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Old 03-03-2017, 11:25 AM   #1
"Kei Thrace"
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Injuries in aikido

I have been pondering this issue for a while now, and would love to hear your thoughts. Who is responsible for minimizing injury in aikido? Is it uke's fault if he/she gets injured? Is it nage's? What is the proper response among training partners if injury occurs? What is the proper response by a dojo? What is a good standard of - or guideline for - responsible and also sincere practice?

Not too long ago I sustained an injury at the hands of a high-ranked black belt. It forced me to step off the mats for a few months, and I am still working to get back to the level I was at before the injury. I believe (and have corroborated this with others who witnessed the incident) that it was due to nage's undue speed and carelessness. I believe I took ukemi correctly - or as correctly as possible given that it was not a kihon throw - and avoided more serious injury *because* I was assuming proper form. (I am withholding details because aikido is a small world, and even so I imagine that it won't be too hard for those in the know to figure out who and where this is.) The chief instructor did not discuss the incident with the black belt. The black belt never addressed the incident with me, not even to apologize for inflicting the injury.

I have been seriously rethinking my practice at that dojo because I am coming to believe that the leadership and style of practice there encourage an aikido that is akin to "survival of the fittest". It's couched as "aikido is a martial art". - Which is a definition that has been debated a lot on these forums, and I recognize that it's not possible to bring everyone to a common definition, either of "martial" or "aikido".

Another student of that dojo, whose aikido I respect and who has always been a very thoughtful training partner, said of his philosophy, "If you show up to train with me, I expect you to be able to take ukemi for any technique [commensurate with your rank] and if you can't, that's on you." Conversely, a different shodan at the dojo said, "I never want to hurt anyone who's junior to me. I should be able to adapt my style to people with less training than I have."

I have also started noticing a pattern of women who train there for nine months or a year and then quit due to injury. The dojo never follows up. It's striking to me that the women tend to be a certain body type - i.e. on the leaner side, easier to throw. They have been of varying ages and athletic abilities so I don't think it's as easy as generalizing, "oh, women tend to be less athletic" or that they were never committed to long-term training anyway (on the theory that if you've gone through three testing cycles you're probably decently interested). Some of them have gone on to train, and even make shodan, at other dojo, and some have quit aikido altogether. Furthermore, there is at least a 7:1 ratio of female to male black belts at this organization, despite almost equal gender balance at the white belt level, and almost none of the female black belts train regularly. (The homegrown female shodan are a bit more solidly built, which I think is significant in this context. That is, I think they are harder to break than the women who were injured and left.)

I'm certainly no expert on O-Sensei, but it seems to me that no matter what your definition of aikido is, most practitioners agree that it had as its genesis the desire to minimize harm. I think there are many other sports and martial arts that make no bones as to being unabashedly devoted to destroying your opponent. I would like to believe that aikido is different in that respect. And still I struggle to reconcile a dojo philosophy that (both as observed and as self-described) puts the onus on uke to figure out how to survive. (I'm not talking about people who don't put in the time to learn good ukemi. Let's assume for this discussion that everyone is dedicated to their training and has earned their respective rank both in terms of attack and defence.)

Is this a typical attitude? Basically, "if you get injured while training with me, tough cookies". Am I kidding myself that aikido is supposed to be a collaborative and accessible endeavor, for more than just semi-pro athletes? What do you think a proper dojo response should have been, in the event of an injury that was serious enough to interrupt training for more than a couple of months? (per medical advice, not just the person's choice) What is your own guideline for how to treat your training partner? Does it differ by rank? What is your approach for how to minimize injuries on the mats? Are injuries unavoidable, or are there ways to systematically reduce the frequency and severity of injury?

(I have read many, many threads here on the forums about dojo injuries, women in aikido, why people train in aikido, and so on. I agree with some posts and disagree with others. I welcome being linked to discussions that you deem relevant but which I may have missed. My purpose though in posting my queries here is to solicit a cross-section of people's experiences and best practices. Thank you so much for reading this far.)
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Old 03-10-2017, 10:11 AM   #2
tlk52
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Re: Injuries in aikido

my attitude is that it's both parties responsibility... and at the same time there's no way to make it absolutely safe. martial training has risks. we try to minimize them but everyone who trains long enough sustains injuries at some time, and if you train long enough maybe several times.

did you really "sustained an injury at the hands of a high-ranked black belt" that implies that they did it deliberately or at minimum were careless, or did it simply happen while you were practicing with them...

