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Old 06-05-2012, 09:52 AM   #26
Keith Larman
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Simple words like "try" have different meaning for someone who experiences an occasional ache and pain, and someone who goes to bed at night not knowing if they'll be able to walk in the morning, or pick up a pencil, or stand upright. They can't help but be different. That's why for me, my enduring measure of success is that I keep training. It's a very personal measure, but then, aren't they all? And isn't that what Mary E was getting at in creating this thread?
What Mary said.

I can eat right, meditate, have all good thoughts, and adopt the best attitude possible about my structural problems. While all sorts of things certainly help on many levels, the underlying reality has this annoying habit of, well, not giving a rat's behind about all that. The spinal nerve roots being crushed simply keep on being crushed. Yeah, all sorts of ways of reducing inflammation (breakfast today was a veggie/fruit juice. Lunch will be mostly veggie juiced. Snacks will be lean proteins, mostly fish for the omega 3's, etc.). But these are all bandages on wounds that don't heal. A good friend of mine has long been crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. And honestly I look at him and realize how lucky I am that I'm still moving and not in his braced shoes. And he gets on with life, lives life, works hard, loves his wife, loves his family because in the end you're left with "well, this is the hand I've been dealt, time to get on with things." Inspirational to me.

And we have compared notes on people who like to offer up feel-good advice. I cannot count the number of things people have suggested I try for my back, many of which would aggravate it horribly. My friend and I agreed that mostly we smile when we hear this stuff because people simply do not know better. They don't understand. As Mary said, it's not a reality they get.

We all get old. We all get aches and pains. Hell, I get aches and pains too. But some conditions are different.

I used to give people advice about dealing with things like this. I probably received my share of polite smiles over the years. But once my spine started to show symptoms, well, I saw the other side of that coin. And I don't do that anymore.

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Old 06-05-2012, 09:53 AM   #27
Keith Larman
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Re: Measuring success

But to the OP, my measure of success is being able to walk upright in to my daughter's room each morning, waking her up with a smile without her immediately asking about my pain level because I look pained. Yeah, some mornings I'm in bed trying to figure out how to get up, hoping the meds will kick in and I can straighten up and won't look like Quasimodo all day. Hoping the pain will only be a dull pain. Hoping I won't have to kick in to the stronger stuff because that stuff leaves me fuzzy.

Aikido allows me to continue to move. Aikido gives me a greater connection to my body and as Chris said above, sometimes the structural problems I have actually inform me of connections. I can feel the connection from my fingertips all the way to my lower back. It's not always a happy feeling, but I can often feel how things connect up because when it starts to pull on certain parts, well, they let me know about it. So Aikido allows me to explore, move, and push myself, keeping myself as healthy as possible in that aspect. Success is continuing to train. Success is each new day. Success is each morning seeing that kid smile when I wake her up.

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Old 06-05-2012, 10:03 AM   #28
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

Great post, Keith.

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Old 06-05-2012, 12:03 PM   #29
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Re: Measuring success

Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:06 PM   #30
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.
Dan, thread drift is a given on aikiweb.... In rereading your post, I think it may have been more a matter of semantics and how you said what you did rather than the intended meaning, if that makes sense.

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Old 06-05-2012, 02:37 PM   #31
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
Agreed. Great post, Keith.

One way I do measure my own success is by being able to eat my own mistakes, and turn them into something positive.

Apologies all around if I derailed this thread from its intended purpose.
I think you did the opposite of a derail, actually. Look at the title of the thread -- "Measuring success". That's what we're talking about, and I think it's useful. I know that in the past, I've gotten stuck when I didn't perceive myself as making "progress" by some definition of the term, and failed to see the progress that I was making. So, "success" means different things, and our definition of success changes. And it's not just that our bodies eventually fall apart. Bodies falling apart is just one way in which things change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, and much of the time just...different.

My boss is a very interesting guy. He was considered something of a prodigy, went to medical school at a young age (people used to call him "Doogie"), got into his third year and...realized he didn't want to be a doctor. It happens that way sometimes. We look at a distant goal and think that's what "success" is, but as we get closer to it, we see things we didn't see before. Maybe it's different than we thought, maybe it's exactly the same but we understand it more, maybe we've changed, maybe all of the above. What do you do when you approach "success" and everything is telling you that this is not where you want to be, that this "success" is no longer a success for you?

