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Old 06-18-2010, 05:33 PM   #51
DH
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Re: Sensei and size

I still go at it freestyle in much tougher venues than aikido randori and for a hell of a lot longer than 5 minutes with strangers who want to prove me wrong and win, and I'm 54.
This is not a case of one upmanship, there is hope for better ways to train. Not all training ruins your body. And you do not have to lose power when you age like most folks. Some training actually heals it, while making you more powerful and flexible at the same time. Some AIkido teachers are walking that road right now, I am sure they will get back to you.
Since many of you have heard this all from me for the last fifteen years, I'll bow out.
All the best
Dan

Last edited by DH : 06-18-2010 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:59 PM   #52
Ellis Amdur
 
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Re: Sensei and size

I thought this thread was about me - that someone finally was expressing some empathy for the dilemma of people of healthy stature. For some reason, I have almost never found someone of normal healthy size in martial arts. They are all such little people. I sometimes think I've stepped in some kind of alternative reality, and all these little people are running around the mat, yelling, "Frodo, the ring! The ring! Throw it into the fire!"
Sometimes I'll take a jodan stance with a sword and they all run up on tip-toes, and start jumping up-and-down on their little feet, their swords waving around my waist, with their little kiai going peep, peep, peep. I sometimes think I should exchange my weapon for a weed-whacker, and be done with the whole lot of them.
And then they take it so personally, and in their little voices, pipe away - but the register is so high that I cannot really understand what they are saying. Something like, "No fair you being of normal size. What do I have to eat and drink to grow up healthy like you."
I can't help it - they trust me. I tell them that it's all about cholesterol, that they should eat things like foie gras, and salmon caviar, and large draughts of fine Calvados. Some of the little guys are getting liver problems, and I suppose I should feel bad, but then I think of the Randy Newman song and I feel O.K. after all.
Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 06-18-2010, 07:39 PM   #53
Dennis Hooker
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Re: Sensei and size

Oh Ellis my friend you are Jeff to my Mut but we click on the mat and then we Clark, Ledgerd(sp?) and Takahashi Senseis and we get the whole range. And short people are better than Randy said and short round people got more to give.

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Old 06-18-2010, 07:58 PM   #54
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Re: Sensei and size

There is a saying which I like...

"Never trust a skinny chef"

:-)

Though it doesn't apply in this case...

Last edited by patf : 06-18-2010 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:33 PM   #55
Toby Threadgill
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Re: Sensei and size

Hi,

I have a picture of me standing between Ellis Amdur and Tony Alvarez. At 6' 2" I still look rather hobbit like, but then again......

Life isn't always fair for the Frodo's or Treebeard's.

Last edited by Toby Threadgill : 06-18-2010 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 06-18-2010, 08:33 PM   #56
Howard Popkin
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Re: Sensei and size

Um...I don't know if you have seen Ledyard Sensei recently....byt he is half the guy he used to be....down almost 100 lbs !!!!!
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:40 PM   #57
Janet Rosen
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
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I do love you lady
Aw shucks, Dennis... the feeling is mutual.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:06 PM   #58
Dennis Hooker
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Re: Sensei and size

Me and my buddy George are getting back to our fighting weight
Man I remember the times we healed in a week and now it is a month or more. Nothing stops the ageing process no matter what anyone says

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Old 06-18-2010, 10:47 PM   #59
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Re: Sensei and size

This is all I have to say about this topic;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEbEMjKitA4
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:59 PM   #60
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Having read all the comments up to here, I feel the need to "weigh" in.

First, the OP commented on the great number of sensei who are clearly way over weight and way out of condition and that's where I think we should be focusing. Sure, some of us have had various injuries and we feel the effects of aging. I'm 54 (older than Dan by some months...which is why I'm not in as good condition as he ).
I had a back injury in Japan when I was about 37 years old that left me barely able to walk for several months, during which time I gained a good bit of weight. I came back from that and continued training. My weight has been up and down since then, but I've never been anything like 50 pounds overweight.