Last edited by tlk52 : 03-10-2017 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 03-10-2017, 10:59 AM   #3
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I have been pondering this issue for a while now, and would love to hear your thoughts. Who is responsible for minimizing injury in aikido? Is it uke's fault if he/she gets injured? Is it nage's?
It's nage's.
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Old 03-10-2017, 03:05 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Injuries in aikido

It is my responsibility to protect my training partner.
It is my responsibility to protect myself in training.
In training we get hurt (we are all learning) ...

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 03-10-2017, 03:21 PM   #5
grondahl
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Re: Injuries in aikido

I think the main responsibility for avoiding traumatic injuries lies primarily with nage. There are however habits that some have as uke that leads to injury due to over time even if their training partners are considerate.

However, the description of your dojo does not sound lika a good place to train. Step away and find another place to train. Aikido, like all hobbies, should be a positive contribution to your life.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:22 PM   #6
rugwithlegs
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Re: Injuries in aikido

I do my best to minimize harm. Unless I am good enough to take total control of my uke, unless I am exponentially better in every way imaginable, I will probably not be good enough to do it all on my own.

O Sensei wrote guidelines for practice that are still easy to find. He gave rule #1, Aikido techniques can be lethal so we need to be careful, mindful, and obedient. It's the same logic behind no competition in most styles. Having a safe practice and minimizing injury in others seems to have never meant that Aikido movements are inherently harmless. The fine line needs to be understood well, and most Aikido people don't know enough about causing injury to be clear where the line is.

I do not chose to train with people who show contempt for the responsibility of another's life in practice. I have experienced it. My one arm was broken and the bicep detected and remains partially paralyzed after multiple surgeries thanks to a guy who said uke was always responsible for their own injuries. Respect yourself, don't end up where I am.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:25 PM   #7
Walter Martindale
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Re: Injuries in aikido

If I injure someone while training with them, I can't train with them any more. Seems rather arrogant to wreck a training partner, rather than to help him/her improve. Accidents do happen, but we need to take care to ensure that we still have people with whom to train. Certainly the velocity and impact with which one can be thrown should increase with one's experience and training history, but then as we get older and more brittle, things need to back off a little (even if our skills should protect us).
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:19 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Injuries in aikido

I second John Hillson's sentiments, though I have a somewhat different interpretation of Rule 1.

In my aikido life, I have suffered four major injuries, such that with advancing age I have to be very careful about how I train. My meniscus has been shot in both knees and I am waiting for a supposed 'miracle' cure to be available in Japan. At the time (in 1976), I was told by the surgeon that I would suffer arthritis later in life and so it has proved. I see that Christian Tissier kneels only on one knee when bowing before and after training and I suspect that he had a similar injury. I can kneel when putting on pins in 1-kyou - 4-kyou, but it takes time and effort to get up again, and so I have devised ways of doing these while standing.

The third injury was to my right wrist, which was the result of a 2-kyou applied very hard, with the nage dropping his knees as he put the technique on. I have a scar as a result of the resulting surgery, and the results were and are very good. The only effect is that I can no longer raise my right thumb by itself, but this does not cause any problems.

The fourth injury was to my right shoulder, which was twisted when I was the uke at the bottom of a pile of three or four. When I was young, strong -- and probably also stupid, I was the favourite uke of many visiting shihans. I had trained in K Chiba's London dojo, when he was younger and tougher, and was taught to be able to take ukemi in any way necessary, with or without arms and changing legs on the way, if necessary.

Now I am wiser, and run my dojo very carefully. I have to make sure that the young bloods who want to train hard -- and there are quite a few young male yudansha -- do so with those who are able to take and also give in return. So I sometimes stop training and reallocate the pairs.

Best wishes,

PS. I should add that the third and fourth injuries were suffered while taking ukemi from very senior Hombu shihans, both no longer alive, who never knew what happened.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 03-10-2017 at 07:22 PM.

