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Old 01-02-2017, 10:14 AM   #1
fatebass21
 
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Aikido and Health

I have been thinking about this for quite a while now and I am very interested in how Aikido training effects the overall function of the body and it's health.

Health being a combination of factors (the biopsychosocial model of health/wellbeing), how has Aikido enhanced your health from a physical, mental, or social standpoint?

Additionally, I am very interested in specific experiences of using Aikido to manage previous injury and it's therapeutic properties if any.

Chris Sawyer
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Old 01-02-2017, 10:49 AM   #2
erikmenzel
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Re: Aikido and Health

Aikido has an effect on your well being on different levels.
For some people the most obvious one is that it is a form of physical exercise.

For me the benefits in Aikido however aren't just the obvious physical effects. For me connecting with other, being aware of what happens (both to myself as to my surroundings) makes me aware of how I am and what I need to pay attention to.

I know this sounds cryptic but it is hard to explain. I will try to explain. In 2000 I became seriously ill, and while it could not be proven to be a result of anti malaria medication my doctors and I believe it to be a mild form of brain damage due to the use of Lariam. It took me several years to recover, however with some permanent effects.

During my recovery training aikido kept me sane. Knowing there is a place where you can go and where you are welcome unconditionally can be very important. Doing the exercises and the techniques helped me stay in touch with my surrounding and my body. It is so easy to get locked into your head and wither.

My aikido is based around the idea that I have to feel what is going on. To extend myself and connect to things around me. I believe you have to be able to feel yourself to be able to feel others, and it is the necessity to feel myself that kept me centered while recovering.

Nowadays I am sure that the combination of medication and self awareness are the key factors for me being able to function on such a level that other people are oblivious to my constant headaches.

Aikido is not just a sport for me, aikido is a way of life, a way to be myself and a way to keep control of my well being by arming me against self pity and self loathing.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 01-02-2017, 01:28 PM   #3
rugwithlegs
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Re: Aikido and Health

http://john-hillson.blogspot.com/201...should-be.html

The Guidelines for practice certainly encourage health, and I do believe Aikido Can be healthy to practice - but without some vigilance, examination, reflection, and evaluation some practices can certainly cause injuries through excessive repetition or when performed by students who did not have sufficient preliminary training.

Most of the articles I found of older practitioners seemed to be from Yoshinkan or Ki Society, but Shodokan's practices look like they would be health promoting as well. Saito worked well with his weapons work long after empty hand looked less comfortable for him. (Yes, as an Aikikai student, I have not emphatically endorsed Aikikai as a healthy method as it was taught to me).

Unlike some other arts that have been subjected to kinesthiology studies, variations in teaching methods and practices in Aikido seem related to loyalty to a lineage. As lineages don't change, how do we improve on the practices in any dimension (the Guidelines call for us to have aikido be highly martial, highly creative, health promoting, and spiritually enlightening - it is sometimes difficult to move in any one direction without challenging another criteria.). As a larger art, we do not have basics or language in common and there is no clear central authority. Many various camps are not working to share insights and discoveries with each other, forums like this being the exception.

Stanley Pranin has many other articles on Aikido for health that I did not reference above.

What we are, what we can be, and what we should be (especially if Aikido is to be promoted as a CAM therapy) is still in flux for our young art.
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:00 PM   #4
fatebass21
 
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Re: Aikido and Health

Thanks for the comments Erik and John I appreciate it.

I think that all aikidoka have experienced enhancements in some if not all of these areas (biopsychosocial) as a result of training. I myself have experienced the aspects related to psychological and social wellbeing but I find myself becoming more and more interested in the biological/physical health aspects where Aikido as an art can enhance physical abilities (John you mentioned studies in Kinesiology so I guess that is a good description of what I am getting at).

At the current time I am hoping training will help with the management of physical conditions that I myself have and allow me to have less pain and more flexibility.

Any additional information on studies on the physical side (kinesiology, studies related to pathophysio - Erik perhaps what you were telling us about your experience) would be greatly appreciated.

