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Old 12-08-2016, 11:14 AM   #1
langenoir
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How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Sensei said the other night, "the irony of shikko is that by the time you get really good at it, your knees will probably be shot." I know he was partly joking but it made me think, what should I be doing to protect myself? I remember at my last dojo seeing some students wearing knee braces, knee pads, wrapping their joints.

Other than doing the techniques right what are some things that I should be doing to protect my joints so that I can keep doing Aikido for years to come?
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:20 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

From the aikinurse:
1. Over the counter knee "braces" are basically providing gentle compression and warmth. They feel good. They will not reduce the risk or severity of a major injury (such as ACL or meniscus tear).
2. When doing shikko, purchased pads (or adding nice layers of quilting to the inside of your dogi pants) will nicely pad your patella and upper shin, making for less direct pressure and easier pivoting when doing suwariwaza techniques.
3. I haven't done suwariwaza in years (blown ACL>graft, blown meniscus>traumatic arthritis) but can do a few "steps" of shiko forward and back to demo it to newbies. Many students are taught to sort of step out with the foot and move forward to shift wt onto the knee, but I leave both feet totally under my butt at all times and move my body as a unit. Much easier.

Suggest:
Learning body awareness so you can identify and stay in good structure, hence keep things in alignment in movement and in various ending positions.
Make sure muscles that support posture and the large joints are strong, so they can protect better. Not just quads and hamstrings, but the small muscles along the spine and the lower edge of the shoulder blades, and the core. Learn to identify and use the latissimus dorsi to initiate upper extremity movement (being taught things like "weight underside" while "extending ki" or "let your pointed finger rise up and out" should eventually lead to this but Pilates teaches it very explicitly and more quickly as well as working the core),

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-08-2016, 06:45 PM   #3
rugwithlegs
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

There is a paper that went back over old Japanese art, sculpture, and samurai images, and noted seiza actually was not appearing exclusively.

Samurai armour has suneate - look them up, and you'll see no OTC knee brace offers anywhere near the protection.

I have been told that all Aikido pins are done kneeling (both knees down), and that this is traditional. It is not true of Sensei's teaching, it is not true to watch a Daito Ryu video of Kondo, nor Tomiki style Koryu no Kata, nor Judo kata, nor Yoshinkan forms. I do not know when this started, but I see far more variety in the older lineages.

As a student, I just did the training. Now, I cannot run and I've had multiple knee surgeries. If I knew the healthiest way to teach this, I would be healthy. I don't want to start a new generation of forty year olds that are aged before their time. I have been told the best martial response is to run away - So stay healthy enough that you can run! My knee problems started with an arthritic big toe joint that led to unstable lateral knee movements and torsion.

I think this is a practice that offers some benefits, but I need to be more clear on what they are and how to specifically attain those goals. There is, I think, a point of dismissing returns. I think part of the point is that you will have less stride and will be less mobile, so don't try to be as agile as you are on your feet - especially when you are learning, you'll be tempted to step to less stable extremes.

Don't train it too much. Do train suwari waza regularly, maybe once a week, and only for five to ten minutes on the classical forms.

The worst is to be not ready for an exam so you do a marathon session of something you haven't built up to and don't know how to do well or safely. So, start slow and brief. Train to feel stable and solid all throughout the movement.
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Old 12-26-2016, 05:01 PM   #4
tarik
 
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Posture and alignment.

Many people I watch getting up from ukemi put signficant unnecessary stress on their knee joints because of where they put their weight, how they line up their ankles, knees, hips, and torso when rising and lowering their body. Lots of leaning and torsion and stress placed upon the angles of the knee joints when it's not necessary.

Years of this kind of movement destroys knees.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 12-27-2016, 06:58 AM   #5
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Many people I watch getting up from ukemi put signficant unnecessary stress on their knee joints because of where they put their weight, how they line up their ankles, knees, hips, and torso when rising and lowering their body. Lots of leaning and torsion and stress placed upon the angles of the knee joints when it's not necessary.
Have to totally agree here.
Structural alignment in all you do.
Solo training.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 12-27-2016, 10:41 AM   #6
erikmenzel
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

In all you do protect your joints.
Like Tarik and Lynn already pointed out, it is the small abuse that is gonna add up over the years.

My right knee is completely ruined. This makes me very conscious about how I move.
My biggest amazement isn't about people doing suwari waza wrong, but is about how many little things people do to abuse their knees.

Irimi-tenkan is the first that pops into my mind. Step, pivot on front foot.
Lowering your body by extending 1 or 2 knees beyond your toes.
Having your foot aligned differently then your knee.

I try to teach people to be careful with their knees, but the very young do not always do as they are told.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 12-27-2016, 11:32 AM   #7
tarik
 
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

As a simple example, how often do you see someone stand up single weighted with all their weight stressing a single knee that may or may not be in alignment with their ankle, hips, and belly? When they don't need to do so?