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Old 03-11-2017, 04:59 AM   #9
sorokod
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
...
but it seems to me that no matter what your definition of aikido is, most practitioners agree that it had as its genesis the desire to minimize harm.
I am guessing that you use "most" not in precise, statistical all-aikidoka encompassing sense but rather in the "most of the people I practised with, and books I read" sense.
In my experience "most" practitioners don't think this way at all and consider causing harm / damage a tactic rather then strategy, one should be capable to make a choice as needed.

There is some confusion as to what practising Aikido means, sometimes this refers to training and sometimes to actual application in a real conflict. When I say practice I refer to later. Training is different but must be informed by practice.

Quote:
I think there are many other sports and martial arts that make no bones as to being unabashedly devoted to destroying your opponent. I would like to believe that aikido is different in that respect.
Can you list such sports and martial arts?

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Old 03-11-2017, 05:28 AM   #10
PeterR
 
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
I am guessing that you use "most" not in precise, statistical all-aikidoka encompassing sense but rather in the "most of the people I practised with, and books I read" sense.
In my experience "most" practitioners don't think this way at all and consider causing harm / damage a tactic rather then strategy, one should be capable to make a choice as needed.

There is some confusion as to what practising Aikido means, sometimes this refers to training and sometimes to actual application in a real conflict. When I say practice I refer to later. Training is different but must be informed by practice.

Can you list such sports and martial arts?
Just to expand on that - in a training environment where one partner effectively lends his body to the other it is the responsibility of the borrower to understand the level of his partner and not cause damage. Do other wise, no matter what the art, and you soon run out of partners.

In application the actual meaning of do no harm is open to interpretation. I doubt most consider this to mean laying the person down on a feather bed to soothing music. I prefer that if the aggressor can eventually get up, walk away and consider the error of his ways - that would be closer to the original idea.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:23 AM   #11
sorokod
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
Just to expand on that - in a training environment where one partner effectively lends his body to the other it is the responsibility of the borrower to understand the level of his partner and not cause damage. Do other wise, no matter what the art, and you soon run out of partners.
Partners enter training with an understanding of what the boundaries (and when there is misunderstanding of the understanding :-) bad things happen) are. I think that the responsibility to keep things safe is lies with both partners and this needs to be done while maintaining useful level of intensity - a tricky proposition to be sure.

Quote:
In application the actual meaning of do no harm is open to interpretation. I doubt most consider this to mean laying the person down on a feather bed to soothing music. I prefer that if the aggressor can eventually get up, walk away and consider the error of his ways - that would be closer to the original idea.
I would prefer that too but in my opinion making this the centrepiece of the discipline is a case of the tail wagging the dog. A fine and a desirable tail, but tail never the less. As you find yourself in a conflict and choose or unable to avoid the fight, the dog is denying the opponent his objective.

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Old 03-11-2017, 08:25 AM   #12
rugwithlegs
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I second John Hillson's sentiments, though I have a somewhat different interpretation of Rule 1.
Thank you Peter. I would be very interested in any insights you could offer. I am an English only speaking student on the opposite side of the world who was born after O Sensei died. I have been to Japan only once. I have no indepth understanding.

These are the sources I have laying around home:

"The original intent of bujutsu was to kill an enemy with one blow; since all techniques can be lethal, observe the instructor's directions and do not engage in contests of strength." Budo

"One blow in Aikido is capable of killing an opponent. In practice, obey your instructor, and do not make the practice period a time for needless testing of strength." Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

"As Aikido is practice by using techniques which are capable of inflicting fatal injuries, practitioners should always heed what their instructor says, and should never participate in contests of strength." From the 1997 issue of "The Aikido" by Aikido world headquarters in Tokyo.

I could not clearly prove they are O Sensei's words perfectly transcribed and translated.

I had read it as is his desire that Aikido would be a competent martial art. The more I read about Kano and his very consistent anti-war stances and his work to make jujitsu practice safe for the students I wonder if the first guideline was marketing against the competition by a military trainer. I know a few teachers who gloss over the dangerous part and latch on to students being obedient.

The challenge I have with some junior students is that they have been told Aikido is not for causing harm, and they've taken it one step too far - that any shihonage variation for example could not possibly cause injury just because it is an Aikido technique.

