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Old 09-05-2017, 04:46 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
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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
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 09-06-2017, 08:23 PM   #2
Avery Jenkins
 
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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 08:26 PM.

Avery Jenkins
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Old 09-08-2017, 05:29 AM   #3
JJF
 
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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, 03:00 PM   #4
barron
Dojo: Calgary Aikikai
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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, 10:18 AM   #5
Susan Dalton
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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, 03:57 PM   #6
crbateman
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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 04:08 PM.
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Old 09-18-2017, 07:00 AM   #7
SeiserL
 
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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, 10:40 AM   #8
lbb
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Quote:
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 09-21-2017, 04:28 PM   #9
bothhandsclapping
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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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Old 09-22-2017, 05:42 PM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
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
Oh my, I can relate.....

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:25 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
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...
That was brilliant, Clark, and makes it clear to me that some parts of the body age at different speeds to others. For me, it was not so much aging as aikido injuries that made me rebuild my aikido from the ground up, so to speak, after I retired a few years ago.

Shirata Rinjiro once gave a memorable seminar in Hiroshima. Though he was 74 years old at the time, he devoted the first session (3 hours) to suwari-waza and this had the young and agile struggling as much as their older sempai. I shall be 74 next birthday and wonder how much Shirata Sensei had to cope with the arthritis that is having a close DMR with some of my joints... (Note: DMR is short for 'deep and meaningful relationship,' rather like musubi, and was a term often used bv students when I was at university in the mid-sixties.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 09-23-2017 at 07:29 PM.

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Old 09-23-2017, 10:56 PM   #12
crbateman
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
That was brilliant, Clark, and makes it clear to me that some parts of the body age at different speeds to others.
It certainly has been that way for me, Peter... I remember many years ago chuckling and poking fun at my father, and his lavish assortment of creaks, groans, aches and rattles. Now, I imagine him sitting somewhere, cold one in hand, watching in amusement as I receive my karmic payback.

I guess I should find encouragement in that, at this point, my hearing is still good enough to pick up me, making all his special noises, along with a few of my own...
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Old 09-23-2017, 11:36 PM   #13
RonRagusa
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

I've had to alter how I train as I've aged but have been fortunate to not have had to eliminate anything from my training; though I'm slower and a little less freewheeling when I'm uke. At 70 I'm still taking ukemi every class, still rolling and continue to grow into a more powerful me. I attribute a lot of my ability to keep up the ukemi and rolls to staying away from high breakfalls over my 40 years of practice. I believe that has saved a lot of wear and tear on my body over the long term.

In addition to Aikido, I regularly jog, continue lifting weights, a practice that I started when I was 12 and perform daily stretching and standing meditation routines. All in all I spend 10 to 12 hours per week exercising (Aikido included).

I figure if I don't use it I'm gonna lose it, so I'll keep plugging away until I just can't do it any more.

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Old 09-24-2017, 11:10 AM   #14
rugwithlegs
Dojo: Open Sky Aikikai
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Re: Aikido Practice and Aging

Most of my adaptation is not strictly speaking due to age. It has been due to injuries that perhaps I could have avoided if I had been smarter in my youth. My arm did not get old, it got broken. It is starting to seep into how I teach - can I have my students be smarter now than I was then?

I liked an article that Peter (Boylan) posted some time ago. While there has been so much told to me over the years about how all Japanese people sat all the time in seiza, always and everywhere, the article discussed statues, paintings, and old photographs that of course showed nothing of the sort. How much seiza and suwari waza is required or how frequently it is practiced varies widely. I came from a group that had nine suwari waza techniques for fifth kyu, and we did a lot. Three knee surgeries and a toe surgery later, I finally discovered standing and moving meditation.
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