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-   -   Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13316)

Guybrush Wilkinson 09-26-2007 07:35 AM

Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Hello everybody!

I am all wired up now. I have been training Aikido for about a month now and yesterday on my Aikido class for the first time I managed to perform a technique correctly getting an idea what Aikido is about.

On Aikido classes, as a former competitive bodybuilder (18 years of training) I have had problems using too much of my strength when trying to have the desired effect on the uke. It was a wonderful feeling yesterday to be able to perform a technique well and see the uke fly with only MINIMAL energy from my side. How is this possible, I thought. I definitely want to learn more about this!

I hope I will have a lot more of those "aha - I got it" feelings during the years to come. Bodybuilding has nothing more to offer for me anymore. It is time for something else and I think I have found it now.

I consider myself pretty old at the age of 35 to start doing budo. On the other hand - isnt Aikido a martial art that has people practicing at a very old age?

If you think back your first times in Aikido class, what comes to your mind? What were the things that got you hooked up? Are they still there or have they changed during years somehow? When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?

What is the one, the most important thing that aikido brings to your life, if you have to name one?

Mattias Bengtsson 09-26-2007 07:53 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I'm still in my newbie years :D

But I started training at the age of 33 myself, and when I looked at all the other martial arts and thought that "those are a young mans game, I can't possibly compete with their speed and stamina" Aikido was the one that stood out as the one where those abilities wasn't necessary.

Compared to others, we are young.

And about your background as a body builder, I think any Dojo should be thrilled to have you. We have a few really strong ones at our Dojo and they are great to train against, as unless you do a technique just right, it wont work.
And you yourself have likely been in situations (or can imagine) where your great strength would have hurt someone if you tried to subdue them. For you, Aikido will be a great tool you can use when you don't want to hurt anyone.

SeiserL 09-26-2007 07:55 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Ah, a youngster.
I am a big (6'4" 220 lbs) man and started at 44, almost 13 years ago. The magic awe (never had ah-ha) brought me and keeps me, besides I am having a good time.

dps 09-26-2007 08:34 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190597)
On the other hand - isnt Aikido a martial art that has people practicing at a very old age?

Oh my aching bones. :)

David

aiki-kid 09-26-2007 08:44 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
"If you think back your first times in Aikido class, what comes to your mind?"

Ball games haha but i was pretty young when i started

"When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?"

try not to use your muscles too much and the most important thing of all, enjoy what your doing

RBPierce 09-26-2007 08:57 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Hey Guy, welcome to aikido and aikiweb!

Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190597)
When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?

The same advice given to everyone else, and of which I regularly have to remind myself- Relax!

Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190597)
What is the one, the most important thing that aikido brings to your life, if you have to name one?

Good question- I'll think about it.

dps 09-26-2007 09:00 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Whenever someone in class says," Grab my wrist', ask, "Why what are you going to do me".:D

David

Mike James 09-26-2007 10:06 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I too started when I was 35. Some of the things I love about this art are the use of body mechanics to control and direct my partner. It just fascinates me that when someone does THIS to me, my body does THAT! Another thing I really enjoy is the diversity in execution of the techniques ... so many ways to do the same technique! The wonder I find in the most subtle and small movements having a profound effect on my partner is also something I enjoy.

Chuck Clark 09-26-2007 11:17 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I started training in judo when I was six and didn't start aikido until I was twenty-one. I'm sixty now... and what I think about is: there are certain aspects of getting older that s*cks and there are many, many apsects of training that are absolutely wonderful.