And you look at the major Japanese shihan and it's really rare to see one of them seriously pudgy. Someone mentioned Yamada Sensei and someone else said tell him he lacks discipline and someone else answered before I could that he knows where he stands. The great karate man, Fumio Demura, was pretty overweight for awhile and had a heart attack. He said something like "I just had to realize that I could eat pizza--just not the whole pizza!"

Back in 2000, I was in a distant city working with a neurologist who had trained in TKD with Joon Rhee. Every evening after work, he went to the gym and ran or lifted weights while I went to the hotel restaurant and had fried catfish and drank beer. One night the hotel manager mentioned this to me: "Dr. X is out there working out and here you are eating and drinking." There was nothing I could say, but soon after that I got the book "Body for Life" and lost about 35 pounds in short order. It was at the height of those benefits when I met my wife.

A few months after that, I got the news that Dr. X had dropped dead of a heart attack.

And who can forget Bruce Lee, dropping dead at age 32 with "the body of an 18 year old"?

But one of the most embarrassing aikido demos I ever witnessed was in about 1980, when a 6th dan American teacher who was well overweight almost passed out during a very light randori with his assistants: a woman and a much smaller man. The teacher had to stop and bend over and put his hands on his knees. He almost fell over. And then he said, "Sorry...we just drove in from X-town (two hour drive) and had a big lunch just before coming in here..." He would have been in his early fifties at the time---probably younger than I am now.

And the OP's original point seems to have been that there are just so many high level teachers like that these days. And seriously, you just don't see that in Japan. Kyoichi Murai (yoseikan 9th dan) was a tiny little fellow who was still taking sutemi throws from younger men when he was in his eighties, bouncing up and returning the favor, time after time. He had never stopped taking ukemi and could go through a regular class with the young black belts and men in their forties and hold his own quite well.

And then you look at William Gleason and you see a guy who still has it and is in excellent condition and while I don't know how much ukemi he does, I know he's still training hard and still learning.

Yes, there are those of us who have suffered injuries and illnesses of various kinds and I have lately learned (through reading about it, fortunately, and not through experience) of the devastating effects certain prescribed medications can have on weight and health, but as the original poster said, there are just so many aikido teachers (especially in the US) who are way out of shape. Most of those I've met were never hard workers and never suffered any really serious training injuries because they never trained hard enough to get injured significantly.

So while I won't paint all these teachers with the same broad brush (at least not without several very broad strokes ), I am convinced that most of this is a result from an American culture of general laziness and very bad foods (and too much of them, with too much booze). I met martial artists from around the world while in Japan and you just didn't see too many Europeans suffering that condition.

At 5'11" and 187 pounds (as of this morning), I don't have anything to brag about, but I do think this is an issue of serious importance for the American aikido world. We need to look at ourselves carefully and not make excuses for what we see. By being seriously out of condition and way overweight, we're not helping the art of aikido or its image.

Best to all in sincere efforts.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-19-2010, 09:01 AM   #61
James Davis
 
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Re: Sensei and size

I've seen some high ranking sensei who were pretty overweight at a seminar. Not only are these guys a few decades older than me, they've also some health issues they're dealing with that slow them down quite a bit. I'm not one to criticize another person, as I've been around long enough to realize that everyone is fighting his or her own battle in this life (and I'm fighting to lose weight myself). Those of us that do have the tendency to criticize others need to meet men and women like these sensei. When they pick up that cane to walk on their replaced hips or knees, it's a pretty effective reminder that these people have put it on the line for a long, long time. They've paid their dues, and we would most likely be nowhere in our training without them. If somebody's going to talk trash, I hope that they do so an inch or two out of reach of that cane, and out of my reach as well.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:47 AM   #62
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Sensei and size

Living in Japan, I've come to the conclusion that Americans are just big, period. It's always a shock when I go home and go from being "taller than average" to "kinda the short side of average". The Yagyukai recently had an overseas members seminar. I'm 5'10", 151 lbs -- here in Japan I'm considered a "big person", but every one of the folks who came to the seminar from America outweighed me, and just about everyone out-talled me, too. And these were people of all ages, from 26 to 58.