My boss walked away. Took the hit, dealt with other people's anger and disappointment and disparagement and lack of understanding, started finding his way to where he should be. Today he's the co-owner of a small software company that is the best place I've ever worked. He is a great mentor and a great boss, the leader of a proud and happy company, and if you're more or less in the Boston area and looking for work as a software developer, give me a shout, because I might have a good place for you to work.

But I digress. I think the point that Mary E was trying to make when she started this thread is, success is where you find it. For myself, I'd add that when your definition of "success" changes, or when someone else's definition of "success" isn't what yours is, it's not necessarily a matter of settling for less. Rheumatoid arthritis took away my option of one type of goals (I will train x days a week, I will test for y rank, I will "master" such-and-such technique). It left me with one goal that I knew would remain within my grasp: to keep trying, to keep training, as best I could, and never mind how "good" that was. I met that goal and continue to meet it. Paradoxically, I think that in doing so, I've made more progress toward the other type of goals! I don't know, maybe this is one of those things that you have to let go of in order for it to come to you. But that's part of aikido, for us former karateka -- a constant exercise in keeping our hands open
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:23 PM   #32
ken king
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Re: Measuring success

Having recently started training at a new dojo, under a Sensei who does the same things completely different, I measure success in my ability to let go of what I knew and start over.
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Old 06-05-2012, 04:14 PM   #33
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Measuring success

I appreciate what I read. Thank you all.

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Old 06-05-2012, 05:19 PM   #34
David Orange
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
I used to give people advice about dealing with things like this. I probably received my share of polite smiles over the years. But once my spine started to show symptoms, well, I saw the other side of that coin. And I don't do that anymore.
Keith, have you tried Feldenkrais?

I was walking with a cane at age 38 in Japan. Couldn't lift my heel off the floor. Two sessions of Feldenkrais and I was walking easily without pain. Several more and I was back on the mat with the Japanese black belts.

After that, a lot of it is what not to do.

But a great start is some good Feldenkrais hands-on treatment and a lot of solo work with Feldenkrais methods.

If you haven't tried it yet, please do.

Best to you.

David

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

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 06-05-2012, 05:47 PM   #35
Keith Larman
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Re: Measuring success

Yes, I have. Enjoyed it. Was a good thing to do.

But the simple fact is that the hard stuff in my spine the nerves pass through are narrowing increasingly pressing on the nerve bundle. Good posture and movement is critical to reduce problems and of course makes a huge difference when you avoid doing things that aggravate the issue. But just like good body work on the surrounding tissues can help due to tightness and inflammation, the reality underlying it doesn't change. One day a doctor asked what I found could aggravate the area. I only partly jokingly said "being alive". I did learn to improve my posture. I did learn to carry myself better. But that's all more or less palliative rather than curative. Of course it matters as it helps you get out of the vicious circle of pain / inflammation / inflammation causing pain / carrying yourself differently causing more inflammation / rinse / lather / repeat.

Really at the current level of understanding of this the issue is learning to deal with it. Learning to protect things. Learning to take care of it. But the condition underlying it doesn't get better. At best it will stay the same. More likely it will continue to get worse. And most of the treatments if it gets worse are in some ways worse than the condition IMHO. So... You get angry. You feel old. You feel crippled. Then you pull on your hakama, get on the mat, and do what you can... Shrug.

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Old 06-05-2012, 07:33 PM   #36
Chris Parkerson
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Re: Measuring success

Kieth,

I have a form of arthritis in my low back as a result to trying to be physical in a frame that has not been built for it. Each year brings more pain and constriction. Diet helps some. Using muscle brings swelling and thus more arthritic pain.

Thus, some may say my art doesn't look like aikido anymore. But I say it is a creative use of Aikido principle made to work for Mr. McGoo.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:07 PM   #37
David Orange
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Yes, I have. Enjoyed it. Was a good thing to do.

But the simple fact is that the hard stuff in my spine the nerves pass through are narrowing increasingly pressing on the nerve bundle.
Yeah. That's beyond what Feldenkrais can help, I'm afraid.