Marie Noelle Fequiere 09-26-2007 12:32 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I started A´kido just one year ago, and I will be forty six in December. Of course, I trained in Shotokan before that, but, really, thirty five is not old even for a white belt. This is one of the many beauties of the martial arts: you can start at any age.
Like Matthias said, a big mean body builder is a blessing in an A´kido class. My instructors love to pair me up with this one guy who is not very tall, but incredibly stocky. Yes, he is a body builder. Working with him is a nightmare for me (I'm exactly five feet tall), but know it's also good for me. You just can't unbalance this guy with a less than perfect technique, and when I finally make it work, I know I ha've finally got it.
When you feel that you are using your strenght instead of technique, close your eyes, and relax all your muscles. You will be amazed how easy the technique will suddenly be. Of course, this works for a grab (wrist, lapel, sleeve...). It will be some more years before we can see a shomen coming at us, close our eyes and dispatch the assailant.
Welcome to the world of A´kido, and enjoy your training.

Guybrush Wilkinson 09-26-2007 01:07 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Quote:

Marie Noelle Fequiere wrote: (Post 190640)
I started A´kido just one year ago, and I will be forty six in December. Of course, I trained in Shotokan before that, but, really, thirty five is not old even for a white belt. This is one of the many beauties of the martial arts: you can start at any age.
Like Matthias said, a big mean body builder is a blessing in an A´kido class. My instructors love to pair me up with this one guy who is not very tall, but incredibly stocky. Yes, he is a body builder. Working with him is a nightmare for me (I'm exactly five feet tall), but know it's also good for me. You just can't unbalance this guy with a less than perfect technique, and when I finally make it work, I know I ha've finally got it.
When you feel that you are using your strenght instead of technique, close your eyes, and relax all your muscles. You will be amazed how easy the technique will suddenly be. Of course, this works for a grab (wrist, lapel, sleeve...). It will be some more years before we can see a shomen coming at us, close our eyes and dispatch the assailant.
Welcome to the world of A´kido, and enjoy your training.

Thanks Marie. Your post brought a smile on my face. This is how I like to think.

Another thing I┤d like to mention here is that now I really need to start improving my flexibility. I am not that very stiff as many could imagine, but I have a long way to go to get the flexibility I want. I guess the more flexible you are the less likely you are to injure yourself in Aikido. Am I correct?

Nick P. 09-26-2007 01:31 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190651)
. I guess the more flexible you are the less likely you are to injure yourself in Aikido. Am I correct?

Yup, you are correct (at least, I believe that will help me with my aikido).

That and cardio; nothing worse than when the mind, spirit and body are willing and able to keep taking ukemi from a sensei or fellow student and what drags you down is your aerobic capacity.

Answering your original question...
"When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?"
Use what you have, you are after all, you. And like noted above, stretch.

Dathan Camacho 09-26-2007 03:00 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I've only been an aikidoka for 6 months but I will share my limited experience combining weight training and aikido.

For a frame of reference, I don't consider myself a body builder because I'm an ectomorph at 6'3 and 235 lbs., but I do lift regularly. I usually lift 3 days per week, 2 exercises per body part, 4-5 sets per exercise, 6-12 reps per set, to failure. I usually do a pyramid set for the first exercise and a drop set for the second

One "watch out" in my opinion - you're combining resistance training and non-resistance training. On the plus side, having a nice insulating layer of muscle around your bones and joints is great for ukemi, and I've found that the breath control from Aikido greatly enhances my weightlifting. (I've been thinking about application of the "unbendable arm" principle for weight lifting but haven't experimented with it yet ;) ). The drawback for me is I find I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to mentally switch gears from a resistance mindset in the weight room to a non-resistance mindset as an ukemi, which makes me wonder if switching back and forth is delaying my progress towards non-resistance becoming a natural reaction. You’ll have to explore that for yourself, and I’d be interested in hearing feedback from you and everyone else on this topic.

Another "watch out" that you're quite familiar with - DOMS, or "delayed onset muscle soreness." I’ve advanced beyond the “squat till you puke” mentality I had when I was younger, but I still have a tendency to measure the success of a workout by how sore I am 1-2 days later. Unfortunately, putting a muscle group out of commission can make Aikido painful and potentially dangerous. I’ve found I have to schedule my workouts very carefully around my Aikido schedule to make sure I’m functional for each class. I've unfortunately had to scale back my weigh training some to better accomodate my Aikido, but I'm finding that Aikido is becoming more of a priority over time.

