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Old 05-29-2002, 08:34 PM   #1
Miguel Cuevas
Dojo: Vineland Aikikia
Location: New Jersey, U.S.A.
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Weight lifting and Aikido

I am new to aikido, having been traing in the art for about 2 months. I absolutely love it.
I used to lift weights about 6 years ago, and I'm thinking about purchasing a weight set for my home. I train at my dojo 3 times a week and I practice at home by myself on the days I don't go. I thought it would be great to intergrate a weight lifting program (utilizing light weights) into my daily stretching and aikido practice.
My only concern is that some of the literature have I read says that muscle mass is usually a no-no when it comes to aikido. I want greater hand and lower abdomen strength, along with a healthier body all around. Will weightlifting have a detrimental effect on my progression in aikido? If not, where could I learn about which excercises would best supplement my aikido training? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-29-2002, 08:57 PM   #2
PeterR
 
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Re: Weight lifting and Aikido

You did say utilizing light weights mixed with stretching - by that I assume you are not going for bulk. What you described sounds very beneficial. I personally am starting to do the same thing mainly because my regular Judo partner (exploring the other side of the jujutsu coin) is massive and my strength needs a bit of work.

Secondly I always tell my kohei (and students when I had them) you always have your strength - in the dojo we work on technique. Usually I am implying that you don't need to muscle the technique but that does not negate the importance of strength training. For that weights can be very useful.

Quote:
Originally posted by Miguel Cuevas
I am new to aikido, having been traing in the art for about 2 months. I absolutely love it.
I used to lift weights about 6 years ago, and I'm thinking about purchasing a weight set for my home. I train at my dojo 3 times a week and I practice at home by myself on the days I don't go. I thought it would be great to intergrate a weight lifting program (utilizing light weights) into my daily stretching and aikido practice.
My only concern is that some of the literature have I read says that muscle mass is usually a no-no when it comes to aikido. I want greater hand and lower abdomen strength, along with a healthier body all around. Will weightlifting have a detrimental effect on my progression in aikido? If not, where could I learn about which excercises would best supplement my aikido training? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-29-2002, 10:27 PM   #3
MaylandL
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Re: Weight lifting and Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Miguel Cuevas
I am new to aikido, having been traing in the art for about 2 months. I absolutely love it.
I used to lift weights about 6 years ago...
I thought it would be great to intergrate a weight lifting program (utilizing light weights) into my daily stretching and aikido practice.
...Will weightlifting have a detrimental effect on my progression in aikido? If not, where could I learn about which excercises would best supplement my aikido training? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Miguel and welcome to aikido. Glad to hear that you're enjoying it .

I have a regular weights and cardio workout program at the gym to supplement my aikido training. Been doing this for a number of years now. I took a fitness test before hand and a consultation with the gym instructor about a tailored program for the development of muscle power (not bulk), general toning, building and maintaining good stamina and abdominal muscles. This equates to about 40 minutes of a variety of upper and lower body weight exercises, about 20 minutes on a exercise bike (about 8 miles) and rower (about 5 miles) and 20 minutes doing abs. Its similar training to body conditioning for sprinters because I was wanting to get powerful and quick movements while maintaining stamina (its been good basic body conditioning for aikido).

I spent over an hour with the gym instructor discussing what MA I was doing, the movements that were involved and what I wanted to achieve. I specifically stressed to the Gym Instructor that I was wanting to achieve good body conditioning not body building. So we set some basic targets for weight range for my height (about 140lbs), resting heartrate (about 55) and body fat percentage (10-15%) as a means of monitoring progress.

The weight exercises focus on short sets and reps with increasing weights. For example, 3 sets of 8,6 and 4 reps with light (about 70lbs), moderate (about 100lbs) and heavy weights (about 140lbs) for upper body weights. Lower body weight training use heavier weights but with the same sets and reps. You'll need to set the specific weights for your training objectives and body dimensions/stats.

While on the bike and rower, I need to maintain a heartrate of about 140.

With warmups and cool down stretching it takes a little over 1 and a half hours to complete the program. So far its been very beneficial not just for my aikido training, but general health and fitness.