Well, I hope you can have some relief.

Best wishes.

David

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

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:45 PM   #38
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Keith, have you tried Feldenkrais?
I was walking with a cane at age 38 in Japan. Couldn't lift my heel off the floor. Two sessions of Feldenkrais and I was walking easily without pain. Several more and I was back on the mat with the Japanese black belts.
Good outcome!
The weird thing about advice like this - and I mean NO disrespect or criticism specifically aimed at you, David, I'm just riffing off of it - is that it will be worthless for as many people as it is helpful and there is no way of knowing without trying. I know very good Feldenkrais practitioners. I just don't respond to that modality. The next guy will. I might respond really well to acupuncture, the next guy won't. Repeat for virtually any specific therapy....it's part of what makes it impossible for the average doctor to really go outside his familiar box of meds-PT-surgery (which all too often don't work either....) - there are so many potentially helpful things and no way to predict what will "click" for a given person...so we are each left to our own trial and error. And yes, following up on leads such as your's is helpful.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:47 PM   #39
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

I was about to write more but a lot of it will be in my June The Mirror column :-)
Yeah, for me success is getting to the dojo and being able to participate in an entire class (with my adaptations of pins and rolls) w/o sitting down to let the knee, neck, thumbs or wrist rest...

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:49 PM   #40
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
So... You get angry. You feel old. You feel crippled. Then you pull on your hakama, get on the mat, and do what you can... Shrug.
I got over the angry a long time ago. Getting over feeling second-rate or being embarrassed, that has taken much longer, Most days, am ok with it/me. Now and then, not.

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:48 AM   #41
davoravo
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Re: Measuring success

While searching for solutions to my (minor in comparison) back problems I came across this article. I appreciate the advice in this article only applies to those of us with osteoarthritic, ligament and/or tendon problems rather than the severe rheumatoid issues ME and KL are suffering from. I am posting it because it says some really interesting stuff about skill and effective movement from a Western physiologic/biomechanic point of view.

It also repeats what some posters have said above, that many prescribed exercises make things worse rather than better. This is the summarised wisdom of years of research and practical experience. On the downside it is also a little bit of an extened advert for his book.

Some interesting quotes

My physio gave me flexion stretching exercises for my back but ...

Quote:
For example, the flexion intolerant back is very common in todays society. Giving this type of client stretches such as pulling the knees to the chest may give the perception of relief (via the stimulation of erector spinae muscle stretch receptors) but this approach only guarantees more pain and stiffness the following day as the underlying tissues sustain more cumulative damage. ... Realize that the spine discs only have so many numbers of bends before they damage.
[The following is an exercise my physio taught me which turns out to be wrong. I am now trying to "brace" my abdomen whenever i lift a load.

Quote:
Do not perform abdominal hollowing techniques as it reduces the potential energy of the column causing it to fail at lower applied loads ... Adding the specific transverse abdominis [hollowing] training reduced efficacy! Instead, the abdominal brace (contracting all abdominal muscles) enhances stability.
Some stuff on abdominal muscles which may sound familiar

Quote:
The [rectus abdominus] muscle is not designed for optimal length change but rather to function as a spring. ...People rarely flex the rib cage to the pelvis shortening the rectus in sport or everyday activity. Rather they stiffen the wall and load the hips or shoulders -- if this is performed rapidly such as in a throw or movement direction change, the rectus functions as an elastic storage and recovery device.
some interesting stuff on effective motion.

Quote:
measuring the great athletes always shows that the power is generated in the hips and transmitted through the stiffened core.
and something that is possibly profound to finish

Quote:
Many train speed by using resistance exercise for strength gain. But speed usually requires superior relaxation .... Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. At the instant just before ball contact, the farthest ball hitters in the world then undergo a full body contraction which creates a superstiffness throughout the entire linkage. Then, just as quickly the stiffening contraction is released to allow compliance and speed in the swing follow through .....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly -- only a few in the world are able to do this.
So, my new measure of success is how quickly I can cycel from tense to relaxed.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf selecting_back_exercises.pdf (274.7 KB, 19 views)

David McNamara
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:32 AM   #42
tlk52
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Re: Measuring success

davoravo wrote "Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. ....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly -"

interesting, the tai chi teacher I'm studying (William c c Chen)with makes this point all the time. it's basic to his view of how to produce power in a strike.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:05 AM   #43
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Measuring success

For a couple of years we had a teenage girl that was training with us. She went to Europe as an exchange student for 4 months. Once when she was on a train, there was just one 30ish man in the car with her. As she got up to exit he came at her and tried to grab her arm. She placed her foot in his belly and pushed, her words "from her center." He went flying back and landed on his butt. She hopped off the train.