Another “watch out” that you’ve already mentioned – sometimes I can get by with poor technique because I can substitute strength for technique and still complete a throw or a pin. Unfortunately, that’s not teaching me anything. Two solutions (of many) are to train with somebody larger and weapons training. One of my fellow students is 6’6 and 275, and the amount of strength I would have to use to “muscle” him around the mat is so blatantly obvious that I can’t get away with it, which is good. Also, while we don’t do much weapons training at my current dojo, at least not at the beginner levels, at my previous dojo the instructor would have us use a jo specifically to prevent us from substituting strength for technique. Similar to practicing with a larger partner, the amount of strength needed to “muscle” someone around with a jo is blatantly obvious (or impossible) and allows self-or-instructor initiated correction.

My two cents, with a huge caveat that I’m an inexperienced aikidoka.

Basia Halliop 09-26-2007 03:40 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I think there's a limit to how much flexibility is good. You might need someone with more medical training to explain it right, but very loose joints aren't good either -- the ligaments and things restricting the range of motion are ultimately there for a protective reason.

Dathan Camacho 09-26-2007 04:32 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Lifting without stretching tends to reduce flexibility so I don't think excessive flexibility is a concern. Stretching will reduce DOMS too.

Guybrush Wilkinson 09-27-2007 04:21 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Thank you very much for your input!

I have to emphasize here that I am not going to combine weight training and aikido. My path of bodybuilding is walked through now (or at least that is how I feel now).

I am replacing bodybuilding and weight training with aikido, thus, DOMS will not be a problem. I know my muscle mass will cease too pretty soon, thus, some of it will allways remain. I dont think muscle mass after 18 years of training will completely vanish.

For me, this is a total change of training, pastime, mindset and allso life style. And I am thrilled to be carried away with something new.

Thanks again for your advice. Plenty of good advice here!

dps 09-27-2007 05:51 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
If you read a biography of O'Sensei you will find he had a fanatical desire to be stronger than anyone else.

http://aikidoonline.com/Archives/200...500_dosh1.html

"The Founder was full of youthful vigor. He had an unyielding spirit. If others did twice as much as ordinary people, he would do four times. If others carried 80 pounds, he would carry 160 pounds. His quick temper found good opportunities for expression in the rice-cake-making contests of his village.

In these contests a large scoop of a special type of cooked rice is placed in a huge stone mortar or bowl. Then a large sledge, something like a wooden mallet with elongated head, is used to pound the cooked rice. An assistant constantly turns the rice over on itself as it is being pounded. Gradually the rice is transformed into a rubber-like substance which is laid out in flat cakes to cool before eating. The weight of the sledge with its awkwardly-shaped elongated head, and the force and frequency of the kneading means that making the cake required.

In these contests the Founder eagerly matched himself against other strong young men-four, six. Then ten. All were defeated. Finally the Founder broke the pounder. He would go to other places to pound rice and again broke many pounders. People eventually had to politely refuse the Founder's offer to help make rice cakes for fear he might break more of them. Instead, they served tea and pastries, in the Japanese way reserved for honored guests, to keep him away from the rice-cake-making area."

David

Angela Dunn 09-27-2007 05:52 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
If you think back your first times in Aikido class, what comes to your mind?
Well my first class was in Feb this year so I have not been at it for that long. However I remember the feeling of OMG I am never going to be able to do that to leaving the first class thinking, Wow that was so cool whens the next class?

What were the things that got you hooked up?
The challenge of doing something new and totally diffrent than what people expected from me, (If people where to class me as anything it would be a theatre geek or bookworm! Big Change for me), the really friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the dojo and well the buzz of actually getting active.

