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Old 03-20-2002, 12:08 PM   #1
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
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Should I quit Aikido because of a disease?

I am going to pose a very personal struggle I have to wrestle with, should I quit Aikido because of the deteriorating effects of Meniere's disease upon my balance and endurance?

Meniere's is a vestibular disease, it affects hearing and balance with side effect of tiredness or malaise. In effect, what would be an hour of work for a normal person, would be cramming three or four normal hours into one hour without a second wind ... very tiring! That with complete loss of balance during portions of the class, and the doctor's telling me I should't do Aikido, am I doing the wrong thing by continueing?

My teacher, Chet Griffin has been doing Aikido for over thirty years, and I have yet to meet any sensei who doesn't treasure the classic execution of Aikido by this seventy plus year old man. Should I feel quilty about not being able to advance, only maintain what skills I have now that allow me to modify my practice?
I know that age and time are limited in my time and the time I have to spend with my teacher?

Do any of you have someone who practices with a deteriorating balance, and endurance ... what reliefs, if any, do you know of?

Thanks. Bruce.
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Old 03-20-2002, 03:36 PM   #2
Jon C Strauss
Dojo: Rocky Mountain Ki Society
Location: Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 15
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Howdy,

We've had some folks who've trained at our dojo with a variety of health problems (e.g. fibromyalgia, asthma, cerebal palsey, etc.). They've done as much as they can or as little as they want to, and we certainly have no problem with any of it. Helping all kinds of people practice benefits our own training and understanding in the (not so) long run.

If you're still getting something out of your training, be it physically, spiritually, etc., then stick with it.

Sorry I can't offer you any tips on relief from your symptoms.

Peace,
JCS
RMKS at CSU

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
--Booker T. Washington
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Old 03-20-2002, 05:29 PM   #3
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,072
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Re: Should I quit Aikido because of a disease?

Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Baker
I am going to pose a very personal struggle I have to wrestle with, should I quit Aikido because of the deteriorating effects of Meniere's disease upon my balance and endurance?

Meniere's is a vestibular disease, it affects hearing and balance with side effect of tiredness or malaise. In effect, what would be an hour of work for a normal person, would be cramming three or four normal hours into one hour without a second wind ... very tiring! That with complete loss of balance during portions of the class, and the doctor's telling me I should't do Aikido, am I doing the wrong thing by continueing?
I taught a person who was paralyzed from the waist down. I've trained with a deaf person with very little balance (related to the deafness), and another person who could only stand upright if they were perfectly vertical and tended to fall over a lot (due to an unusual knee condition). They all did OK. If you get something out of your training then I would think that you should be OK too.

Quote:
My teacher, Chet Griffin has been doing Aikido for over thirty years, and I have yet to meet any sensei who doesn't treasure the classic execution of Aikido by this seventy plus year old man. Should I feel quilty about not being able to advance, only maintain what skills I have now that allow me to modify my practice?
I think that there is an important issue here, not necessarily related to disease. That is, how much does achievement matter in terms of continuing practice? Does practice still have value even if you never get any better? Now, like just about everyone else, I hope and try to become better at Aikido then I am right now. Realistically, however, there it's quite likely that I will never be as good as many of the people that I've trained under. Does that matter? It does if the point of your training is to attain a certain goal - for example, if you're trying to get a driver's license there's really no point in practicing unless you, at some point, actually get the license. In modern budo training there's really no concrete goal to achieve. For most people the skills gained aren't critical (or in many cases even applicable) to their daily life in the sense that they would be applicable for,say, someone going into battle. Personally, I train because I enjoy the training. I may or may not get better (I hope that I do), but even if I don't that doesn't change in the least the fact that I enjoy the process.

Best,

Chris

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Old 03-20-2002, 06:27 PM   #4
MaylandL
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 241
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Hello Bruce

That's a really tough call that you have to make. Personally I would get a couple of medical opinions on continuing with aikido and get all of the pros and cons as you can.

