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Old 03-13-2012, 03:00 PM   #1
Zoe S Toth
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Circle Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Hello all,

We had a Sensei yesterday teach us Ukemi for the whole 2 hour training period. It was amazing- and very level specific- so I found myself finally getting in a high breakfall practice that I wanted to do for months. The second class did something similar for half the time and then went back to regular technique practice for the other hour.

With my first summer seminar just 10 weeks away, I'm slightly worried now. Two full days of training is starting to sound...daunting. Especially as I sit here slightly sore from yesterday's work out.

This has raised three questions for me:

1. How fit does one has to be to do Aikido? We have practitioners here in their 30s with simply amazingly muscled bodies and then on the flip side other folks who are in theirs 60s/70s and still doing it. The question here is does the first type of person have the ability to access more of Aikido than the later.

2. How fit do you have to be to do a full day of Aikido? I assume you have to pace yourself and not spend all your energy at once. I also know all the techniques are not going to require a breakfall to survive. Good ukemi would help greatly here as well.

3. What type of fitness is needed for Aikido? At the higher levels (ie black belts doing randori) I can see the need for anaerobic capacity. But most of the time I'd guess aerobic. Is this correct?

Thanks,
Zoë S. Toth

Last edited by Zoe S Toth : 03-13-2012 at 03:01 PM. Reason: Spotted a gammar error!
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:36 PM   #2
grondahl
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Zoe Toth wrote: View Post
1. How fit does one has to be to do Aikido?
Not fit at all, but having a solid base makes practice more pleasant and allows you to focus on the content instead of thinking how you are going to survive until the next break.

Quote:
2. How fit do you have to be to do a full day of Aikido?
Se above. Usually seminars also focus more on qualitative aspects rather than doing a lot of breakfalls. Having good relaxed ukemi and the ability to breakfall is of course nice to have anyway.

Quote:
3. What type of fitness is needed for Aikido? At the higher levels (ie black belts doing randori) I can see the need for anaerobic capacity. But most of the time I'd guess aerobic. Is this correct?
Strength: Strong core and legs and and at least decent upper body strength. The part about anaerobic and aerobic fitness is not a either/or question. You need both and better aerobic capacity means that you can train with higher intensity before the anaerobic system kicks in.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:42 PM   #3
Jon Haas
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Zoe Toth wrote: View Post
3. What type of fitness is needed for Aikido? At the higher levels (ie black belts doing randori) I can see the need for anaerobic capacity. But most of the time I'd guess aerobic. Is this correct?
Hi Zoe,

I don't train in Aikido so I'll limit myself to answering question #3. For general fitness, I'd say that yes, a good aerobic base is necessary. However, the specific pattern of burst-recover-burst that usually characterizes any type of randori engagement requires a more targeted approach training the anaerobic energy system.

Check out this article here for a good energy system overview and specifics on the Tabata Protocol which is great for training that burst-recover-burst for randori practice.

Hope that helps!

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Old 03-13-2012, 04:22 PM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

As a middle aged person with joint issues, I will say that I have no choice but to pace myself, but I have finally learned to accept this and make no big deal about choosing to sit out anywhere from a 10 minute technique segment to an hour long class during a seminar.
For anybody, I would say being as fit as you can, however you define "can," is a good thing! For aikido, core strength and good structure is more important than upper body strength. And being able to bring things down to YOUR breathing rhythm and pace is, to me, an important ability to develop - it isn't something to think you can easily do in a randori, but certainly in general partner practice and jiyuwaza it is an acheivable goal that helps you pace yourself.

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:33 PM   #5
chillzATL
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

1. as fit as you want to be. Do you want to be more fit and as a result, more capable? That will kind of dictate how you train.

2. ukemi shouldn't be what tires you out, ukemi should be the break! Having to work hard to do the techniques is what should wear you out. In the end you're not going to have to do more than you want to do. Our summer camp is 7 full days of training in the southern heat, 100+ temps, no A/C and we don't have people falling out. You do what you can do, maybe push yourself a little, but be safe doing it. know your limits.

3. again, what do you want out of your training? Figure that out and you should know what kind of fitness level you need.
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Old 03-13-2012, 05:01 PM   #6
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Fitness needed for Aikido? Define "fitness".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUFu5hlstI

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Old 03-13-2012, 06:10 PM   #7
Janet Rosen
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Fitness needed for Aikido? Define "fitness".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUFu5hlstI
And I was going to post this one....
http://youtu.be/kaz9vTHW-C0

Janet Rosen
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:58 PM   #8
chillzATL
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Fitness needed for Aikido? Define "fitness".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUFu5hlstI
oh my.
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Old 03-14-2012, 12:25 AM   #9
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

nice video Janet

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Old 03-14-2012, 12:26 AM   #10
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

To the op....it depends on what u want to do, age, and physicality,, and limitations. It is all about priorities.