Chris Sawyer
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Old 01-03-2017, 07:23 PM   #5
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido and Health

Quote:
Chris Sawyer wrote: View Post
I have been thinking about this for quite a while now and I am very interested in how Aikido training effects the overall function of the body and it's health.

Health being a combination of factors (the biopsychosocial model of health/wellbeing), how has Aikido enhanced your health from a physical, mental, or social standpoint?

Additionally, I am very interested in specific experiences of using Aikido to manage previous injury and it's therapeutic properties if any.
Hello,

I see from your profile that you are 33 years of age, but you have not stated anywhere how long you have been pursuing the art so far. I began when I was 25 and am still practicing at the age of 72, but I am far less inclined than I was to promote aikido as an art that improves health or 'realizes your potential', whatever this means.

As an art I think aikido is quite sophisticated, and this implies for me that training must be undertaken very carefully. One basis for this thinking is that all all the injuries I have sustained -- and which now affect how I live my life -- have been sustained during aikido practice. And I state this as someone who spent twenty years involved in the supplementary practice of long-distance running. The university where I was an undergraduate student was situated in the English countryside and the low hills and dales, well off the beaten track, formed a very good location for marathon running. I continued this practice as a graduate student the US and UK, but running along the banks of the Charles river in Cambridge or around Richmond Park in London was not quite the same, for both were very flat locations.

When I was at school, I was not a good athlete and so I decided to become fit. Aikido was presented by my first teacher as a very effective means to this end -- and it clearly worked. This teacher was a young Japanese and after he returned home I had to find another. In fact all my teachers have been direct students of Morihei Ueshiba, but were quite different in the way they presented the art. All were young when they started and all followed the usual regime of Japanese university sporting practice, with many stamina and stretching exercises -- and plenty of running. A few even lifted weights, which is what I also did when I was in the US.

One of the major problems that I discovered when I was a young white belt and after I began the journey through the Aikikai dan ranking system, was the total lack of training etiquette in most dojos. I think the worst offender here is the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan and this belies the constant claims made here about the spiritual nature of the art. People are simply not taught sufficiently to be careful where and how they project their partners and also how to take ukemi in such a way that they can avoid hitting others when they land. I have seen this lack of manners many times in all the countries where I have trained, but especially here in Japan.

Now I am a chief instructor and instruct in two local dojos, but I am very careful in my choice of ukes when I teach the art. They tend to be young males, with a relatively flexible body structure. The fact that they tend to be male is not intended to be sexist, but is an acknowledgement of of the undoubted fact that in Japan, with some exceptions, the martial arts still tend to be seen as a male activity. (The exception is naginata, and when I practiced this art, I was regarded as an oddity, since I was male and a foreigner to boot.)

My own dojos set out to be different, since I run both with husband-and-wife colleagues and minimize as much as possible the cultural consequences of physical differences. Both are 'general' dojos, in the sense that they are not attached to companies or academic institutions and the vast majority of the members are ordinary Japanese, with an age range from preteens to retired.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-03-2017 at 07:32 PM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 01-04-2017, 10:24 AM   #6
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Aikido and Health

Thanks for the topic.

Picking up on where Peter seemed to heading I will chime in that I have only been injured once while on the mat. That was by the head of the organization we belonged to at the time. He continued to put in nikkyo long after I had slapped out and had indeed smacked him to make him stop. He left an impressionism of soreness for several weeks.

One time when Ron and I were out riding bikes in the cemetery he fell off his bike after I unexpectedly cut in front of him....he ran several short steps and then did a front roll which prevented him from slamming his head and shoulder into a gravestone. It was terrifying to watch but his aikido practice helped him avoid a serious injury.

On another note I notice when other folks seem to get very sick from colds or the flu. Ron and I either avoid symptoms all together or have milder symptoms than I see in others. We almost never have colds and usually have a sense of well being. We both still uke regularly which I think helps illness leave the body.

I think the regular exchange of energy in the dojo boosts the immune system and promotes good health. We both enjoy other forms of exercise everyday, and are very healthy for 69 and 59 years of age. Ron has been training for 40 years and I have been training for 30.

Peter's idea about safety in the dojo is very important and we stress it at our dojo all the time.