Americans are big, so most American aikido teachers will be big. Then, they get bigger as they get older, as everyone does. That's just the way it goes.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 06-19-2010, 02:59 PM   #63
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
... they get bigger as they get older, as everyone does. That's just the way it goes.
Well no. That's not just the way it goes. It's definitely not.

@ James:
It's not my intent to critizise.
I am just realy confused to hear that there seem to be a such lot of aikidoka with overweight in your world. I don't see them in mine.

I am confused because it seems to me, that overweight is kind of widely acceptedt in the world you live in?
This is not the case in mine.

For example:
Physicians here will assure you that you don't have to gain weigth when getting older.
And if you have to get a replacement of knee or hip the first thing you hear over here will be that you have to adjust you weight. Maybe you even won't get a replacement because of overweight.

And please:
Im not talking about gaining weight because of illness or medical treatment.
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Old 06-19-2010, 04:00 PM   #64
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
James Davis, Jr. wrote: View Post
...Those of us that do have the tendency to criticize others need to meet men and women like these sensei. When they pick up that cane to walk on their replaced hips or knees, it's a pretty effective reminder that these people have put it on the line for a long, long time. They've paid their dues, and we would most likely be nowhere in our training without them. If somebody's going to talk trash, I hope that they do so an inch or two out of reach of that cane, and out of my reach as well.
Sure. Those people aren't the ones being discussed here. The original question is "why so many in aikido" when you don't see so many (of the same age) in karate and judo. And why so many in America when you don't see it in Europe and Japan?

And in many cases, we're talking people in their forties and fifties who have had no major health issues other than Dunlap Disease.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

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Old 06-19-2010, 04:10 PM   #65
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

On the other hand, look at Wang Shu Jin and some other major Chinese martial artists--particularly tai chi men.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgSPsiQhAZk

A lot of those guys are literally obese.

But ask Ellis Amdur about Wang Shu Jin's power, skill and level of health.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-19-2010, 05:27 PM   #66
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
If you don't have any physical disabilities
...that's a temporary condition. Enjoy it while you got it, and prepare to eat humble pie.
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:44 PM   #67
Andrew Macdonald
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Re: Sensei and size

Wang shu Jin apperently had diabetes which accounted for his size

taiji does also have alot of very large high ranking teachers, not so much with the other 2 internal arts as much as i have seen
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:58 PM   #68
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Andrew Macdonald wrote: View Post
Wang shu Jin apperently had diabetes which accounted for his size

taiji does also have alot of very large high ranking teachers, not so much with the other 2 internal arts as much as i have seen
But you look at folks like Chen Xiao Wang and Chen Bing, even Cheng Man Ching (who drank like a winefish, they say) and they're all very fit in body mass (at least).

It does seem that the super-sized sensei, however, is especially apparent in American aikido masters...

Very interesting to hear that Ledyard Sensei has lost 100 pounds. Gives me hope to knock off fifteen more....

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.esotericorange.com
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:00 PM   #69
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Andrew Macdonald wrote: View Post
Wang shu Jin apperently had diabetes which accounted for his size

taiji does also have alot of very large high ranking teachers, not so much with the other 2 internal arts as much as i have seen
This isn't a big deal if you have tremendous skill...but then you run into someone with tremendous skill and great conditioning...and you've got trouble.

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-21-2010, 08:17 AM   #70
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
...that's a temporary condition. Enjoy it while you got it, and prepare to eat humble pie.
Which is why we should all just give up now right?

It's fairly obvious that people who keep themselves as healthy as possible when they are younger end up with less physical health issues when they are older.

Which is why I'm about to turn 30 without any back,knee, hip issues. And my fat ass mcdonald's eating friends all can't go for a run with me or lift weights because of their bad backs and knees.

Maybe not carrying around an extra 100 pounds would help prevent back and knee issues. It's just a thought....

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:49 AM   #71
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Sensei and size

Not carrying an extra hundred pounds would definitely help the knees but then so would have not allowing that 4 year old stallion to pile drive me into the ground, knees first, when I was 21. Life happens man, and attitudes like that are far from encouraging to someone who is trying their best to live a healthy life and just not having the easiest time of it. Don't judge until you know the entire story. Most people who have weight issues and are still willing to work out are trying their best despite any number of issues that you simply have no idea are going on.