I think training in Aikido helped her have options she might not have had and that is a measure of success for all of us.

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Old 06-06-2012, 08:41 AM   #44
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Measuring success

Interesting you guys bring up feldenkrais. I just had my shoulder rebuilt and going to work with a friend here when she gets back from your Alexander Training Exam at the end of the month. I am looking forward to it.

That said, 2 weeks post op, things are going very well for me, and not sure at this point if there is anything that will really be helpful from Feldenkrais or AT with my shoulder given the fact that it seems to be going back to normal on it's own.

That said, absolutely, I believe there are conditions and situations where these things work well. My thoughts on it right now is correcting/reprogramming "bad habits" things that have been learned and burned in over time. Not sure how much this will apply to a rehab process with an acute injury.

I did work a small time with Paullina several years ago at an Aikido seminar on AT and actually felt the benefits of it for my back and felt that it was very applicable to the bad things I had learned or coping mechanisms I had adopted because of pain.

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Old 06-06-2012, 09:13 AM   #45
Janet Rosen
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
David McNamara wrote: View Post
While searching for solutions to my (minor in comparison) back problems I came across this article.
Great stuff - thanks for posting.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:34 AM   #46
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Re: Measuring success

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
davoravo wrote "Speed comes from compliance and relaxation. ....So the rate of muscle contraction is only important when the muscle can be released just as quickly -"

interesting, the tai chi teacher I'm studying (William c c Chen)with makes this point all the time. it's basic to his view of how to produce power in a strike.
That's interesting, Toby. I've been in Chen's studio in NYC. "Compliance" - that would be something like adherence to intrinsic structure. Alignment. In the universe there is physical structure and non-physical structure. So, the more we align with the already inherent structure that exists - the less resistance we produce, and the more power we allow.

We don't create power. The power already exists. We, through alignment and relaxation (non-resistance), allow the power to move through us.

All these (symbolic) words mean exactly the same thing: alignment, non-resistance, relaxation, compliance, power. ki, spirit, god, love.

That's why a lot of effective healing "systems" begin with very little to no physical movement. In fact, systems that work with movement too much early on - can create more damage than healing. Because, before we start physically moving - we need to align - get into the right place - mentally, emotionally. It is vital that we move from the "right place."

Tohei said it. "Find one point. Relax completely. Weight underside. Extended ki."

Jesus said: Forgive. Resist not evil.

Huna teaches the same thing. So does Abraham Hicks. So does aikido. It's what the IS guys are teaching. Systema...

The reason we don't relax is because we create the illusion that we are separate. As we relax into and comply with universal laws, our sense of self expands. As we relax, mentally, emotionally, and physically, we allow the ever-intrinsic power to flow through us. That is when the healing begins. We are already healed. We just have to realize that. Through, as Chen would say, compliance and relaxation.

Then the energy/power/love/ki flows through every fiber of our bodies - spiritual, mental, emotional, physical. Then we manifest into the physical, what Whitman calls, the body electric. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174740

The physical, when there are manifested problems/dis-eases, if often NOT the place to start or even where to put our attention. By relaxing and finding "one point" Tohei asks us to remove our attention from the physical. "Finding one point" is really more of a mental exercise. "Relax completely" mixes the mental with the emotional "Weight underside" mixes the mental, emotional and physical. Then, when ya got all that... from THAT place.... then you are asked to "extend ki." Then the lights turn on.

And that's why it's given in that specific order.
http://unofficial.ki-society.org/Four.html

Every healing/power system and teacher coming from a higher place of understanding says the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. They all agree. Every single one of 'em.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 06-06-2012 at 10:43 AM.
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