I pay about $300AUD per year for the gym membership and this allows unlimited access to the gym facilities. You may wish to look at gym membership as an alternative to purchasing your own equipment. Some of the memberships have other benefits/facilities (eg sauna, spas, therapeutic massages, swimming pool, etc) as well and you also get access to a wider range of exercise equipment. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.

Your local gym might be able to help you establish a training program. Perhaps a physiotherapist might offer some suggestions too. Another source could be your sensei or sempais.

Hope this helps and all the best for your training .

Last edited by MaylandL : 05-29-2002 at 10:33 PM.

Mayland
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Old 05-29-2002, 10:56 PM   #4
Erik
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Re: Weight lifting and Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Miguel Cuevas
I used to lift weights about 6 years ago, and I'm thinking about purchasing a weight set for my home. I train at my dojo 3 times a week and I practice at home by myself on the days I don't go. I thought it would be great to intergrate a weight lifting program (utilizing light weights) into my daily stretching and aikido practice.
Other than safety because you are at home, I'm not sure what would be wrong with using heavier weights, whatever that means. Otherwise it just becomes an endurance program.

Quote:
My only concern is that some of the literature have I read says that muscle mass is usually a no-no when it comes to aikido.
Only in Aikido are we not allowed to use modern training methods. Just about every sport on the planet derives benefits from weight training. The idea that weights are bad is pretty much a myth but then you are hanging out in a realm where people believe the unbendable arm is the result of ki so what can I say.

Quote:
Will weightlifting have a detrimental effect on my progression in aikido?
Probably not! I'd say no but then you may hurt yourself lifting weights so it could technically be detrimental.

Quote:
If not, where could I learn about which excercises would best supplement my aikido training? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
There are a number of basic books and programs out there. Four books have stood out to me.

Flawless by Bob Paris

Excellent all around weight program. Paris is one of the best writers on the topic and it's a book that beginners could work from.

Condition the NBA Way by a bunch of people

I like this book mostly because it was a complete program with weights and the like but it takes a lot of time. Too much time for most of us.

The Complete Book Of Abs by Kurt Brungardt

Tons and tons of stomach exercises, they work and the basic program starts slow.

If you just want to get into incredible fitness:

Maximum Fitness by Stewart Smith, former Seal

or for the easier version

http://www.sealchallenge.navy.mil/workout.htm

I blew my shoulder out after I did the first day of Maximum Fitness and never went back but it is fairly free of weights. If my shoulder comes back I'll probably revisit the Seal PT program.

For what it's worth there are a couple of books out there with a MA focus in terms of weightlifting. I've never seen one that I thought went very far in terms of meat. I'd much rather go direct to guys like Paris or Brungardt.
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Old 05-30-2002, 01:29 AM   #5
erikmenzel
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Re: Weight lifting and Aikido

Quote:
Originally posted by Miguel Cuevas
My only concern is that some of the literature have I read says that muscle mass is usually a no-no when it comes to aikido. I want greater hand and lower abdomen strength, along with a healthier body all around. Will weightlifting have a detrimental effect on my progression in aikido? If not, where could I learn about which excercises would best supplement my aikido training? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Only this weekend I was told something by Henry Kono Sensei, a direct student of O'Sensei, about this. (I will try to tell it as well as I remember, hoping not to distort to much what I was told, but I am not perfect, nor was I at the event discribed, so it probably will vary a little from what Henry Kono sensei told me.)
Quote:
At hombu dojo (in the sixties) there was a student (forgot his name) who said he would get strong and would go and pump iron. One morning he did and that afternoon he was training Aikido. O'Sensei threw him once and looked puzzled, threw him again and then said "You have been doing something else, something I didnt tell you. Stop it!"

Erik Jurrien Menzel
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Old 05-30-2002, 02:51 AM   #6
nikonl
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Ai symbol

I was told that weights are bad for your Aikido training because you tend to use your strength rather than your ki(muscling your way through difficult situations) during training. Is it not?

