Re: Teaching injured or elderly students? Is Aikido for everyone?
In the last year we've had folks come to the mat with the following: Colostomy, artificial leg below the knee, damaged knees, multiple spinal injuries and surgeries, general poor health, chronic pain and other issues. They come with a great spirit and leave with a strengthened one even if it has increased their discomfort. Teaching them is an opportunity to better our aikido technically and extend the spirit of Aikido in the community. Our bodies were made to move, not be still. Anyone can toss people around. Some Sensei's go a whole career and never have the blessing of teaching those with limitations. We had a teen last year who insisted on training with his leg in a hard cast so we all accommodated and learned!When applying a pin or joint technique to new folks I don't always wait for them to tap. I can see when 'enough is enough' that is my responsibility. A lot of people will push harder than they should. We have the responsibility of knowing when to stop and when to go up a little. For folks who can't take rolls or get up and down a lot we will only 'take balance.' It is an 'aiki' opportunity to work with damaged/injured students on the mat without causing injury and without being over protective. They are there to learn Aikido, to move their bodies and they know it may be uncomfortable for a short time. Listen to their bodies talk, watch their eyes and face for signs of when 'enough is enough' but don't coddle them. That isn't what they came to the dojo for. Should most people over 50ish take a whole class of 'high-falls' probably not. Shikko and seiza are specific challenges for knee and hip injuries.