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Old 01-05-2017, 03:12 AM   #7
MrIggy
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Re: Aikido and Health

I would suggest getting in touch with someone who does Ki no Renma, as developed by Sensei Hiroshi Tada.
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Old 02-19-2017, 07:39 AM   #8
fatebass21
 
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Re: Aikido and Health

Thank you Peter, Mary, and Igor for the responses.

Peter, to your question I have not had what I would call a consistent training experience in that I studied for 2 years when I was in my early 20s and stopped at the direction of a physician due to a curvature of my spine. Over the last 10 years I have incorporated the various aiki taiso exercises done during class into any physical conditioning/training I may have been doing (during this time I did focus on running; specifically 1/2 marathons and even became a certified distance coach). So in a sense I always did solo training at home (does this count? perhaps not).

At any rate I returned in early 2015 having moved back in area and did not 'ramp up my training'; going to fast to quick...pulled a groin/psoas muscle and had to take a few months with a physical therapist. Then had a son which kept me busy to say the least and now a daughter is coming within the next 4 weeks.

Now I am starting to ramble so I will sum it up with regard to the title of this thread...

Aikido and running have been the only things that make me 'feel right' when considering pain from muscle imbalances resulting from an S-shaped spinal curvature; most of these are at my hips. Western medicine has historically never been 'good' at addressing chronic issues such as these (80% of adults in the US suffer from back pain) and our immediate 'fix' is to take a pill. In my experience medications don't work, chiropractics and traction/manipulation techniques do not work, and most physicians typically do not follow through on their addressing of chronic issues rather than referring the problem to someone else.

I have seen many instances/posts in the forums here about those who have suffered injuries even more sever such as strokes or acute spinal injury and have used Aikido as a way to come back from them.

Last edited by fatebass21 : 02-19-2017 at 07:39 AM. Reason: correction

Chris Sawyer
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Old 02-19-2017, 08:50 AM   #9
leonagastya
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Re: Aikido and Health

Hello,

So from what I can see, everyone in this thread is an experienced aikidoka with years of experience under their belt. I on the other hand only joined Aikido for 5 months so far, yet I will try to answer your question the best I can from my limited experiences.

Even with my limited experience, Aikido has helped me gain a new perspective in life. In the dojo I seemed to be an entirely different person than my usual self. I'm more confident in my personal skills since now I can confront my opponents attack or do a technique without hesitation. So for once in my life I'm actually complimenting myself for what I have accomplished so far in the dojo and this has helped my self-esteem.

I feel more connected with myself and the people around me as my dojo is filled with people who are kind to me and push me to be better. Even if there is a language barrier between me and my fellow aikidoka (I'm not good at speaking my mother tongue) there is this certain bond that I have with all of them. And this again is unusual as I am usually anti-social and hate interacting with new people. In fact, the reason why I'm here in the forum in the first place is so I can interact with the AIkido community.

Aikido has also helped me become more relaxed as I feel more in tune with the environment around me. This might be because of the meditation and breathing exercises that we do in class. And now when I do something, I don't spend time thinking about all the intricacies of a technique, I simply do it and succeed. This is a different change of pace for me as I usually punish myself when I do something wrong and get stressed really easily. But Aikido has taught me to manage my emotions and be more calmer.

Physically though, Aikido has helped me realize the state my body is in. Initially I was not a fit person and due to that I kept getting tired after every move my teacher has done to me. Not wanting to give up I began to work out at home using my own custom interval bodyweight training along with changing my entire diet. The only reason why this happened was because I wanted to be better in Aikido and improve my lifestyle choices. And now after a few months of working out and changing my diet I can cope with most of the intense training my dojo has.

So in conclusion, over a few months of practice Aikido has changed how I view and act in my life. I am grateful for learning such a wonderful art and I hope my comment would help you in a way.
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Old 02-19-2017, 11:11 AM   #10
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Re: Aikido and Health

That's great Leonard, I experienced the same when I started and during every class since. That would be the psychological component that I referred to earlier ie self-esteem and confidence. I'm sure that feeling gets even more intense as we progress and learn more about both aikido and ourselves

Chris Sawyer
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