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Old 05-30-2002, 03:06 AM   #7
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by nikon
I was told that weights are bad for your Aikido training because you tend to use your strength rather than your ki(muscling your way through difficult situations) during training.
Most beginners do that anyway - no matter how well tuned their muscle mass is. If you made the point that a weight lifter would have a much harder time getting past strength since that was what he had been previously emphasizing I would tend to agree. I would also say that the big and bulky boys often loose muscle mobility and that definately works against your Aikido.

Strength is an important part of Aikido as Budo. Good technique is beyond strength but once your partner starts to resist a little bit of muscle goes a long way.

Great story Erik - of course our man Ueshiba M. spent a lot of time becoming strong like bull, eh?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-30-2002, 03:46 AM   #8
Jem8472
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Some of the students at my dojo were talking about this the other night and our Sensei joined in, he was saying that in Aikido you need fast felxable muscels. So some light weight training can be good but if you are looking to bulk up it will not help you training because you muscels will not have the speed because of their size.



Jeremy
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Old 05-30-2002, 08:07 AM   #9
SeiserL
 
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There are a lot of us who lift weights and study Aikido. The trick, IMHO, is not to confuse the two. Otherwise, you use your muscles to left your uke and throw your weights accross the room. Do them as two entirely different unrelated complimentary activities. The library is full of free books on both. Read away and make your own decision.

Until again,

Lynn
Nidan Tenshinkai Aikido
Lucaylucay Kali JKD

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 05-30-2002, 08:40 AM   #10
paw
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Lynn,

What do you mean by:
Quote:
Do them as two entirely different unrelated complimentary activities.
I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

Curious,

Paul
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Old 05-30-2002, 12:36 PM   #11
Miguel Cuevas
Dojo: Vineland Aikikia
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Thanks for your input, everyone. This is one of the major reasons I love aikido in general: everyone I ask for help or advice usually rushes up to help.
I think I will pick up some of the literature mentioned by Erik H. on the subject and scout out some local gyms, mainly to speak to the physical fitness trainers as Mayland Long did. I'm leaning towards a home gym set just so I can encourage my wife to excercise a bit with me also. Lean muscle mass with good flexibility is the way I do want to go. The consesus agrees with my sensei as to the positive efeects of weight training. Again, thank you so much everybody!
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Old 05-30-2002, 12:40 PM   #12
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jem8472
Some of the students at my dojo were talking about this the other night and our Sensei joined in, he was saying that in Aikido you need fast felxable muscels. So some light weight training can be good but if you are looking to bulk up it will not help you training because you muscels will not have the speed because of their size.
I don't agree with this. First, there has long been an idea in regards to weight training that you'll bulk up and won't be able to move. It's worth noting that it is incredibly difficult to achieve the kind of bulk people fear. Even hard-core body builders don't achieve that kind of bulk without help, extremely good genetics, years of effort or some combination of these. Chances are you don't have those genetics, aren't planning on shooting steriods and won't put in the years of solid effort required. It's hard to get really big.

Second, the idea that the size of the muscle does not equate to speed is also incorrect from what I know. In fact, it's the opposite. A larger muscle can be faster than a smaller muscle precisely because it can generate more force. Take a look at very high-caliber track and field sprinters and tell me they don't lift weights and aren't very well developed physically. Same thing with boxers and other athletes.

Third, as I mentioned before, a lot of those steriod enhanced body builders are actually more flexible than you think. The real question is whether they stretch or not.

Now if you want explosive power, such as for jumping, then you probably want to do some Plyometric exercises mixed in with your weight training but you would still want to do weight training.

This is an old argument and it's been around for decades and in it's broad form is incorrect. In a narrow form, if you just go toss iron around for instance, it may have some substance but even a basic solid weight training program using heavy weights (something different for each of us) will help.

I'll try and find some more links on this but here's one to start:

http://www.lifefitness.com/weight_li...g_exercise.asp

Last edited by Erik : 05-30-2002 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 05-30-2002, 01:48 PM   #13
Jonathan
Dojo: North Winnipeg Aikikai
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Well, as a former powerlifter who stills trains with weights regularly (though somewhat more mildly), I can tell you that what physical bulk I have has not been a particular hindrance to my Aikido. I was told by a yondan once that I would never reach shodan if I continued to work out at the gym. Presently, I am closing in on sandan.

