View Full Version : training for people with disabilities

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

peter martin-browning
05-02-2005, 08:49 AM
Hello everyone. My name is Peter Martin-Browning, and I've very recently started aikido training.
I work in the field of mental healthcare in Britain's National Health Service, and in private practice as a Gestalt psychotherapist.
I am most interested in the potential aikido has to give a guide for how to live, and in its spiritual dimension.
I live in Nottingham, England, with my wife and four cats.

I have just started training after many years doing no physical activity. In recent years I have developed arthritis (quite early, since I am just 50), and despite having discovered a sensei who is able to work with me at a very gradual pace, and who is knowledgeable about disability, I have already had painful swelling of ankles, and pain in my wrists with sudden loss of grip, as well as crunchy (more crunchy than usual) shoulders.

I wonder if there is anyone else in a similar position, or someone who is expert in these matters who could advise me about forms of exercise that are health-promoting in these circumstances. I am especially interested in methods such as qi gong which generate, balance and store ki. Is there a Japanese equivalent of qi gong, perhaps? Also I would be interested to know if anyone has benefited from particular dietary supplements or medicines in similar circumstances.
I am a little diffident about using my introductory post to mention disability. I'm aware it's hardly a cheerful subject. I do so because I am very keen to find ways to support myself to continue training.

Whatever the outcome of my posting this topic, I look forward to making contact with people from around the world.

With best wishes

Joost Korpel
05-02-2005, 09:45 AM
I too have arthritis and constantly struggling with the balance of managing my arthritic pain and practicing aikido. As you have already discovered, the pain and swelling can get worse the next day after aikido. I've purposefully chosen not to tell training partners in my dojo that I have arthritis. Not because of pride, but because I don't want my partners thinking about my disability when they should be concentrating on doing good technique. I do however let my partner know if a particular technique needs to be eased up a bit. For example, wrist pain - please don't crank on the Kote gaeshi, or swollen finger joints - don't squeeze the Sankyo please, hip pain - no Shiho nage high falls. You get the idea. If your arthritis is severe enough I would recommend you tell the head instructor.

Some advice:

1) being new to Aikido your probably very enthused about practicing and hate to miss practices. Learn to ease up on yourself, and listen to your body. It may be telling you one practice a week is all it can handle.
2) Don't force yourself to practice through pain. This will only lead to complications later on. Don't be afraid to ask your sensei permission to leave the mat because of excessive joint pain. In this case I would tell sensei about your arthritis. Don't feel that you wasted a class by doing this, even if you just done the warm ups and nothing else, you've done some good for your mind and body.
3) Once a week in our dojo we offer a weapons class. This is mostly weapons kata and partner training. As it rarely involves any throws its very easy on my arthritis yet provides great strength and flexibility training. If only I could stop stabing myself in the eye with that tanto :hypno:
4) Stick with it. As a male you have one great weapon in your arsenal for fighting arthritis, testosterone. The more of this natural steroid you produce the less trouble you have with arthritis. Exercise is the best way to generate testosterone. It will also reduce your weight which is also easier on the joints. In other words if you keep exercising in moderation, in time your body will be able to better fight your arthritis naturally. It least that was the experience for me.
5) A couple of Advils an hour before class works wonders ;)

Best of luck with your training,


05-04-2005, 02:37 PM
I'm only 13 and don't know what arthritis pain is like, but do you warm up and stretch before class? Before our class, my knees are stiff and i can hardly sit in seiza. After tha warmup, I am much more elastic. Also, shoulder rolls are very good for crunchy shoulders:P As for qi gong, there are some very decent books out there. My favorite is Chi kung: way of energy by Lam Kam Chuen. The guy who wrote the book lives and teaches in London chinatown, I think. And finally, way to go haveing four cats! The world could always use more cats:D

Jeanne Shepard
05-04-2005, 06:56 PM
I'm an occupational therapist and recommend Aikido to a variety of people with disabilities.
I'm impressed that you've chosen to do this; I don't consider it a downer at all that you mention it. We all have some sort of disability. Those of us who are survivors are the ones who've learned to work around them.

Take it easy and stop if you need to.


Jeanne :D

peter martin-browning
05-05-2005, 10:36 AM
To Joost, Burt and Jeanne.
I read your replies to my post on 5th May. I am overwhelmed by receiving your kind replies, which I found immensely helpful
Burt, - yes I do carefully warm up, and my sensei encourages me to do less (since that will inevitably be more). You are very kind to mention the book, and I am glad it has inspired you.

Joost, you may have saved me from myself! Already I have entered the mind-set that I must get to every practice, and I must practice for a minimum time when I am at home. That attitude has forced me to stop altogether for a while. I thank you for reminding me that a frequency of practice that I can sustain is better than forcing myself do too much, which forces me to take breaks.

Jeanne, thank you for your reassurance. You remind me that suvivors work round problems, - they don't simply either confront them in a self-defeating way or give up completely. I will take heart from your reminder to stop if I need to.

Thank you all very much for your kind remarks.

Anat Amitay
05-05-2005, 10:57 AM
Dear Peter,
I'm happy to read the replies you received, and hope they help you. I'm a physiotherapy student (finishing in 2 months), and just wanted to know if you are taking any medication or if you're just aware of your arthritis without treatment. I know it's a problem that is more "deal with it" and not really "solvable", but if I hear of anything that can help you, I'll write you.
take care and enjoy Aikido, no matter how much you get to train!

peter martin-browning
05-17-2005, 06:21 AM
Dear Anat

Many thanks for your reply. I use an array of treatments, from analgesia to volatile oils, with some success. I am about to see a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, and in that system they prescribe qi gong exercises, ( a bit like Chinese yoga) which I hope willl not only help the arthritis but also the development of ki to promote health and create a foundation for my aikido. I have studied taiji a little, and I have seen that the principle of directing, generating and storing the "chi" (Chinese version of "ki") is at the heart of these arts.
I try to cultivate the attitude that some aikido, however little, is better than no aikido, and so I feel grateful for my practice even though it is limited. I have also begun to discover that there is a tradition of exercises purely to generat and store ki, even though it seems to be hidden (in the sense that it is often discussed as an after-thought, rather than as the foundation of aikido).

At your service


05-17-2005, 08:23 AM
Greetings and welcome from another gestaltist in the mental health field.

Arthritis run in the family. I have bad knees, back, and shoulders.

Warm up, relax, and breathe. Train wisely and slowly initially. Learning proper form will prevent further damage or injury. Gently stretch everyday.

Research on dietary supplements are anecdotal at best. But read and find what works for you.

As you know, overcoming a problem by force doesn't bring resolution. It is the awareness and acceptance of what is that offers relief.

Welcome to the mat, the dance, and origami with people.

the slayer
05-20-2005, 12:09 PM
hi, hi have lots of disabilities and i go to the komyokan dojo in birkenhead.i have diabetes,lupus,( is an auto immune disease which makes you tired quite a lot of the time) kidney problems,sliding hiatus hernia (which at the moment means no forward or backward breakfalls)underactive thyroid which also makes you tired.bad knees also just found out that i have a cyst on my liver and fluid on my left lung.this is all true but have been in aikido for 5yrs i am doing my 4th kyu on tues or maybe tues thurs see how i feel hopefully do it all tues sensei said because of all the problems you can do half your grading tue then the next half thurs see how i feel first tho there are some moves i can't do so don't do them.the students i train with think i am brilliant at keeping to aikido with all these problems as they see beginners who are healthy and nothing wrong with them turn up for a few weeks then don't turn up and me ill always turn up at least i know now that i am not on my own with disabilities feel better now