The other aspect is what you want to achieve out of aikido. From what I have read of O Sensei and aikido, practice and training can be very personal and self development is taken at the pace the aikidoka wants to have.

At the dojos that I train at we will not exclude people and do not place them in situations which they are not comfortable with or is not consistent with their objectives for training and practicing aikido.

I'm not sure what the answer is and I fear that I am unable to give you anything that may be useful other than to say that perhaps a discussion with your sensei and other medical and paramedical opinions may provide a path for you to follow. Perhaps discussions with Sensei can provide a way where you can train and specific techniques that you can train in that allow you to achieve your aikido goals. Other medical and paramedical opinions may provide you with ways to modify your training habits.

Whatever the outcome of your deliberations, I sincerely hope that you can continue to train in someway for it seems to me that aikido plays an important part in your life. All the best.

Mayland
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Old 03-21-2002, 02:57 AM   #5
Kami
Dojo: ShinToKai DoJo of AiKiDo
Location: Brazil
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 355
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Unhappy Re: Should I quit Aikido because of a disease?

Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Baker
I am going to pose a very personal struggle I have to wrestle with, should I quit Aikido because of the deteriorating effects of Meniere's disease upon my balance and endurance?
what would be an hour of work for a normal person, would be cramming three or four normal hours into one hour without a second wind ... very tiring! That with complete loss of balance during portions of the class, and the doctor's telling me I should't do Aikido, am I doing the wrong thing by continueing?
Bruce.
KAMI : I hate to say that but...IT DEPENDS. If you have a doctor it is because you trust him. In such an important matter (at least for you), I'd say you should consult 2 or 3 other doctors. It's not a question of Aikido, it's a question of health and possibilities. I have several diseases that keep me away from training. That's bad but I keep making some specific exercises (recomended for my special condition) and I keep reading, participating in lists and helping my son's dojo. And what do you know? I feel fine.
Try what I suggest and tell me the results, OK?
Life is good, in spite of all!
Best regards

"We are all teachers, and what we teach is what we need to learn, and so we teach it over and over again until we learn it".
Unknown author

Ubaldo Alcantara
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Old 03-21-2002, 07:22 AM   #6
Abasan
Dojo: Aiki Shoshinkan, Aiki Kenkyukai
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 813
Malaysia
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This is not exactly answering your question, but its somewhat of a related nature. I hope.

When I first wanted to join Aikido, I was a bit sceptical at first. Because I have a back injury, specifically, a spinal protusion. It hurts like hell, and sometimes I'm bed ridden for hours or days before it dissipates.

For two years I didn't join because everyone kept advising me not to. There were too many falls in aikido, and it won't do my back any good. Well, finally I cave in to my childhood desire to learn this art. And what do you know, practising it has improved my health. My back doesn't hurt like it did before, although it does comes back if I get too careless. Breakfalls? not a problem at all.

Similarly, there is this story about a guy who was told by a doctor he would only have 2 months to live. The story in short, had the man prepare everything to greet his departure to the afterworld, only to live on healthily enough for several more years.

Take whatever they have to say with a pinch of salt. The strength of the human spirit is astonishing somewhat. Although I do not believe Aikido is magic and will help you, I do believe that you have to keep a strong will and a sense of purpose, and only you yourself can overcome your disease.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 03-21-2002, 05:31 PM   #7
Largo
Dojo: Aikikai Dobunkan/ Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu
Location: Indiana
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 247
United_States
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There's an interesting karate/ kickboxing guy named bill wallace. He got hurt doing judo and can only really use one of his legs. All in all, I think he can only do 1 or 2 kinds of kicks. However, he can do them (I believe) at about 120 mph (not sure of exact stats...but he's pretty famous).
Not saying you'll be the next bill wallace, but I'm not saying its quitting time either.
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Old 03-21-2002, 11:10 PM   #8
janet
Dojo: City Aikido
Location: Northern California
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 18
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Hi. I'm going to add my voice to those encouraging you to continue training on whatever basis you can, so long as you find something joyful or rewarding in the process.
Is your doctor telling you to stop aikido out of a belief that the vestibular stimulation of aikido will worsen your symptoms? well, I don't know of any research to either prove or disprove it--I'd trust YOUR knowledge of your body, and yeah, get a second opinion too.
There's a message I recently sent somebody:
why are you training despite your condiitons....
Because you are not training for combat
Because you are not training for the Olympics
Because you are striving to do the best aikido you can, WHATEVER that
happens to constitute from day to day.
Stop and take the measure of where you have been. Look where you are today. If it is not enough to focus just on process, what is a short
term goal you can realistically work towards.

