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Old 09-05-2017, 03:46 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 286
Aikido Practice and Aging

I had a big birthday last month, and it got me thinking about how my practice is changing to match my physical capabilities as I age. I wrote a blog about it but I'm wondering how everyone else is adapting their training as they age and acquire reminders of past mistakes. How has your training changed over the years?

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
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Old 09-06-2017, 07:23 PM   #2
Avery Jenkins
Avery Jenkins's Avatar
Dojo: Litchfield Hills Aikikai
Location: Litchfield, CT
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 151
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

I try, but usually fail, to practice softer, as I wrap up my 60th year on the planet. I give myself more time to heal, and permission to not try do do things that my injuries say I shouldn't. I get to class much earlier to warm up for a good long time (this is key).

I'm nearly deaf now, and have to wear hearing aids during class. Often, during the summer months, they get too wet and start squealing, at which point I have to take them out. My dojo mates are very good at telling me the things I miss, like "Sensei said to practice in groups of 4."

The hardest part is when Sensei demonstrates, and I can't hear what she says. Sometimes she'll demonstrate something, and in my head I'll go "wtf, why the hell would you do it that way?" Then she switches gears, and I realize she was telling us what *not* to do. Ah.

On a few occasions, I've gotten slammed to the mat so hard that one of my hearing aids comes out and spins across the mat, at which point I go full into "linebacker chasing fumble" mode and dive on that sucker like it was the map to Shambala. Those damn things cost a fortune, I'll be damned if I let one get crushed on the bad end of a shiho nage.

Last edited by Avery Jenkins : 09-06-2017 at 07:26 PM.

Avery Jenkins
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Old 09-08-2017, 04:29 AM   #3
JJF's Avatar
Dojo: Vestfyn Aikikai Denmark
Location: Vissenbjerg
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 789
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

I personally feel the slowly starting decay of my senses and bodily strength. This forces me to cut out physical power in my technique and refine my movements instead.

Not being able to keep up the high pace for as long also forces me to build a better situation-control, so all in all accepting the limitations of ones body opens the door for new things to be learned. I don't enjoy the decay - but I like feeling my body control being better and the decay being slower than with most of my peers. Years of practice is starting to pay. I put sweat in the bank and is harvesting good health as interest.

Not a bad deal I think

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 09-11-2017, 02:00 PM   #4
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 67
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Having entered the +65 group I know that I have had to soften and modify my training and thankfully most of the dojo members know that. My sensei also has been reminding me for the past decade to slow down and use technique and not strength, but it's still good to beat on the "young'uns" every so often!

A young friend in the dojo (only in his forties) told me that his old Sensei warned him

"In your 20's you feel no pain after training the next day.
In your 30's, one day of pain.
In your 40's, two days of pain after training.
In your 50's and beyond, you feel pain all the time."

My advise is to pace yourself, listen to what the body is telling you. Don't ignore it like you did in your youth and reach for the ibuprofen ...

Andrew Barron
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Old 09-17-2017, 09:18 AM   #5
Susan Dalton
Dojo: Greensboro Kodokan
Location: Greensboro
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 332
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Someone recently told me he practices "healing suwariwaza." I think I know what he means.
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Old 09-17-2017, 02:57 PM   #6
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Location: Orlando, FL
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,497
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

My body has spent the last few years conspiring against me (or perhaps it's the other way 'round )

On the mat, I can still nage to some degree, but ukemi is much more difficult. Nowadays, gravity is my enemy... One glaring problem is that, once I've fallen, I can't get up, which makes my practice sessions very short...

Of my numerous infirmities, I think the biggest single problem has been that the diabetic neuropathy in both my feet leaves me with no feedback from the mat whatsoever, and waza is very difficult when I have to reacquaint myself, moment-to-moment, with where my feet are, and what they are doing... It also makes maneuvering in a hakama next to impossible without getting hopelessly tangled up.

I've boiled it down to this subtle metamorphosis describing my practice, chronologically:

Stage 1: Tri-weekly
Stage 2: Try weekly
Stage 3: Try weakly

Hopefully, others will fare much better than I...

Last edited by crbateman : 09-17-2017 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:00 AM   #7
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,872
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

At some point you learn to train intelligently/wiser rather than just training harder or training through it because that will lead to injuries that will stop you from training at all ...

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 09-18-2017, 09:40 AM   #8
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,137
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
At some point you learn to train intelligently/wiser rather than just training harder or training through it because that will lead to injuries that will stop you from training at all ...
Indeed. It also helps to realize that there is no "through it" for many things. You do not "train through" aging and come out young; you do not "train through" a chronic condition and come out healed or cured. Many of the things that afflict us are permanent in nature: you manage them, you live with them, you don't spout a bunch of sports-drink platitudes and somehow magic them away.
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Old Yesterday, 03:28 PM   #9
Dojo: Both Hands Clapping
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 79
Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

At 63 (and still doing our energetic style of Zen and Aikido about 10 hours a week), I'd say there are three major differences between now and say 30 years ago.
  1. I have no problem reminding uke to just relax ... that if they are tense, they are no longer attacking and I'm not about to try to throw someone who is no longer actively attacking.
  2. I pick my spots for breakfalls. In class, we practice breakfalls weekly - on landing mats, but I will limit breakfalls on the floor mat to one or two a month.
  3. I really, really listen to my ukemi and try to make it perfectly quiet. Any noise at all is an impact on my body that I would prefer to avoid.

And last, I attribute a lot of this Aikido longevity to (besides genes, I guess) bike riding - riding to and from the dojo every class (6 days a week). Even when doing prodigious amounts of breakfalls, I've never had hip or knee problems and I'm wondering if it has been a matter of getting on the bike and working out some of the kinks out after each Aikido class.

Jim Redel BHC Aikido
"The universe, aikido, the mind - both hands clapping!"
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