The only trouble that i have in Aikido from weightlifting is very stiff shoulders. When sensei applies nikyo osae it is very unpleasant. I am working to develop greater flexibility in this joint, but it is slow going.

I would wholeheartedly recommend weightlifting. If I'm going to be impeded by bulk i'd rather it was muscle than fat!

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 05-30-2002, 03:13 PM   #14
KevinK
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My first post, so be gentle...

I have experimented with this several times at different ranks and have found the following (in general for me):

1)Compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups (Bench Press, Squats, etc.) are preferable to Isolation exercises (Concentration Curls, Lateral Raises, etc.).

2)Higher repetitions with 'lower' weight versus Lower repetitions with 'higher' weight.

I found this worked better for "me" because I noticed a bad side effect from heavy training. My muscle memory changed. When I met heavy resistance from partners it wanted to muscle it like lifting heavy weights instead of re-directing and moving fluidly. Again this might just be me, but I have been able to reproduce it several times over several years. Just like any training, the need for close observation to see how it affects you and how to improve is vital.
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Old 06-03-2002, 12:47 PM   #15
AtomicGrooves
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Quote:
Originally posted by paw
Lynn,

What do you mean by:


I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

Curious,

Paul
Paw, I'm new to Aikido too! (newer than any one here I suspect...I'm at it for less than a month! but I've devoured a bunch of books on the subject before stepping up and getting with a Dojo.) Maybe what he means is that you wouldn't relax and try to lift. Lifting weights is about tension. Using Ki is about being loose and flexible. The stuff I've read seems to suggest that when muscles are tight Ki flows less than when they are loose.

Help anybody? If I'm far from the mark I'd certainly like to know! Being the new cat on the block!

-Atomic

The secret of life is one!-CitySlickers
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Old 06-03-2002, 12:54 PM   #16
AtomicGrooves
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Quote:
Originally posted by KevinK
My first post, so be gentle...


1)Compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups (Bench Press, Squats, etc.) are preferable to Isolation exercises (Concentration Curls, Lateral Raises, etc.).

-Kevin are you talking about a more full body workout with a range of exercises covering the entire body?-


2)Higher repetitions with 'lower' weight versus Lower repetitions with 'higher' weight.

-Higher reps like 8+ reps per set with enought rest time for muscles?-


I found this worked better for "me" because I noticed a bad side effect from heavy training. My muscle memory changed. When I met heavy resistance from partners it wanted to muscle it like lifting heavy weights instead of re-directing and moving fluidly. Again this might just be me, but I have been able to reproduce it several times over several years. Just like any training, the need for close observation to see how it affects you and how to improve is vital.
-What you have to say about muscle memory is interesting I'll have to be mindful of that in my training and working out. Thanks-

-Atomic

-Atomic

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Old 06-03-2002, 02:01 PM   #17
paw
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Atomic,

Like Jonathon, I'm a former competitive powerlifter, so I obviously believe strength training has value.

I still haven't the slightest idea what Lynn means by "two .... unrelated complementary activities", but then again, I'm not the smartest bear in the woods.

IMO, if someone wants to strength train to improve aikido, of course it can be done, but one has to train properly (with the goal of improving their aikido firmly in mind).

<gets on soapbox>
The majority of strength/weight loss/health routines are focused on appearance NOT on improved functional performance. Most routines in magazines are based on bodybuilding routines and imply various machines/facilities and recommend different suppliments. That's not necessarily the way a particular athlete should prepare for the physical demands of their activity.
<leaves soapbox>

As an example, powerlifters often refer to bodybuilders as having a body "for show, not for go" (in other words, bodybuilders look like they are in fantastic shape, but simply do not have the explosive strength or limit strength as powerlifters. Neither group would fare well in swimming/gymnastics/running etc.... Decide what you want and train for it.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 06-03-2002, 05:56 PM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Greetings all,

"two entirely different unrelated activities"

IMHO, when you lift weights (and I do), then lift weights. It is a different activity than Aikido. Lifting weights uses tensions to gain muscle mass and strength. Aikido is relaxed and uses technical proficiency (and Ki) for its power.