I see it pretty much from pretty much every person who doesn't have a knee injury already except for a few who already understand something about posture.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 12-27-2016, 12:34 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Erik Jurrien Menzel wrote: View Post
Irimi-tenkan is the first that pops into my mind. Step, pivot on front foot.
When I teach irimi-tenkan, I don't teach it that way.
Because of my work with non-aikidoka seniors, I now teach it to everybody slowly as step forward, shift weight to find balance point between the feet, pivot in whatever weighting feels right to you , slide the foot now in the front to the back.
Then start smoothing out the pivot and slide back.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-27-2016, 03:34 PM   #9
rugwithlegs
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

I would add that tenkai, tenkan and irimi-tenkan are often aimed at 180 degree movements. I do see people forcing, twisting, and over- rotating that last little bit to accomplish that 180 regardless of how far their body can comfortably turn or even where uke is off balance. I find when I feel for uke's balance instead, 180 is not always required. Nothing wrong with two clean, lesser angle strides either.

Yoshimitsu Yamada is often demonstrating 45 or 90 degrees, and other groups do this as well.
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Old 12-28-2016, 01:05 PM   #10
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
When I teach irimi-tenkan, I don't teach it that way.
Because of my work with non-aikidoka seniors, I now teach it to everybody slowly as step forward, shift weight to find balance point between the feet, pivot in whatever weighting feels right to you , slide the foot now in the front to the back.
Then start smoothing out the pivot and slide back.
Ah, but I believe that you are teaching people in a non-martial context how to move in a way that helps to minimize balance loss and avoid falling. It has a different purpose.

In the martial sense, I want my entire step to be a fall (drop) to that new point in space shifting my weight entirely and I want my foot to land already turned and aligned to my target position, including my knee, hip, and the rest of my body, so that my knee is not out of alignment. The recovery portion of the step brings the other knee into correct alignment and any remaining weight to balance between both feet.

Martially, I try to avoid pivots, although kote mawashi could be characterized as a "pivot", I tend to disagree because the points of rotation are upon both feet, not a single foot. A pivot, by definition, has a single point of rotation.

Best,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:32 AM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Ah, but I believe that you are teaching people in a non-martial context how to move in a way that helps to minimize balance loss and avoid falling. It has a different purpose.

In the martial sense, I want my entire step to be a fall (drop) to that new point in space shifting my weight entirely and I want my foot to land already turned and aligned to my target position, including my knee, hip, and the rest of my body, so that my knee is not out of alignment. The recovery portion of the step brings the other knee into correct alignment and any remaining weight to balance between both feet.

Martially, I try to avoid pivots, although kote mawashi could be characterized as a "pivot", I tend to disagree because the points of rotation are upon both feet, not a single foot. A pivot, by definition, has a single point of rotation.

Best,
Actually, it's how I have been doing it for years in order to maintain my structure properly (then slowed and parsed down in order to teach it to seniors...and is taken directly from standard tai chi stepping or sliding and weighting so I believe it is martially sound while different from yours (I don't use a model of stepping or walking as a fall or drop). It's also possible than in practice what we are doing looks and feels the same, because: words.

Janet Rosen
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:58 AM   #12
shuckser
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

It sounds to me like Janet and Tarik's methods are two parts of the same thing. Janet's focus on a weight-shifting Henka after Irimi is a nice way to isolate and carefully control the pivoting movement without a partner. Tarik's focus on aligning the body towards a partner before the full weight is committed on the pivoting foot is an application of the same.
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Old 12-30-2016, 07:13 PM   #13
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Phil Johnston wrote: View Post
Sensei said the other night, "the irony of shikko is that by the time you get really good at it, your knees will probably be shot." I know he was partly joking but it made me think, what should I be doing to protect myself? I remember at my last dojo seeing some students wearing knee braces, knee pads, wrapping their joints.

Other than doing the techniques right what are some things that I should be doing to protect my joints so that I can keep doing Aikido for years to come?
Eat healthy the majority of the time. Rest and recoup when you really need to. Lift weights - exercises like squats and deadlifts, to help correct muscle viruses created from repetitious movements in aikido class. Also strengthens the muscles around those joints, teaches the body to work in unison, and promotes flexibility. Stay away from exercises that isolate and stress individual joints, like leg extensions.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:31 PM   #14
rugwithlegs
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Ah, but I believe that you are teaching people in a non-martial context how to move in a way that helps to minimize balance loss and avoid falling. It has a different purpose.
I enjoy a good martial practice, and I run a class with oncology patients.

I agree the two ideas are apart, but it drives me up the wall to see a QiGong person who teaches ergonomically poor movements that violate most principles of kinesiology as they are teaching "for health." The little bits of damage do add up. I also see martial artists that in the name training for "combat effectiveness" are forty year old cripples who couldn't run away or fight off an attacker with reliable effectiveness because of their litany of chronic injuries.

