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David Thommen
08-04-2005, 06:08 AM
I am getting ready to begin studying aikido. I come from a background of several styles of karate (kenpo, shito ryu). One of the concerns I have with aikido is whether or not I am going to get a workout like I have with karate. In both systems we did a lot of sparring and it was a great workout. Just curious as to everyone's thoughts and insights on this.

Nick Simpson
08-04-2005, 06:24 AM
If you train at a high standard then yes, you should get a good workout. Hajime training whereby you throw someone your alloted times and then swap and be thrown and then continue this all night is a great workout. Repeated randori is also great for breaking a sweat. Sometimes you have classes where you learn principles and dsicuss things and really work things out, other times you have bashing classes where you just batter each other for 2 hours. Its upto you how you train, you get out what you put in...

Robert Rumpf
08-04-2005, 06:30 AM
Aikido tends to give bad workouts up front, but after you've learned ukemi (how to fall) and know where to place your feet, things become more aerobic. At least that was my experience.. If you feel like you're not exercising enough, its often because there is a lot of technique ground to cover, and Aikido encourages slower movement to learn. You can always do the the same techniques at a higher rate (and more sloppily) before class or after with a willing partner if you find someone who also wants to sweat.

I'm not sure that you'll ever get as good of a workout from Aikido as from karate, if your idea of a workout includes things like pushups, situps, etc. as that's not commonly done during class in Aikido. The justification is that people can do such things without instruction.

As an aside, if you're interested in building muscle - I'm finding that I get progressively weaker and weaker in my upper body from my Aikido practice. Aikido by itself is probably not a way to build muscle, since pushing and pulling with the arms is frowned upon. If you're trying to use minimum energy in a technique, your arms will get weaker. I guess you can counteract this by lots of weapons work with a heavy bokken, and of course by exercising on the side.

If you make it far enough, I can guarantee that you'll be tired by multiple person randori, which is excellent exercise.

In any rate, it all varies by dojo. Look around at the people in the dojo to see how fit they appear, and judge accordingly, and/or do what they do off the mat.


David Thommen
08-04-2005, 08:49 AM
I am not so concerned with push-ups and sit-ups, I do plenty of those daily at my home. One of my "complaints" about Karate dojos is your spending $100 a month and spending the first fifteen minutes of and hour long class doing push-ups and sit-ups. My concern is the aerobic workout. If there is a sustained pace within the art to keep the cardio going.

08-04-2005, 09:09 AM
I've done Karate for years. Pretty much my experience is that it isn't extremely aerobic, but you will fall a million times and pick yourself up. I always feel as though I've worked out after each class.

Be prepare to learn the concept of blending.

Lyle Bogin
08-04-2005, 09:41 AM
Having also spent a good deal of time sparring and in the ring, I find my aikido practice to be equally physically challenging but with a few differences. Aikido has a larger anaerobic component, and requires a great deal of muscular endurance for long training sessions. As uke I face the biggest aerobic component, since keeping up with my nage is essentially running.

It's exhausting, but a different kind of exhaustion. It's also easier to control your heart rate and pacing.

David Thommen
08-04-2005, 09:41 AM
Kind of a little off the subject, but which book(s) would you recommend for a beginning aikido student?

08-04-2005, 01:14 PM
One of the concerns I have with aikido is whether or not I am going to get a workout like I have with karate. In both systems we did a lot of sparring and it was a great workout.
It varies a lot from place to place. Some dojos will give you a stiff workout, others wont. There are even a few where you can expect to be "sparring" pretty early in your aikido career.

Its impossible to give a definitive answer, I'm afraid, you'll just have to check out your local dojos and see for yourself.
(Though if you mention where in the world you are, people here may have a dojo in mind to recommend to you.)


ps: Same applies to the books, there are some very good ones, but as a beginner you'd need them to be appropriate to the style you're practicing to avoid confusion. You need to settle on a dojo first, and look at the books after, imho.

08-12-2005, 07:43 PM
If you are merely concerned with a work out, then go to the local gym as I do not recommend you train Aikido for this sole purpose. Sure, Aikido has its physical benefits but the most activity is during the first 30 mins during warm ups. You get some cardio while training but you have to do some watching and listening therefore there is a slight amount of downtime.