There is also the idea that ukemi keeps us safe so there is some magical algorithm that will nullify all variations of a technique and rend all attacks harmless. In this logic, if I get hurt then my ukemi wasn't good enough. Kawahara sensei taught that the ukemi could be taken away, or he would show a variation and say the ukemi did not exist.
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Old 03-11-2017, 01:41 PM   #13
GovernorSilver
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Re: Injuries in aikido

I'd get the heck out of that dojo and look for another one. My first exposure to Aikido was in a dojo that was like that. I left after a yudansha refused to stop cranking on my wrist after I was tapping on the mat for 5 seconds already. I'm lucky he didn't injure me.

I would recommend Ellis Amdur's "Ukemi From the Ground Up" DVD. It has some valuable tips for uke to protect himself/herself from nage who are incompetent, malicious, or both. Our dojo places similar emphasis on those aspects of ukemi: staying close to nage, have a hand ready to take hold of nage if necessary, etc.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:03 PM   #14
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful responses. I'll try to reply to individual points - and so my reply may span several posts; but some answers may also apply to more than one commenter.

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
my attitude is that it's both parties' responsibility... and at the same time there's no way to make it absolutely safe. martial training has risks. we try to minimize them but everyone who trains long enough sustains injuries at some time, and if you train long enough maybe several times.
I understand that every sport has its risks. I had my toe broken by an uke stepping hard on it when it was at an awkward angle. I take that type of injury as part of the game. We were both practicing mindfully, with proper commitment, and an accident happened. The toe is still wonky but I continue to train. With that said: I want aikido to be part of my life, but not at the expense of the rest of my life. I want to go home at the end of each day reasonably intact, without chronic pain or permanent, debilitating damage.

Quote:
Toby Kasavan wrote: View Post
did you really "sustain an injury at the hands of a high-ranked black belt" that implies that they did it deliberately or at minimum were careless, or did it simply happen while you were practicing with them...
Did I really sustain an injury? Yes. I have the medical bills to prove it - I saw three different kinds of doctors (for different symptoms) and they confirmed the initial diagnosis.

Quote:
that implies that they did it deliberately or at minimum were careless
I don't think this person set out to hurt me in particular. We had only worked together once before, ever. So I can't think there was any basis for a personal antipathy. But he was going very fast with the two previous ukes, as noted by a senior student (who was one of the two ukes) and a shodan who was observing. There were at least a couple of factors that make me think he was showing off and being reckless that day, but he also has a reputation for going too fast in class. I didn't know of this reputation till after my injury. But he's yudansha and one of the instructors at the dojo to boot. So I should think he ought to have more control at that level, not to mention a responsibility to model appropriate behavior for other students and teachers.

I am still dealing with after-effects, a bit more noticeable than a wonky toe. I consider myself fortunate that it wasn't worse - the injury could have seriously impacted my ability to function in daily life. Again, I'm aware that I can get hurt while doing aikido, just as I can get hit by a car while biking. But I assumed that everyone training at this dojo had accepted the premise that we are lending our bodies to each other for training, and therefore we should take care of each other. I won't make that mistake again.

Quote:
or did it simply happen while you were practicing with them
I'm not sure why it matters whether it was an injury caused intentionally or "while practicing"? As it happens, I was taking ukemi during a test - I myself was not one of the test-takers.

I'm disappointed both with nage for not exercising more control, and with the dojo as an organization for not taking injury seriously - either mine or any of the other serious injuries that have occurred over the last couple of years.

This week, I ran into another student who had recently quit the dojo. Their experience followed the same pattern as mine: an injury and then no or little follow-up from the dojo. I then sat down and wrote out all the major injuries I knew of ("major" = acquired during training + interrupted training for more than a month). I came up with eight in the span of 12 months and that did not include a black eye and facial cut. The list did however include two concussions, three broken bones, and a cut that required several stitches. That's more than one major injury every other month. Is that typical? I hope not. - Moreover, in the last six months by my count 25% of the mudansha 3rd kyu and up have left, following an injury or dissatisfaction with the quality of teaching. That's not a sign of a healthy dojo to me.

I've since left the dojo. I may have been naive about the possibility of careless training partners, but that doesn't mean I want to train some place that considers its students cannon fodder. I signed up for a recreational activity, not a war.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:07 PM   #15
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Thank you. This tracks with what I heard from two different 5th-dan instructors ( one whom I had never met before, one whom I have known for some time), when I described the situation. It helps me to understand the range of attitudes out there.

