first that perhaps I was putting too much weight on one foot so that moving it would be more difficult than it should be, but I have tried to remedy this by evening out my weight-shifting and that does help a bit more, but I am still pretty...clumsy.

If anyone has some tips on practicing balance... or extra exercises that I could do to help, I would really appreciate it if they voiced their advice. :D

Thank you.

Jordan Steele
11-07-2004, 11:53 AM
Practicing balance is beneficial for everyone but it seems to me that your "clumsiness" is in your head more than anything. Don't think about what your doing so much, just do it.

SeiserL
11-07-2004, 11:56 AM
IMHO, I have found that skipping rope in the privacy of my own garage helped by balance, rhythm, and coordination greatly. Also, watch the alignment and posture, make sure the body supports itself.

aikidoc
11-07-2004, 03:01 PM
Bend your knees slightly. If you start to lose your balance bend your knees a bit and you should regain some balance. A good exercise is the stork exercise - stand on one leg. It will help your pelvis stabilizing muscles.

DaveO
11-07-2004, 03:14 PM
I agree with Lynn; skipping rope is a fantastic exercise. :)

In my experience; 'clumsiness' is a result of two factors: 1) Not being aware of the body's position (both in relation to itself and your surroundings) and 2) not having control of your body.

Lynn said: Also, watch the alignment and posture, make sure the body supports itself.
Perfectly said; and often overlooked. In the strictest sense; the body is a tower resting on a bipod - a very unstable structure. Insure that the bipod stays under the tower - IOW; work on keeping the legs under the body; not on keeping the body over the legs; if that's clear. :)

Here's an exercise that I found helps wonders: walking lines.
Assuming your club's mats are the same as most people's - a bunch of rectangular mats velcroed together - try this:

Start at one edge of the mat; standing on a line. (Make sure you're going the long way; or you're going to be turning a lot. :D :D )

Stand with one-point; relaxed; weight evenly balanced. Drop one-point slightly; about an inch. This roots you to the ground without making you rigid. That's the key to physical balance - remaining relaxed with a low center of gravity.
(As a woman; you have a major advantage over us guys in this area - your C of G is much lower.)
Important point: Keep your shoulders relaxed; arms hanging loose with your hands at one-point. Don't spread them out to keep balance; all that's gonna do is raise your center and make you unstable. :)
Once you're standing on the line in this fashion; walk the line. (Insert Johnny Cash music here. :D )
Roll your hips forward; taking the weight onto the ball of your leading foot. Once the rear foot is free; slowly move it forward; bringing down the ball of the foot onto the line; shifting one-point forward as you move.
Walk the line the full length of the mat in this fashion. Go smooth but slow. If it takes you 5 minutes to walk the length of the mat; that's a good speed. Concentrate on being aware of your body's every position. When you reach the end; turn around and walk back.
If you do this enough; you'll find your balance - and your co-ordination - improving greatly.



Cheers!

Janet Rosen
11-07-2004, 03:34 PM
The chances are that continuing to train in and of itself will help with this proprioception and balance (where body and its parts are in space) but if you are really wanting to do something specific outside the dojo, see if you can find a trainer or PT to work with you on a tilting/rocking platform, learning to maneuver your weight on it, doing slow up and down knee bends and lateral weight shifts on it, and playing catch on it.

DonnaQ
11-07-2004, 04:12 PM
Oh wow, thank you everyone for you comments. They were all very helpful.

I probably should not think about it too much because that usually does make things worse. I often clear my mind beforehand, but when a problem becomes repetitious... you do lose that initial focus and frustration breeds rampantly.

Skipping rope sounds like a fantastic idea and I do recall myself being clumsy with that activity before too. :o I will have to take out the old rope and jump some in the yard. I am pretty sure I must have one somewhere. If not, I will purchase one. :D

I have tried bending my knees more as well, and that usually keeps me too stationary so it seems harder to move? And I also find that my ankles are not very flexible yet so that proves to be a bit difficult, but I am doing exercises to increase the flexibility there too. :p

And Dave, the exercise you mentioned sounds simple enough to do (but how complicated is it really? ;) ). So I will definitely try it out since it does not require any additional things besides my body.

I really must just practice and try skipping rope and that walking exercise. A trainer may be a more helpful thing to have, but don't have the money to spare for something like that. :p

It slipped my mind to mention it before since it is pretty much "cured", but one of the reasons that I was a clumsy kid was because of my feet. My parents told me that when I was a baby, my feet would always lean inward instead of outward and since they never broke me out of the habit, I had a problem with walking very straight because of the leaning. I did manage to overcome this problem by practicing by walking on lines (I stopped practicing at one point for some reason). And I am obviously much better, but I do sometimes fall into the habit of my feet leaning in when I relax them while I sit. I think this may be why I trip over my feet sometimes.

Thanks again everyone. :)

maikerus
11-07-2004, 08:02 PM
As people have said, don't worry about the feeling of clumsiness. It will go away as you continue to train.

That being said, I have found that trying to do basic movements on my tiptoes really helps with my balance training. In Yoshinkan, we've got the 6 basic movements to try this on, but the idea will work with any movements that you do regulary.

Any pivots or sliding movements you do try it on your toes instead of the whole foot. Suriashi is also a good one to try like this (just sliding along the mat).

Another good thing to try is instead of having uke grab your whole wrist in a technique, have them grab a finger or two instead. It's a lot easier to feel where your balance is in relation to your uke when your fingers get twisted. Of course, be careful with this and don't let your uke rip them off <grin>

Good luck...keep practicing...you'll be fine.

--Michael

xuzen
11-07-2004, 09:57 PM
If anyone has some tips on practicing balance... or extra exercises that I could do to help, I would really appreciate it if they voiced their advice. :D

Thank you.

Try ballroom dancing, or for something extra challenging, Indian classical dance plus yoga to improve your sense of balance. :D

Cheers mate,

Boon.

JJF
11-08-2004, 02:20 AM
Skiing... it's really great. Go skiing....

However I believe that some people simply are more clumsy than others. It might be due to influences during their mothers pregnancy or it might be simply a matter of genetic disposition. A lot can be achieved by practice, but some will inevitably have a hard time learning it. As long as you have fun and keep your focus on the road instead of the goal it should be no problem..

DonnaQ
11-08-2004, 07:18 PM
Thanks for your comments you guys. :D I will try out your suggestions except for perhaps the skiing. Although, I do want to ski some time in my life... just not a good time right now. :P

I am going to do some of the movements suggested tonight. :)

Bronson
11-08-2004, 11:24 PM
Here's an exercise that I found helps wonders: walking lines.

Oh, does that ever bring back tai chi memories :) I remember having to walk real slow and controlled around and through the training area for the entire hour class for a few days before being taught the first movements of the form.

Surprising how helpful it was.

Bronson