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Old 03-14-2012, 12:52 AM   #11
Alic
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

As Shioda Gozo would often say: the time to train is when you're too tired to train

Man, this is a really difficult topic. Let me break it down in a bits... but prepare for a wall of text!

Personally, I'm the least fit person in my dojo, being slight touch overweight and not very athletic. Aikido was the first physical activity that I've seriously picked up, and I'm practically starting fresh from that. Sensei likes it, since I'll be building my muscle groups based entirely upon Aikido's needs and nothing else, so no useless bulging muscles to slow my movements down.

Sensei told me personally that in Yoshinkan, the basic movements and the techniques will quickly build up the needed muscles, tendons, and flexibility when done repeatedly. Koho ukemi will strengthen the core, and push ups will build upper body. There's various other exercises for muscle building, but they're not really stressed upon.

Rather than pure power, it seems that we need to focus on endurance of the muscles, so that we don't tire even after long battles. Since we use uke's power anyways, we don't need a whole lot of raw might, and that'll help cut down on mass, which would also slow us down. Slim muscles with power and endurance is what's needed.

To answer your questions:

1. Not very fit at all, you can start fresh off the couch. Just work on your aerobic abilities and build up muscle endurance. Focus on proper form and balance is more important than fitness, and you will gain it naturally anyhow.

2. They want you to be too tired to even move. That's when the actual teaching begins, and by extension, your actual training time. A full day of training will tired everyone, that's what it's meant to do. Just go along with it. Remember: Spirit! That is more important than not being tired no matter what. Feel free to use up all your energy, and then try to stand up and run to sensei when being called, even if you actually can only stumble your way there. The will to push yourself beyond your abilities will make you stronger, and your sensei prouder. I'm sure you can get someone to carry you home afterwards.

3. Proper breathing will enable for good aerobic activity even during rigourous training. O-sensei was able to keep himself at almost 100% aerobic. Anaerobic muscle activity will cause lactic acid burn, something you don't want to happen as that'll decrease your performance greatly. Take breaks in the action as much as possible by not doing useless movements and being efficient with strength is what I'm told as key points.
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:00 AM   #12
dalen7
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
To the op....it depends on what u want to do, age, and physicality,, and limitations. It is all about priorities.
Indeed...

To the original poster check out Eddie Bravo on flexibility then watch some of his rubber guard moves.
It gives him an edge in BJJ.
http://youtu.be/OktcKhtMQ88

Of course it is all up to you what you want to get out of it, the better shape you can [are able to] be in will make you feel better all around.

Peace

Dalen

p.s.
You dont happen to be Hungarian, we have a ton of "Toth" surnames here.

dAlen [day•lynn]
dum spiro spero - {While I have breathe - I have hope}

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Old 03-14-2012, 02:40 AM   #13
Alec Corper
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Not to start the same old discussions but it does depend on what you mean by doing "Aikido".
1. just going through the motions- not fit at all
2 Doing waza and taking ukemi at high speed and intensity- good stamina, flexibility and core muscular development
3. As combat system-high level conditioning minimum 3 hrs a day 5 days a week
4. internal art- mental stamina, internal awareness, sensitivity to fascial activity, ting jin

I'm like Janet, almost 60 with a hip due for replacement, still train 3 times a week and go to gym once or twice, aim to be as fit as I can , within my limitations. my training attitude varies between all 4 dependent upon pain, partners and possibilities. I would add however that, in my experience, aikido people tend to be the least fit amongst serious martial artists, unfortunately, because it is often not clear wether we are practicing a "martial" art, or an "art" martial.
respect

If your temper rises withdraw your hand, if your hand rises withdraw your temper.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:32 AM   #14
lbb
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Alic Xie wrote: View Post
3. Proper breathing will enable for good aerobic activity even during rigourous training. O-sensei was able to keep himself at almost 100% aerobic. Anaerobic muscle activity will cause lactic acid burn, something you don't want to happen as that'll decrease your performance greatly. Take breaks in the action as much as possible by not doing useless movements and being efficient with strength is what I'm told as key points.
I think this needs a little elaboration. You can't just decide to do an activity aerobically vs. anaerobically; that is determined by the energy demand of the activity that you are doing. When the energy demand exceeds what your aerobic system can supply, your body has to generate it anaerobically. Proper breathing definitely helps to make your aerobic system more efficient, as does aerobic conditioning -- that's why (as a couple people have mentioned or alluded to) you should develop a foundation of aerobic conditioning before you try to work on anaerobic conditioning. But no amount of aerobic conditioning or breathing techniques will rid your body of the need for anaerobic energy production during times of high energy demand.
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:25 AM   #15
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

As a competitive Jiu Jitsu player I train both aerobically and anaerobically. Aerobics are important in jiu jitsu, but anaoerobic capacity is more key. Trying to increase the threshold to tolerate oxygen debt and management of your body understand stress is key to success. It was very apparent when I was in JOburg South Africa last week training at a higher altitude than I normally live at.