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
It's nage's.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:13 PM   #16
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Thank you. I do my best to protect my partners, even if they are bigger and stronger - I try to throw them where they won't hit a mirror or fall onto concrete, I look out for other flying bodies and wait till the coast is clear. I'm familiar with training bumps and bruises, those are par for the course (I joked with a friend that we should set up a Tumblr for bruises and play "guess the technique", e.g. hand bruise for kote gaeshi, arm bruise for sumiotoshi) but I'm not on board with damage inflicted because someone wasn't paying close enough attention or because they were inflating their ego.

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
It is my responsibility to protect my training partner.
It is my responsibility to protect myself in training.
In training we get hurt (we are all learning) ...
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:16 PM   #17
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Agreed. I recognize that no place is perfect, but in the end the equation was overwhelmingly in favor of leaving. O-Sensei said, "Practice with fierce joy," and I had lost my joy. I am looking for it again. I have begun training elsewhere. Thank you.

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
I think the main responsibility for avoiding traumatic injuries lies primarily with nage. There are however habits that some have as uke that leads to injury due to over time even if their training partners are considerate.

However, the description of your dojo does not sound lika a good place to train. Step away and find another place to train. Aikido, like all hobbies, should be a positive contribution to your life.
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:50 PM   #18
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Quote:
John Hillson wrote: View Post
I do my best to minimize harm. Unless I am good enough to take total control of my uke, unless I am exponentially better in every way imaginable, I will probably not be good enough to do it all on my own.

O Sensei wrote guidelines for practice that are still easy to find. He gave rule #1, Aikido techniques can be lethal so we need to be careful, mindful, and obedient. It's the same logic behind no competition in most styles. Having a safe practice and minimizing injury in others seems to have never meant that Aikido movements are inherently harmless. The fine line needs to be understood well, and most Aikido people don't know enough about causing injury to be clear where the line is.
Yes. If anything, my injury has re-emphasized to me that aikido grew out of martial techniques that were designed to kill or maim opponents, and if we don't consistently acknowledge this, we put ourselves at risk. I now have a deeper appreciation for instructors who take the time to point out just how each technique can injure a person, and how both nage and uke can stop short of inflicting that kind of damage on each other. And, I appreciate good leadership: teaching students how to manage their own safety, while also managing practice such that dangerous situations do not arise (e.g. every one throws outward when the mat is crowded) or are stopped before they get out of hand (calling for kokyu tanden ho when everyone gets high on adrenaline and starts going too fast).

Quote:
I do not choose to train with people who show contempt for the responsibility of another's life in practice. I have experienced it. My one arm was broken and the bicep detected and remains partially paralyzed after multiple surgeries thanks to a guy who said uke was always responsible for their own injuries. Respect yourself, don't end up where I am.
Thank you. I appreciate the advice. I was told that if one learned how to take good enough ukemi, one would never get hurt. But after a while I started feeling like a Little Leaguer thrown into a major-league ball game, expected to hit or dodge 95-mph fastballs. I'm finding another place to play.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:29 PM   #19
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

I wish more aikidoka had your outlook. I do think in general that even if we were training for combat situations, it would be preferable not to damage one's fellow fighters to the extent that they are hobbled on the field, or unable to fight at all. But some people seem to think they are invincible and/or exempt from looking out for their partners. Even so, I still think aikido can be a very inclusive art, if we are patient and open-minded with each other.

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
If I injure someone while training with them, I can't train with them any more. Seems rather arrogant to wreck a training partner, rather than to help him/her improve. Accidents do happen, but we need to take care to ensure that we still have people with whom to train. Certainly the velocity and impact with which one can be thrown should increase with one's experience and training history, but then as we get older and more brittle, things need to back off a little (even if our skills should protect us).
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:38 PM   #20
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

Thank you. I really, really do appreciate hearing the voices of experience. I do not have a lot of experience in sports or with sports injuries, so it's helpful to hear a counterpoint to the voices that consider injury just par for the course, or even badges of honor.