all the best to you--

janet
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Old 03-22-2002, 07:21 AM   #9
Chuck.Gordon
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
United_States
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Slightly offtopic but stay tuned ... it gets bette

Quote:
Originally posted by Largo
... bill wallace. He got hurt doing judo and can only really use one of his legs. ...
I'd heard a different story, but upon doing a Google search, I found this:

Quote:
From: http://www.blackbeltmag.com/archives.../yb97/joe.html

"Bill Wallace also began his martial arts training in shorin-ryu karate. It was sort of by accident that he got into karate because originally he was an exceptional judo player with a background in wrestling. He got his start in judo while in the U.S. Air Force, and in 1966 he had the misfortune of sustaining a career-ending injury at least as far as competitive judo was concerned. He completely ripped the ligaments in his right knee.

"While his knee was healing, Wallace seized the opportunity to get into karate and decided to "just do it." He trained with some positive and committed people at a school in Okinawa's Naha city, and, ... made short work of earning his black belt.

"After his discharge from the Air Force, Wallace returned to his home state of Indiana and enrolled at Ball State University. He later earned a master's degree in kinesiology at Memphis State University in Tennessee, where he taught wrestling, weightlifting, judo and karate."
I had the opportunity to meet Wallace several years ago and found him to be a genuinely nice guy, deeply dedicated to what he was doing and interested in just about anything to do with the martial arts.

Bruce has mentioned elsewhere that he has Meniere's Disease. Here's my experience with that:

In terms of training, quitting or going on sabbatical ... I had to leave the mat for a couple of years at one point, after I'd messed up a shoulder really badly (lost about a third of the collarbone and snaffed up the muscles, tendons, nerves and connective tissues). While I couldn't train, I still studied, did research and stretched.

As soon as I could, I began doing one-handed budo, very gently and carefully.

Some years later, I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, a condition that impairs my sense of balance, is accompanied by often severe tinnitus, etc. The EENT doc was baffled how I could stand upright and walk down the hall without weaving.

I told him I had been dizzy all my life anyhow, this wasn't anything new. Or was that ditzy? Anyhow, _I_ believe, the turning, rolling, whirling, getting dumped on my tuckus I'd done for 20 years before helped me stay oriented, but I still get the occasional shift in my worldview and have to take a second to reorient.

It's as if the room suddenly skews several degrees and I have to redetermine vertical and horizontal.

Meniere's can be directly affected by diet. After the diagnosis, I spent about a year experimenting. First I cut out all caffeine (and went through the withdrawal. Ech!), chocolate and salt. Then I discovered that Aspartame -- NutraSweet (tm) -- also affected my condition. That got tossed out, too.

Over the year following, I discovered that I could add some caffeine back in (I use half-caff coffee generally) and use a little salt in cooking (but I do not salt my food after cooking). A small amount of chocolate is OK, but the dark stuff my wife loves so dearly is tougher to deal with than milk chocolate.

The worst culprits are salt and aspartame. I still don't drink diet drinks and read labels carefully for potential salt and asparatme content.

The worst of it all was the tinnitus. That's what got me to go to the doc in the first place. The vertigo, I figured, was just me growing older and not being as steady as I was as a kid.

The ringing in my ears got so bad, I couldn't sleep. And after a while, I started noting symptoms of sleep deprivation setting in as well. Once I got my diet somewhat levelled out, the tinnitus diminished, but never will go away.

