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Old 02-04-2003, 09:25 PM   #8
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
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I have to disagree to some extent with Peter's assessment. Anyone who is serious about just about any other sporting activity in the world other than select martial arts does not simply rely on the activity itself to impart fitness. Look at any pro, farm-league, aspiring amateur, college, or even high school athletes in any sport and you will find that they all engage in supplemental training to improve various aspects of their conditioning.

Generally, it is useful to distinguish between General Physical Preparation (GPP) and Specific Physical Preparation (SPP).

GPP is about developing some basic strength in major movement chains, increasing endurance attributes, building muscle mass, strengthening connective tissues, bones, etc... In general, it's about developing a fit, athletic, injury resistant body.

The problem with many Aikidoka is that they are deficient in GPP, as they have not been fit, active, and engaged in regular sports and recreation continuously since childhood. If you can't get through a few classes per week without battling chronic injury, or getting through a class is more about gasping and keeping up than working on skill development, you are probably deficient in GPP. Some people (like me) are (were) so deficient, that they need to take some time away from Aikido to work on it. If they don't, they can look forward to ongoing battles with chronic pain and maybe even debilitating career-shortening injury problems as weak links accumulate damage.

The idea of taking time to build up your raw materials before setting them to work seems weird to us, because we worship at the alter of immediate gratification, but in the old Soviet system they routinely trained athletes of all kinds in GPP for years before introducing any skill practice or even skill-specific training - one of the reasons that they were 20 years ahead of the US for decades in terms of training techniques and science.

SPP, on the other hand, is about developing and refining conditioning attributes that are specifically applicable to the performance of the given athletic skill. The skills of Aikido are so unique and varied, that I think there isn't a lot that can be done in terms of SPP. A few things like resisted tenkan exercises, select medicine ball work, and work on shoulder stability might qualify.

In my view, for those who need it, good GPP for Aikido consists of consistent, productive work with moderate duration aerobics, intense interval training, and resistance training in bodyweight and compound movements like pullups, body rows, overhead press, pushups, dips, squats, romanian deadlifts.

Olympic lifts would probably be more on the SPP side, and more questionable in relevance. On the one hand, they help to develop the general attributes of speed, power, explosiveness, and overall body coordination. On the other hand, all the force is generated vertically in moves that are starkly dissimilar to any which require explosiveness and speed in Aikido practice. Personally, I think twisting med ball moves and lunging and horizontally-oriented plyometrics would probably serve the purpose better.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 02-04-2003 at 09:29 PM.
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