I do bring my Aikido training into my weight lifting. I try to keep my body relaxed except for the muscle group I am lifting with. I try to extend my technique (and Ki) through visualization. I exhale on execution.

I try not to bring my weight lifting into my Aikido. Since I an big (6'4", 215) I have always tended to use my size as power. I try not to do that in my Aikido. I try to stay relaxed and let the waza (and Ki) flow.

All I meant was that they are different actiities with different end goals and that maybe it isn't the wisest to weight lift with the goal of improving your Aikido.

IMHO, there is some cross over benefits especially in the area of conditioning mentally and phyiscally. My training mates enjoy honing their waza on "the big guy", since they figure if they can make it work on me, then they can make it work. I give them enough resistance to not give them the technique but not enough to resist and be a jerk.

My Sensei (Sensei Phong)is very small and enjoys demonstrating Aikido's effectiveness against a man of my size and strength. He is in the July Black Belt Magazine and recently demonstrated at the Aiki Expo in Las Vegas.

Lastly, my comment was followed by humor. If you mix up Aikido and weight lifting you might lift your uke and throw your weights. A joke that has to be explained just isn't funny any more. Sorry for the confusion.

Until again,

Lynn

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 06-04-2002, 08:08 PM   #19
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Although im new to Aikido, i have noticed how weight lifting has hindered my performance during a learning session. I know many aikidoka have a problem with keeping their shoulders lowered and relaxed, but weight lifting has seemed to make it worse for me. If you are organized properly, I believe both weight lifting and Aikido can be done together. I would recommend not weight training on the days that you are going to Aikido, and make sure you stretch all muscle groupings until they feel loose before and after you weight train. The problem with weight training is that it leaves you sore and stiff for the follow few days, so a good stretching routine can greatly improve your ability to perform well in Aikido.

Also, follow Lynn Seiser's advice. => Great post!
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Old 06-05-2002, 10:03 AM   #20
Edward
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Well, please don't misunderstand me, but why do you have to lift weights. Aikido is almost impossible to master in one's life time, so why don't you practice instead of wasting your time doing weights. I myself practice 6 days a week, sometimes 7. During public holidays, I do bokken suburi and jo kata at home. If you think your arms need strengthening, why don't you try doing 1000 suburi ichi with your bokken, and let me know the result

If weight lifting is your hobby, then it's a different story, but if you wanna do it to get better in aikido, well, there is only one way: practice aikido, as many hours a day as you can. Our shihans and teachers had to practice over 7 hours a day to reach their level of efficiency and they're still not perfect.

Just my opinion.
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Old 06-05-2002, 11:16 AM   #21
REK
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Despite being a weightlifter for ten years before starting Aikido, I want to second the recommendation that Erik H. gave. I have done all the Stew Smith SEAL programs. I can assure you that weight training would have been redundant if you can make it through those programs. I think I should point out that the two trainings (PT versus free weights) prepare your muscles in different ways. Although I maxed out at over 600 pushups, I doubt my benchpress was impressive.

I think the reason why so many discourage "muscle building" in Aikido is because there is a tendency for people not to give equal thoughtfulness to stretching/flexibility/relaxation. The power and/or explosive contractions of weight training don't translate well into ki no nagare techniques. Not all people are like this, of course. But many people in my dojo (myself included) have failed to create a good balance b/n strength building and relaxed flexibility, making their movements jerky, positioning stiff and joints virtually immobile. I believe the combination can be done correctly, but I don't personally know how.