Originally, I thought the tinn. was result of the years I spent in the military making and hearing things go BOOM. And that might have contributed, but the condition was probably beginning earlier than that.

Now, I use a noise machine or one of those 'sounds of nature' CDs in the stereo to help mask the tinn. It helps immensely.

The key there, for me, is that the sounds are either natural, such as surf or rainfall (pretty effective), or white noise (somewhat less effective, but better than the high C tone of the tinn.

The tinn. tends to get 'captured' by distinctly rhythmic sounds and will pulse to the beat. If I'm listeneing to music, that's fine, but it's hell to try to sleep with. Soft, random sounds that -- hmm, the word sussurrus (sp?) comes to mind -- soothe are what I look for.

The end shot of all that? I'm still training, 2-3 times a week. Still go to work everyday, still go hiking, biking, swimming, dancing. Still do what I want to do.

However, that said, my case is my own, and everyone is affected and deals somewhat differently.

Bruce, I wish you the best in whatever you decide, but I'd advise staying on the mat as long as you possibly can. I've found that the fitter and more active I am, the less the condition impacts me ... good luck!

Chuck

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Old 03-22-2002, 08:06 AM   #10
Kat.C
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 212
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Re: Should I quit Aikido because of a disease?

Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Baker
I am going to pose a very personal struggle I have to wrestle with, should I quit Aikido because of the deteriorating effects of Meniere's disease upon my balance and endurance?

Meniere's is a vestibular disease, it affects hearing and balance with side effect of tiredness or malaise. In effect, what would be an hour of work for a normal person, would be cramming three or four normal hours into one hour without a second wind ... very tiring! That with complete loss of balance during portions of the class, and the doctor's telling me I should't do Aikido, am I doing the wrong thing by continueing?

Thanks. Bruce.
It sounds as if you really enjoy doing aikido, and as our emotional and physical well being are closely linked to each other, giving up something you love doing so much could be more harmful than beneficial.
(Unless doing aikido is actually seriously harming you.)
(I hope no one minds me posting seeing as I've not started aikido yet. Have to wait for the results of an x-ray otherwise I'd have started by now.)Anyways just thought I'd stick in my two cents worth.
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Old 03-22-2002, 09:38 AM   #11
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
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Should I quit ... response/Bruce

Thanks everyone!

Well, I am finding that salt and aspertame "to kill the pain" another area to watch, so thanks about that Chuck...

I think a lot of my damage is internal organs besides the virtual symptoms of Meniere's from working in a boat factory, that might have chemically accelerated this condition?

I guess it is the fact that the episodes are getting so bad that almost ninety percent of the rolling and falling are a problem, which half the fun of doing aikido ... feeling the energy, its exchange, its openings and opportunities to do other techniques within techniques. I don't think anything, except death, can keep me away from some type of Aikido practice.

For Right Now ... at least for a month or so, I am gonna try and find the root cause of Meniere's, which Chinese medicine says is to look at the liver and gall bladder. Although my friend at Kyusho, Evan Panzati, gave me some massage exercises for gall bladder/ spleen, there are darker test results of liver problem which point directly to the Chinese diagnosis.

I really love the way we all help each other with our take on how Aikido works, finding little ways to polish our physical and mental understanding of Aikido.
You know, it has taken awhile to feel ... yes feel the intensity of locks, and manipulations to the point of not using undue strength of my tree like body, but sometimes when bodiliy pain increases, and an episode comes ...

Let's just say, I know when to take cover from a storm of pain, shaking, and dizzyness, which I think is weak internal organs that need attention more than the nerves in my head?

Enough of this ... thanks everyone.
It really helps to get advice, information, and a kick in the ass now and then.

I will take an O'Sensei sabatical to get in touch with my Aikido, I really don't think I could bear to be away from it what little time you and I have been given to live and practice Aikido together?
Thanks again.
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