Quote:
Now I am wiser, and run my dojo very carefully. I have to make sure that the young bloods who want to train hard -- and there are quite a few young male yudansha -- do so with those who are able to take and also give in return. So I sometimes stop training and reallocate the pairs.
This is so important. Class management speaks volumes about what is, or is not, valued by a teacher and by the organization.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I second John Hillson's sentiments, though I have a somewhat different interpretation of Rule 1.

In my aikido life, I have suffered four major injuries, such that with advancing age I have to be very careful about how I train. My meniscus has been shot in both knees and I am waiting for a supposed 'miracle' cure to be available in Japan. At the time (in 1976), I was told by the surgeon that I would suffer arthritis later in life and so it has proved. I see that Christian Tissier kneels only on one knee when bowing before and after training and I suspect that he had a similar injury. I can kneel when putting on pins in 1-kyou - 4-kyou, but it takes time and effort to get up again, and so I have devised ways of doing these while standing.

The third injury was to my right wrist, which was the result of a 2-kyou applied very hard, with the nage dropping his knees as he put the technique on. I have a scar as a result of the resulting surgery, and the results were and are very good. The only effect is that I can no longer raise my right thumb by itself, but this does not cause any problems.

The fourth injury was to my right shoulder, which was twisted when I was the uke at the bottom of a pile of three or four. When I was young, strong -- and probably also stupid, I was the favourite uke of many visiting shihans. I had trained in K Chiba's London dojo, when he was younger and tougher, and was taught to be able to take ukemi in any way necessary, with or without arms and changing legs on the way, if necessary.

Now I am wiser, and run my dojo very carefully. I have to make sure that the young bloods who want to train hard -- and there are quite a few young male yudansha -- do so with those who are able to take and also give in return. So I sometimes stop training and reallocate the pairs.

Best wishes,

PS. I should add that the third and fourth injuries were suffered while taking ukemi from very senior Hombu shihans, both no longer alive, who never knew what happened.
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:20 PM   #21
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

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...
but it seems to me that no matter what your definition of aikido is, most practitioners agree that it had as its genesis the desire to minimize harm.
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David Soroko wrote: View Post
I am guessing that you use "most" not in precise, statistical all-aikidoka encompassing sense but rather in the "most of the people I practised with, and books I read" sense.

In my experience "most" practitioners don't think this way at all and consider causing harm / damage a tactic rather then strategy, one should be capable to make a choice as needed.
Ok, I may have over-reached with that statement there. You probably have worked with many more practitioners than I ever will. Though with that said, I don't think I've seen a lot of aikido dojo mission statements that say, "you will learn how and when to damage your opponent".

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There is some confusion as to what practising Aikido means, sometimes this refers to training and sometimes to actual application in a real conflict. When I say practice I refer to later. Training is different but must be informed by practice.
Well, I'm probably more likely to slip on ice and automatically do a breakfall, than to find myself in a dark alley attempting to disarm an opponent. I have a goal of progressing in my aikido and continuing to practice - by which I mean showing up at the dojo and working with other aikidoka - hopefully without too much pain, into my nineties if I can.

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Can you list such sports and martial arts?
Again with my over-reaching. Probably just another example of me believing the fantasy of aikido as a "kinder, gentler" martial art. Never mind, not the droids you're looking for...
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Old 03-11-2017, 08:41 PM   #22
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

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Peter Rehse wrote: View Post
Just to expand on that - in a training environment where one partner effectively lends his body to the other it is the responsibility of the borrower to understand the level of his partner and not cause damage. Do otherwise, no matter what the art, and you soon run out of partners.
Sadly I think the dojo in question relies on a steady stream of newbies to balance out the attrition. There are not many regulars who have been there since its inception, in contrast to other area dojo where I routinely meet people who say "I've been here for 18 years" and so on.

One thing I find problematic is the admonition to only attack as hard as you want yourself to be thrown. I feel like my partners sometimes understand this to be "I will throw you as hard as you throw me". I can throw someone harder than I myself want to be thrown. I can throw someone who has the ukemi skills to take a big throw, but I may not be at that level myself with respect to the same technique. I don't have the mass to absorb a full body slam effectively. But nage also doesn't need as much force to throw me. (I think I'm lumping together several related but slightly different things here... maybe someone can help me unpack this?)

