AikiWeb Poll for the week of December 30, 2001:
Is knee-walking and suwariwaza in aikido bad for you in the long run?
suwariwaza & Co
Just two points that helped me:
1st; don't skid around on your kneecaps but use the top front part of your tibia. Joints like the knee are far too sensitive, especially when turning.
2nd; always keep your heels together!!
I do have frequent knee problems because of Suwari Waza. However, I don't believe that Suwari Waza by itself is really hard on the knees. Several years of Judo and 2 car accidents have damaged my knees to a certain extent, and I feel that Suwari Waza just reminds my knees of these sleeping injuries and brings back my old pains.
I would be curious to know of any knee injuries directly linked to Aikido practice (not previous injury).
I think Edward has the right track... I have a torn meniscus in one knee (from college crew) and it occasionally acts up during Aikido, but it also occasionally acts up when I run, or on long marches. Nothing in Aikido has hurt the other knee. I think when most complain about knee problems, it is just old problems we have brought to Aikido.
I think there are two things, if done incorrectly, could hurt you in Aikido: tenkan movements if you 'plant' your foot and try to turn on it, and surari waza/shikko if you put you weight over your knees, or bang them down, or don't keep your heels together. But done correctly, I think there is no stress on the knees.
I think the answer to this must be ...
It really depends on the condition of your knees to start with. Of course we must do our best to keep proper posture and movement in all of our practice.
At all times, take good care of your knees.
(Warning, long, rambling, semi-coherent post).
All other factors (previous knee condition etc) being
No, if you do it properly.
Yes, if you do it badly, same as most else in aikido.
When I started off, I couldn't do more than one lap of the
mat. Even after a few years, when I was keeping my
knees together, I could only do three or four.
Together with my sensei at the time, I played with the
mechanics of it, and came to the conclusion that it
should be like walking (duh). When most people I've
seen do shikko, they transfer all their weight onto one
knee, then swing around (grinding the knee into the
mat) and plant the other knee. However, when we're
walking, we don't do that but instead keep ourselves
'falling but putting our feet in the way' as someone
here (George Simcox?) once said. If you try this
in shikko there's much less pressure on the knees,
you keep yourself much lower and it looks and feels
much more natural, and a lot faster. On their tapes,
both Ikeda sensei and Saotome sensei move more
Now, a couple of years ago I saw Tamura sensei
(the one from France) practice shikko in a different
way - keeping the hips forward and moving from
seiza to seiza - not keeping the ankles together. I
asked one his instructors, Nebi Vural, who also
teaches this, about it. He said that Tamura sensei
told him that *this* was the correct way to do
shikko, but non-Japanese had trouble with it
at the beginning, and so were taught the
children's method of 'keeping ankles together'.
I don't know how true that is, but it is like the
shikko in the iaido I've done, and incidently its
the only shikko I've seen outside an aikido dojo
(in a resturant near Osaka - the waitress moved
around like this).
Maybe someone who's spent more time in
Japan than me can say - how do people do
"shikko in daily life" (the title of my next book)?
P.S. Do many people practice the Western
equivalent of shikko - attacks while sitting in
P.P.S. Happy new year, y'all.
I think what you described sounds like what my first dojo called 'formal shikko'...we did the feet together for technique, formal for moving forward to receive test certificates from sensei (the only thing that stuck in my head about it was doing it quickly on a canvas mat gave you burns on the top of your foot)...but I haven't seen it anywhere else, not that I've been to an extensive number of places...:rolleyes:
I don't know that I use it daily, but I do use shikko in the garden when planting and for picking peas, spinach, etc.
And it came in quite handy when I was in the Military reserves on training exercises in the bush.... Everyone else was trying to figure out how to be quiet and move with their field packs and weapons, and wondered how I could move along so close to the ground carrying all that *!@%# :).
Suwariwaza gets my toes. I feel like I'm balancing on chopsticks, the durn things are so inflexible. Realizing that I was unconsciously avoiding movement during suwariwaza a while back, I began warming up before class with laps around the mat. All it's been doing is putting holes in my hakama. (I now do shikko with my hakama in my hands, as if trying to avoid mice...)
I don't think the problem is shikko but sensei's attitude. I have seen people with knee problems encouraged to do shikko to the extent of progressive deterioration of their ability to walk properly.
I believe it is important for a sensei to encourage people to perform up to (maybe a little beyond) their abilities, but to know their physical limitations (we have students from teens to 60s). It should be acceptable for people to say they can't do something rather than be damaged (it is also up to the sensei to tell them they are underestimating their abilities!).
Happy New Year to all aikidoka!