I bring more of a martial principle to what I teach cancer patients than I ever meant to. I will say this came from how to hit someone harder, but this is also how to open a heavy door, pick up the grandchildren, carry your groceries, and maybe make it less painful, less difficult. Good Martial ideas are derived from good ergonomic structure, stability, and functional strength. Or, at least I think they should be related.

The drop step I think sounds like how I learned to move for xing yi, very good for throwing the whole body power at one point. It is a useful tool, but not less martial than Bagua stepping that is always back weighted with power always in reserve and moving. The back weighted stepping is more like how I walk on ice or a slippery floor and it is the least challenging to teach.

Last edited by rugwithlegs : 12-31-2016 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:47 PM   #15
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
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Eat healthy the majority of the time. Rest and recoup when you really need to. Lift weights - exercises like squats and deadlifts, to help correct muscle viruses created from repetitious movements in aikido class. Also strengthens the muscles around those joints, teaches the body to work in unison, and promotes flexibility. Stay away from exercises that isolate and stress individual joints, like leg extensions.
And a lot of stretching.

Chris Sawyer
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:29 AM   #16
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

We don't do shikko any more...have not for years.

My knees are fine. They got sore when I was carrying extra weight but since I lost 50 pounds I take ukemi all the time and my knees and hips are good. We also do not do high falls in our style of aikido.

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Old 01-04-2017, 11:03 AM   #17
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

I am not convinced suwariwaza or shikko are responsible for chronic bad knees - very few dojo really do that much of it. I do see bad alignment and torquing in standing waza that has (will) lead to trouble.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 01-04-2017, 12:22 PM   #18
Janet Rosen
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

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I am not convinced suwariwaza or shikko are responsible for chronic bad knees - very few dojo really do that much of it. I do see bad alignment and torquing in standing waza that has (will) lead to trouble.
I tend to agree. Now and then a person will have a meniscal tear related to either suwariwaza or simply getting up, but it is impossible to do a risk assessment on this ahead of time. But the torquing and alignment is where menisci and ligaments get overstressed or torn and where terminal cartilage gets worn down the most.

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Old 01-04-2017, 06:05 PM   #19
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Eat healthy the majority of the time. Rest and recoup when you really need to. Lift weights - exercises like squats and deadlifts, to help correct muscle viruses created from repetitious movements in aikido class. Also strengthens the muscles around those joints, teaches the body to work in unison, and promotes flexibility. Stay away from exercises that isolate and stress individual joints, like leg extensions.
I'm new to Aikido but the above advice has worked for me - eating a reasonably healthy diet, exercise, etc.

I suffered sprained ACL in the knee years ago when I was taking Brazilian Jujutsu class. I was sparring with a big-muscled guy who got out of my guard by forcibly pushing down on my leg.

After my knee healed up, I got into doing barbell deadlifts and various squatting movements (two-legged squats with and without kettlebells, pistol squat, etc.). My knee has held up fine over the years, even after I went on to study other martial arts after BJJ. What has also helped was never being asked by any of my MA teachers to do movements or otherwise stand in positions unhealthy for the knees.

I also agree about stretching the muscles around the knee after vigorous activity - the quads and the hamstrings. I have found that sitting in seiza has been sufficient for quad stretches, most of the time. The only other thing I've had to do is a variation of the lunge stretch in which I grasp my rear foot - the hip flexors are still the mainly targeted muscles in this stretch but the quads get some stretch too.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:09 PM   #20
rugwithlegs
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Re: How do you take care of your knees and joints?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
I am not convinced suwariwaza or shikko are responsible for chronic bad knees - very few dojo really do that much of it. I do see bad alignment and torquing in standing waza that has (will) lead to trouble.
I do think it depends on the approach. For example, in some groups the students come in, no matter how cold the joints are, no matter how stiff, and they are expected to arrive early to drop in seiza cold for several minutes until the class bows in. It is expected that the instructor need not participate in the seiza portion at the beginning, and of course they don't need to return again in seiza when teaching. As it is so exotic, the less time the instructor practices suwariwaza, then the less time the students spent learning to do it well.

I did have to learn nine suwari waza kata for fifth kyu; I seldom see that anymore.

I went to a seminar where the first 20 minutes where spent sitting in seiza meditating (this was announced after already sitting for several minutes) - it felt more like a competition rather than meditation, and the instructor who ordered this done left his student to lead the class while he was walking around elsewhere. This is not standard in all dojo; I was surprised at how little time I spent in seiza at the only shodokan seminar I ever went to.

Seiza and shikko can be healthful when worked up to, and it has necessary lessons about whole body movement and structure. I find the teachers who do suwariwaza regularly do it sparingly.
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