Are they still there or have they changed during years somehow?
Still there, definitly.

When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?
Remember we don't all have the same amount of strength as you and strength is not everything, esp when doing take downs.

What is the one, the most important thing that aikido brings to your life, if you have to name one?
Wow, *Thinks* just one. Stability and friendship. I know that no-matter what else is going on in my life both good or more than not , not so good I can still go to the dojo and have that time to do something I enjoy for a few hours with people I enjoy being with.

mathewjgano 09-27-2007 09:40 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190597)
If you think back your first times in Aikido class, what comes to your mind? What were the things that got you hooked up? Are they still there or have they changed during years somehow? When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?

What is the one, the most important thing that aikido brings to your life, if you have to name one?

When I think back about the very beginning of my training, I think of the extreamly confounding nature of it. Beginning with my first observation of Aikido, which was skeptical, and extending from there i see a gradual shift toward understanding.
I hate to say it, but much of why I trained so much was born from unhappiness. I was depressed and living with a roomate who was a bit oppressive (a bigger personality than my insecurities could handle, at any rate). The dojo was a great environment filled with new friends and a stimulating set of ideas to consider. I've also always been very "spiritual" so it being a shrine attracted me as well. Now, those things are still there, but as I've grown these last nearly 10 years, the emphases have changed a little. Hard to describe how exactly except that I'm a little older and I feel less wise.
As for someone with large muscle mass, do lots of stretching is my only advice. I'm kind of the opposite to your situation: my upper body strength is fairly minimal. I've got strong legs from years of soccer and skiing, but my arms suck. It's forced me to rely more on structural strength, but that doesn't mean I haven't spent lots of time trying to muscle my way through technique like you described. Strong muscles help support your ligaments, etc. I can't see a problem with that, but I know many body-builders tend to be very tight and that can lead to muscle tearing and limited range of motion, so stretch lots to compliment your natural strength....per my opinion anyway.
If I have to name one, most important thing? Determination/sincerity. When I am as sincere a person as I know how to be, everything else seems to fall into place, regardless of how difficult it may be.
Cheers! And good luck!

Qatana 09-27-2007 07:47 PM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
I wouldn't give up moderate weight training, aikido really doesn't work your muscle groups and you don't want to lose tone. Of course I am a tiny 51 year old woman who uses low weights & high reps...Flexibility is also debatable-no one in my dojo but me can touch their toes without bending their knees. Rolling practice alone should give your back the flexibility it needs to do ukemi, however I am all for combining yoga with aikido.
Oh, at 2nd kyu I"m still very much in my newbie years. One thing I've loved was maturing from beng the "baby" in the class and resenting new students who "stole attention away from me" to being the first to welcome any new visitor or prospsctive dojo member with sincere enthusiasm.
And yeah, one of my favorite training partners is built like a ton of bricks.

Mark Uttech 09-28-2007 04:40 AM

Re: Newbie thoughts - think back your early years - what comes to your mind?
 
My early years was like entering a great ocean... "Hmmm... this is basic buddhism..."

In gassho,

Mark

Stefan Stenudd 09-28-2007 04:43 AM

Muscles
 
Quote:

Guybrush Wilkinson wrote: (Post 190597)
When you think about somebody with large amount of muscle mass starting aikido, is there any advice you would like to give?

My experience is that muscular people are very open to the aikido principles of softness and joining. They already know how to solve problems with strength, and therefore have a genuine interest in an alternative way. Otherwise, they would not care to try aikido.

What they often do need to work extra on, though, is stretching. Muscular mass usually leads to some stiffness - particularly in the shoulders, but also in hip movement. A person with several years of bodybuilding behind him or her, would probably have much to gain by doing much stretching, to soften up the body and increase its agility.

And strength is not a bad thing :) Muscular people who train aikido will learn to increase the efficiency and precision of their strength, so that they do in some sense feel much stronger than before, although they ceased with regular bodybuilding.


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