That makes some sense. Certainly in the middle of a
technique you don't want to use this kind of shikko (esp.
turning as in shihonage or kaitenage). The 'formal'
version seems more for moving while being centred
and 'prepared' - those pesky ninja are everywhere
(you just can't see them).
As for carpet burns, you'll get those if you put too much
pressure on the feet - the calves and knees have to be
Talking of carpet burns, during a weekend course we
had a few weeks ago we spent a morning training
on a gymnastics training mat - basically carpet tiles
over thick foam padding. People doing breakfalls
would bounce completely back off the floor. Because
it was carpet, by the end of the morning everyone
had burns on their feet and forearms - some really
badly. You can still tell in the dojo who tucks their
toes under at the end of a roll, and who doesn't, but
the scarring on the top of the foot.
but I do think that training does put a lot more pressure on the knees than simply everyday life, which can cause problems.
Does anyone know if there are other arts that use suwari waza (or something like it)?
I think the main point to remember here is about flexibility. Muscles can be made flexible in a relatively short amount of time. Whereas tendons take a very long time to gain flexibility. If one starts early in life and maintains flexibility, it is rather easy. But, when adults start to get into Aikido, most haven't done any joint flexion for quite some time. Most gaijin like myself are very interested in quick results. It took me about 1.5 years to gain flexibility in my knees and other joints. Trying to get this flexibility too quickly will result in small tears in the ligaments which results in scar tissue. This will make it take even longer to get the desired flexibility in the joints. So I say that patience and constant practice 'within' one's limitations (and a little beyond of course) are what is needed. Not listening to your body and making it do what it's not designed to do will result in injury. Aikido is not the cause.
[quote]Originally posted by bcole23
[b]I think the main point to remember here is about flexibility. Muscles can be made flexible in a relatively short amount of time. Whereas tendons take a very long time to gain flexibility.
Hi. I've been working on an aikido and knee injury research project (a preliminary report should be available within a month....) and also doing lots of research on knee injuries in general. FWIW, I'm a public health nurse with a background in acute rehab and am off training myself rilght now recovering from acl graft....
I wanted to address the above first of all.
Muscles are meant to be flexible. Tendons and ligaments are meant to NOT be flexible; they are the bindings, so to speak. We rely on them for structural support/integrity and it "should" be the muscles that give and tear a little bit if anything "has to."
Having said that.... normal aikido training puts stress on the knees, most often in standing technique, due to the lateral torquing involved in these maneuvers. If the foot is planted, or if you get static, or if the upper and lower bodies "disconnect", or if the knee turns too far in or the stance is too in or too out, and you add in a big hip turn, its a potential torquing injury (meniscus and/or acl).
Either of those puts you at very high risk for osteoarthritis, aka degenerative joint disease, aka "wear and tear." That is what concerns me: I suspect, though don't know of any research, that suwariwaza may pose a problem related to osteoarthritis. I honestly don't know. My current research is focussing on acute inuries, not chronic ones. But I'm going to start chatting more with orthopedists, athletic trainers, etc about suwariwaza and will certainly share whatever I learn.
I think the problem with standing techniques is, as you say, the torque on the knee when a turn in done incorrectly , ie, planting the foot and turning the hips. This is the mechanism of football injuries, when a players cleats dig in as he cuts and twists his knee injuring the ligaments and menicus.
I think the complaints from seiza and suwari waza, other than aggravating old injuries, may come a great deal from chondromalacia/patella-femoral syndrome, from forcing the femur against a too soft underside of the patella. And that this was before unknown to the person because they didn't do much of the 'usual' things that brings this to a patient's attention: things that jam the femur to patella that way, ie basketball, running, climbing stairs. Unfortuanately, while most pain in Aikido is from doing something incorrectly, and so should be able to be identified and corrected so so real damage is done, I don't see much a person with PFS could do other than avoid that which causes pain (and take NSAIDS).
As an interesting side note, I discovered when doing a high volume of prescribing doxycycline and Cipro a few months ago that one side effect of Cipro I hadn't known about was increased risk of tendon rupture...something to think about any time a physician prescribes ANY medication, even for non-joint related issues, is to ask about side effects. Another gentleman in my dojo kept thinking his back ache was due to age and rolling, until he mentioned it to his physician and found he was having rhabdomyolysis (muscle destruction) from his cholesterol lowering medication.
In silat there are some seated techniqes, but they aren't done in a position like seiza. It is almost like sitting halfway indian-style (sorry...not a good description). Also in Kali there we do depak (not sure of spelling) drills to drop from standing to our knees, strike, turn and stand.
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