Thread: Stretching
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:05 AM   #24
Carl Thompson
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Location: Kasama
Join Date: Nov 2006
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Re: Stretching

Keith Larman wrote: View Post
All I can say is that you must be in great shape. Cause if I don't get some warm up movement in before training I'm going to be regretting the first few times I hit the mat. There are various body parts on me that need to loosen up a bit before I can get out there. Well, before I can get out there with a realistic expectation of being able to get back off under my own power...
Hello Keith

I agree about warming up in the sense of "loosening" or raising the temperature of the body although the extent depends on the season for me. I think the preparatory exercises aren't just about that and I don't regard stretching as being for that.

If you look at Chris's link, one important point is the purpose of stretching. I don't see the need to specifically warm-up the omote kinniku (outer muscles) for the purpose of doing aikido training or how stretching would do that anyway. I agree that movement exercises for "loosening up" and raising the temperature of the body generally (inside and out) are fine as needed.
The difference is in intention. The intention of stretching in the context of good qigong, yoga or martial arts is to focus the mind, to stimulate vitality through a combination of mental and physical exercise. The intention is everything without the intention, you might as well not bother with these activities.
I can't see how the stretching parts of the makko-ho and Nishi health systems are intended to loosen up or raise the temperature of muscles. Katsuzō Nishi created his exercises from practising all kinds of health systems including Yoga. He was also a direct student of the founder of aikido and instrumental in the creation of the Aikikai. I don't think Nishi-shiki exercises caught on within the aikido community just because of this position though. Osensei also incorporated Nishi's exercises into his warm-ups along with the makko ho. Here he can clearly be seen doing these stretches.

I am not an advocate of Osensei did it, so it must be right. I am an advocate of Osensei was a gifted martial artist with a good understanding of how to cultivate the human body, so there is a very good chance he knew what he was doing. There is a good chance that he took things of value from Nishi-shiki and the makko-ho.

Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Because we are moving.
We are not power lifting but we are moving in space, rolling, falling, receiving pins, etc. Warmed muscles move through activity with less chance of microtears or overstretch injury.
In Japanese the preparatory exercises are usually called "junbi undo" or "junbi taiso". The whole job lot of exercises sometimes gets referred to as "warming up" in English. When I teach English, I usually do a "warming up" activity that has nothing to do with body temperature or loosening up the body for movement or falling (actually... it depends on the age of the students. ) The point is that there are different ways in which we are using terminology here.

Let's disambiguate this a little more by totally separating "warming up" from "stretching" within the umbrella-term of "preparatory exercises". If we do that, I think we are in agreement regarding the "warming up" part. The value and purpose of stretching as an activity not for raising temperature/loosening within the preparatory exercises is something I would like to resolve a little more if possible.

Specifically I am interested to know which muscles Osensei is in danger of micro-tearing or overstretching as a result of the specific stretching pictured above.

Which muscles are endangered by the other nishi-shiki exercises and the makko-ho?

Given the ongoing discussions regarding Internal Power and body structure, I think these are important issues to understand before we discard any body-conditioning that Osensei practised. Bear in mind that other martial arts that feature in these discussions also involve actions including stretching as part of their conditioning.

Kind regards
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