Never use any martial art for the sole purpose of cardio. You are there to engorge yourself in a philosophy about a great many things. Being only concerned with cardio will not only set yourself up for failure, but your mind will become distracted and your progress will be declined.

Having said this, I do not like alot of down time in training myself. I get annoyed when things are running slow. Soe guy will try to break everything down and it just eats away at the clock so my nature is to take over and get thing moving to maximize the aloted time for traning. Still, I should take my own advice and not be disrupted by thoughts of annoyance. Hope this helps.

David Thommen
08-12-2005, 10:36 PM
Thanks for the post. I am not getting into Aikido for the sole purpose of a cardio workout (apologize for the confusion). I have, since my first post, attended two classes. One class was a great workout. I worked with some of the upper ranks and it was a very brisk workout. The other class was more technical and not as heavy of a workout. I guess it depends how many times you pick yourself up off the floor.
My draw to Aikido is the philosophy of no competition. Both Karate schools I have gone to stressed alot of competition. The most recent one I wondered whether or not I would leave class with a black eye or not. As new students would come into class and have something to prove to the upper belts (of which I was one). It was quite a unhealthy environment.
Anyway, the atmosphere at the Aikido dojo is much different. It has been, just in these two classes, such a joy to train again. I can tell that Aikido is going to be a life long art that I will be studying.
Any other prospective new students that may read this thread I urge, strongly, to pursue aikido.

Man do I feel better!!!

08-12-2005, 11:51 PM

If I may offer an ďo-so-humbleĒ bit of advice...

As a recent returnee to aikido after fifteen years, I wish someone had offered me the same bit of advice upon starting my training in aikido....start an aikido journal. Write down the classes you attend and the techniques learned each night. Include a description in your own words. If you donít recall the names of the techniques, ask a sempai. He or she should be able to answer your questions.

After about five months in aikido, I had my first kyu test. Believe it or not, the hardest part was associating the name with the technique. (In my then dojo, techniques were called out during a test) Before then, I had never written down what I heard or saw. I just watched (ignoring most of the discussion as it was in a language I did not understand) and did my best to emulate what I had witnessed.

When I was told I would be testing, I suddenly had all these phrases that I had to associate with technique. (i.e. with punch to stomach, step in toe to toe, grab wrist with opposing hand, step off line, bring controlled hand to center breaking ukeís balance, pivot 180 degrees....blah, blah, blah...pin uke.) I knew how to execute the technique, but didnít know all the names....

I was lucky enough to have a great training partner and uke for my test. He taught me the names and ensured I knew the technique. Actually, I personally think he helped me past my test. Which I did and for which I am enternally greatful to this man.

Of course, even there after I failed to keep a journal of training and technique. I have since returned to aikido after a fifteen year absence and still find myself confused on ryote and myrote dore, omote and ura waza, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I can do the techniques, but not by name, only after demonstration.

So now, I have a journal. And in class, I make myself consciously think of the terms before I execute the technique. I also write down the comments of my nage/uke regarding technique and style as well as my own comments regarding execution of technique. (Of course, this assumes that you have respect for the level of training of your nage/uke.)

The writing helps to solidify what I am trying to do, and the comments help me to recall the areas in which I need workl. And yes, I do reread my journal frequently -- generally right before I head to class.

Just my humble suggestion...


David Thommen
08-13-2005, 08:25 AM

That is a great idea. Coming out of a couple of different styles of karate having a journal was not an issue. How much explanation do you need to give yourself for a straight punch to the head? Do you purchase some type of a bound journal or do you use a spiral notebook? Do you write the things learned down after class or during?

Thanks for the idea!

08-14-2005, 09:05 AM

I usually ask about the names of techniques after class and write them down. Once home, I take about twenty minutes to write down as much as I can recall about each technique, any comments from the instructor or other sempai regarding my form and technique and anything I noticed myself. If I had a few "ah ha" moments, I write those down as well.

I also write about my personal experience and feeling with the class -- but that's just me.

Use a basic spiral journal, nothing fancy. I also will go back and re-read old pages if I know we've done a given technique before....helps me to see differences, etc. More than anything, I keep a journal because writing something down, for me, really helps me to retain that information.

Also, after a few months training, it's fun to look back and realize how much you have already learned -- even if you still feel like you know nothing :-)