Quote:
In application the actual meaning of do no harm is open to interpretation. I doubt most consider this to mean laying the person down on a feather bed to soothing music. I prefer that if the aggressor can eventually get up, walk away and consider the error of his ways - that would be closer to the original idea.
Agreed, I'm not asking for dance practice here, even if I think aikido can have many elements in common with a well-established dance partnership. (blending, cooperation, communication) I think an effective pin, say, should be put on in the context of strict attention to uke's cues - up to the point of resistance, but backing off instantly at the first sign of tapping or pain. It's hard to put people back together, and it only takes longer to heal, the older we get.
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:04 PM   #23
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

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David Soroko wrote: View Post
Partners enter training with an understanding of what the boundaries (and when there is misunderstanding of the understanding :-) bad things happen) are. I think that the responsibility to keep things safe is lies with both partners and this needs to be done while maintaining useful level of intensity - a tricky proposition to be sure.
I agree that there is supposed to be a mutual understanding of the boundaries. I thought I was keeping myself safe by staying aware and speaking up if someone was practicing with me in an unsafe manner. I was injured on the second throw. No time to establish a pattern. My mistake was to set aside what I had seen happening to the previous uke. Even so, my mistake did not justify nage's failure to exercise appropriate control.

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I would prefer that too but in my opinion making this the centrepiece of the discipline is a case of the tail wagging the dog. A fine and a desirable tail, but tail never the less. As you find yourself in a conflict and choose or unable to avoid the fight, the dog is denying the opponent his objective.
I don't think of myself as a purist. In a dark alley facing a much larger, armed opponent, I'm not likely to overpower or outrun anyone, so if I can hurt them enough to get away, I will do so. If I had full control of a weapon, I would probably deploy it to hurt definitively, before I aim to kill, but again, my intent would be to create enough time and space for me to get away. And I probably wouldn't know enough to be so precise in deploying a weapon, anyway, whether it's a gun or a knife. I guess that'll be the next area of training...
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:14 PM   #24
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

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John Hillson wrote: View Post
Thank you Peter. I would be very interested in any insights you could offer.
I will also be very interested in Peter's response!

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John Hillson wrote: View Post
The challenge I have with some junior students is that they have been told Aikido is not for causing harm, and they've taken it one step too far - that any shihonage variation for example could not possibly cause injury just because it is an Aikido technique.
That's a scary misconception.

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John Hillson wrote: View Post
There is also the idea that ukemi keeps us safe so there is some magical algorithm that will nullify all variations of a technique and render all attacks harmless. In this logic, if I get hurt then my ukemi wasn't good enough. Kawahara sensei taught that the ukemi could be taken away, or he would show a variation and say the ukemi did not exist.
Glad you brought this up. This line of reasoning drives me mad. I am still early in my aikido journey - does this mean I should expect to be hurt until I learn better? Often I've been told, when I can't make a technique work (because I am learning!) - "O-sensei was your size, he could handle huge men effortlessly!" Well, yes, but he was also a master swordsman and all-around martial expert, as far as I know. Just because we're the same height doesn't magically give me his powers. We don't throw third-graders into an NFL game and have them be tackled by pros. There's a reason there are weight classes in many types of competition.

I'll have to look up Kawahara-sensei now.
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:23 PM   #25
"Kei Thrace"
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Re: Injuries in aikido

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Paolo Valladolid wrote: View Post
I'd get the heck out of that dojo and look for another one. My first exposure to Aikido was in a dojo that was like that. I left after a yudansha refused to stop cranking on my wrist after I was tapping on the mat for 5 seconds already. I'm lucky he didn't injure me.
Yikes. I've run into some like that. Glad you weren't hurt. And thank you for the encouragement to move on. I'm looking around now, I am no longer willing to put up with mean or careless partners and an organization that looks the other way.

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Paolo Valladolid wrote: View Post
I would recommend Ellis Amdur's "Ukemi From the Ground Up" DVD. It has some valuable tips for uke to protect himself/herself from nage who are incompetent, malicious, or both. Our dojo places similar emphasis on those aspects of ukemi: staying close to nage, have a hand ready to take hold of nage if necessary, etc.
Thanks for this. I will look into it. Am currently reading "Dueling with O-Sensei," also by Ellis Amdur, as recommended by a wise friend. Ooof. Wish I'd come upon it sooner.
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