Funny. I'm quite over weight, (down 80 and looking to loose another 80) have bad knees and asthma and I still frequently manage to be the only person still on my feet and training at the end of two hours of very active aikido... And I've got about 20 years on some of the very active young fellows I train with.
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:54 AM   #72
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
It's fairly obvious that people who keep themselves as healthy as possible when they are younger end up with less physical health issues when they are older.
Reminds me of Alex Marshall Sensei, in Birmingham, Alabama, who was about 71 when I met him, fit as a fiddle and strung like a bow. Not an ounce of fat on him and the police sent him into bad areas to let muggers jump him.

At the same time, I knew black belts half his age who were carrying half his weight on top of their own healthy weight. And most of these were in aikido. I didn't know a single karate man or Chinese stylist in such bad condition. It seems that the attitude among the aikidoists was that since you don't have to work hard to do aikido technique, you could just chunk physical conditioning out the window.

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
Which is why I'm about to turn 30 without any back,knee, hip issues. And my fat ass mcdonald's eating friends all can't go for a run with me or lift weights because of their bad backs and knees.

Maybe not carrying around an extra 100 pounds would help prevent back and knee issues. It's just a thought....
There's no question that controlling one's weight is the number one key to long health (unavoidable diseases not being in this equation). The conversation has been drawn toward those with serious diseases not related to food. Things like Myasthenia Gravis and Multiple Sclerosis cannot be prevented or cured by diet and the medications can cause extreme weight gain. But the fact is, most common diseases are directly related to overeating and just bad eating and most Americans suffer to some degree from that. And that is really nothing but lack of self control. Even though I don't train anywhere near the intensity I used to, my health has gone on as if shot from a bow and the momentum of my early days (up until I was 40) has carried me on and kept me in pretty good shape, thank the Lord.

Best to all.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-21-2010, 08:59 AM   #73
David Orange
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Life happens man, and attitudes like that are far from encouraging to someone who is trying their best to live a healthy life and just not having the easiest time of it. Don't judge until you know the entire story.
Sure, people with serious diseases and injuries are going to have problems, but the question is why so many American aikido masters are so fat and why you don't see so many fat karate men. And why so many obese American aikidoists and so few fat European aikidoists?

Sounds like you're doing pretty well and working out really hard, but it will always remain true that you can control weight better by what you eat than by how hard you work out. And the better the eating, the easier the working will be.

Good luck and best wishes.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-21-2010, 09:02 AM   #74
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Re: Sensei and size

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
Which is why we should all just give up now right?
Oh yes, Don, that's exactly what I did, give up. I've got rheumatoid arthritis and I train. I've trained with pain that you can't imagine. And guess what, it's not always possible to just tell yourself all that eat-your-wheaties propaganda and wish away the fact that your body just won't work today. Don't you even talk to me on the subject of "giving up" -- not until your healthy not-even-30 self has paid some dues.
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:14 AM   #75
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Re: Sensei and size

Excessive fat is bad….period. A Shihan is a role model and should keep in peak condition barring any chronic illness or major injury. This is not just an aikido thing; it’s a quality of life thing. Throwing your fat around is not (imho) ‘aiki’. Moving efficiently is of course the goal but then you have to do other things to push yourself and maintain a high level of fitness. Making excuses for being fat is weak.
Short or tall you have very little choice in. Putting on pounds through lack of discipline is a choice.
We can acknowledge the contributions someone has made to aikido and still acknowledge that they are fat or out of shape. This is a bigger than fat issue in aikido. We need to stop making excuse for ‘behaviors’.
Even if you are not overweight, you still may not be in good condition. It bugs me big time when people talk on the mat because they want to ‘buy’ time. I’d rather they bow off the mat and let the others continue to train.
There are more than a few instructors at 40 plus yrs in martial arts still taking ukemi and sweating on the mat. The ones I know or have seen are in good condition for their age and then some. I think there is a correlation. You have to keep moving, staying active.
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