Rob

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Old 06-05-2002, 11:52 AM   #22
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by REK
Despite being a weightlifter for ten years before starting Aikido, I want to second the recommendation that Erik H. gave. I have done all the Stew Smith SEAL programs. I can assure you that weight training would have been redundant if you can make it through those programs. I think I should point out that the two trainings (PT versus free weights) prepare your muscles in different ways. Although I maxed out at over 600 pushups, I doubt my benchpress was impressive.
You are a better man than I. Those are serious workouts.

Quote:
I think the reason why so many discourage "muscle building" in Aikido is because there is a tendency for people not to give equal thoughtfulness to stretching/flexibility/relaxation. The power and/or explosive contractions of weight training don't translate well into ki no nagare techniques. Not all people are like this, of course. But many people in my dojo (myself included) have failed to create a good balance b/n strength building and relaxed flexibility, making their movements jerky, positioning stiff and joints virtually immobile. I believe the combination can be done correctly, but I don't personally know how.
One of the reasons I liked and included the NBA book is that basketball is a sport that requires touch and they include weight training. My understanding is that they deal with it by having a complete program. So while a professional level program will include weight training 3 times a week they probably spend the remaining 75 to 90 percent of their time on other aspects (plyometrics, running, shooting drills, etc). I suspect that what happens with us is that we show up to class 3 times a week, lift weights 3 times a week, and wind up with a 50/50 ratio or worse. Plus, I'm not sure how good a stretching program most of us have. I know I tend to slack on it.

I'll also contend that if you had asked a professional athlete 30 years ago about weights and their use you would have heard a lot of the same answers you hear in the Aikido community. Today, everyone from bowlers and golfers to football (the not round kind of ball) players use weights.
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Old 06-05-2002, 06:31 PM   #23
Bruce Baker
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strength training

There are many goals to building one's body, many times it is the repetition that builds the strength and speed over larger quantities of weight.

Eventually the muscles atrophy with old age, and to maintain the muscle structure of a sculpted weightlifter is nearly impossible.

Most of your static exercises, such as pushups/squatthrusts/ kneebends are the key to stretching and strength. If you can lift 50 lbs 200 times verses lifting 200 lbs ten times, which do you think will benefit the body? My experience is that the higher repetitions create a much stronger body.

If you think that lifting heavy weights will give you strength, it will ... for a few years.

For my money, and strength that always surprises the buff weight lifter, you need to increase your aerobic and static strength.

(Static being the equal increase of small muscles such as muscles used in ballet stretches and repetitive tasks, not the reference to being still or dynamic tension.)
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Old 06-05-2002, 11:28 PM   #24
Miguel Cuevas
Dojo: Vineland Aikikia
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Ok, now I'm starting to worry a bit. My gradual improvement in aikido is by far the most important thing to me in this discussion, but at the same time I want a higher metabolism and greater abdominal strength. A leaner, healthier, and ,yes, more attractive body is important to me (and to my wife ), but not at the expense of my ability to improve my aikido.

As to why I don't practice everyday... well I do practice everyday. The weightlifting would be a supplemental role, not a primary one. Between sets I would practice a bit, doing some basic aikido excercises. I haven't really put the training schedule together, but that's kind of my little idea. I intend to practice every day, head to the dojo 4 days a week, and lift for 3, with light weights ONLY, after some serious stretching and breathing excercises. My aikido comes first! I'm thinking of maybe dedicating 1 day to some basic breathing excercises, because from what I've read that's a great way to develop your ki. Ki in and of itself is little tough for me to come to grips with, especially when it comes to it's devolpment. But alas, that would be a topic for another thread.

"The true way of the Martial Arts is to train so that these skills are useful at any time, and to teach these skills so that they will be useful in all things."
-Shinmen Musashi
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Old 06-06-2002, 05:04 AM   #25
paw
Join Date: Mar 2002
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Miguel,

I don't blame you. There are a number of contradictory posts on this.

I honestly think you would be better served in posting this question (albeit in a more generic form) to one of the strength and conditioning discussion groups on the web. Or if you have the time and resources, start educating yourself (the books Erik recommended would be a good start) and find a qualified personal trainer who will help you meet your goals.

I regret not giving this advice when I first posted.

That's it, I'm done with this thread.

Regards,

Paul
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