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Old 03-14-2012, 10:34 AM   #16
Walter Martindale
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

As your skill level improves it may be accompanied by a concurrent increase in physical fitness. Essentially, the more you know, the fitter you'll be. NOT through some form of magic that comes from knowing stuff, but from the amount of physical activity you will have done during the acquisition of the knowledge. (and, I'm not necessarily referring to conscious level knowledge - more at the conditioned response level)
As you get fitter, you'll be able to do more in training/practice, and as you do more, you'll get fitter.

This also depends on your past fitness/activity background. I started Aikido in a condition that allowed me to out muscle most people in most dojo (JH of Winnipeg being one I couldn't muscle), gained through years of competitive training in judo and rowing. As a result, I could last through a day-long seminar with lots of people much more highly ranked in aikido beating me up quite regularly even though I didn't really know much technique. (that kind of training would likely kill me now, though, age is insidious)

Keep at it, your fitness will improve. If you want more fitness, while a lot of folks on this forum are critical of Steven Seagal sensei, one of his movies has him recovering from a coma (remember, folks, it was just a movie) and including in his training running up a hill carrying a log. You can do a lot of stuff with things that are lying around in your environment.. I used to do a lot of stair running, pull-ups, rope climbing, and 3-4 hour-long bike rides, so I could be fit enough for either judo or rowing (so THAT'S why I'm getting so fat these days, not doing all that stuff)... Long walks, running, intervals up and down hills, swimming, and all kinds of things will supplement your fitness so that the aikido training stresses you less physically, and you'll be more able to enjoy the skills you're learning...
Cheers,
W
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:42 AM   #17
Alic
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I think this needs a little elaboration. You can't just decide to do an activity aerobically vs. anaerobically; that is determined by the energy demand of the activity that you are doing. When the energy demand exceeds what your aerobic system can supply, your body has to generate it anaerobically. Proper breathing definitely helps to make your aerobic system more efficient, as does aerobic conditioning -- that's why (as a couple people have mentioned or alluded to) you should develop a foundation of aerobic conditioning before you try to work on anaerobic conditioning. But no amount of aerobic conditioning or breathing techniques will rid your body of the need for anaerobic energy production during times of high energy demand.
Totally agree. I guess it wasn't written clear enough. So in the spirit of being more accurate:

Anaerobic activity will happen for sure, especially during moments of exertion. The key to success is to keep breathing well by having good posture to promote lung expansion, and controlled combat breathing in order to maximize aerobic activity to reduce rate of muscle fatigue. To further improve combat effectiveness, it's important not to move around unnecessarily and reduce how much strength is required for techniques used

Your muscles will do what it has to do to fulfill your mind's commands. Therefore, the important control points are located at the mental level. Improving fitness is important, but so is knowing how to conserve energy whilst fighting.

This is why Shioda said that the best time to train is when you're too train. You cannot rely on strength and fitness when that tired, so you'll have to learn how to fight effectively and efficiently while tired to reduce energy consumption. This lets you learn how minimize using lots of energy to compensate for less than perfect technique. This is why masters who are old and no longer have their youthful vigour can still last much longer than you do: they've learn how to make the most out of their limited tank.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:13 AM   #18
grondahl
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Alic Xie wrote: View Post
This is why Shioda said that the best time to train is when you're too train. You cannot rely on strength and fitness when that tired, so you'll have to learn how to fight effectively and efficiently while tired to reduce energy consumption. This lets you learn how minimize using lots of energy to compensate for less than perfect technique. This is why masters who are old and no longer have their youthful vigour can still last much longer than you do: they've learn how to make the most out of their limited tank.
It could also be because they have a big tank to start with (and that they usally dont take a lot of ukemi).

Here is a quote from a interview with Hiroshi Tada
Quote:
Aikidojournal.com wrote:
Personal training is important no matter what art you practice. You should create your own training program, starting with running. In my twenties and into my thirties I used to get up at 5:30 every morning and run about fifteen kilometers. When I finished that I went home and practiced striking a bundle of sticks with a bokken
A clip of Tada from 2010. Amazing energy from a 81 year old.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vroFPHzPAGk
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:06 PM   #19
lars beyer
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

I think as fit as these guys

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI4Mqb5_jJU

But maybe less would do as well.. for me at least.
learning to breathe proberly saves me some sweat..
as well as kiai

Regards
Lars
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:32 PM   #20
amoeba
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

I was worried about that before joining my first whole week of Aikido - actually it turned out to be quite nice and seemed less physically demanding than some classes I'd had before. Maybe because you really don't have anything else to do or worry about, so you've got a whole lot of energy available for the training. And if you need to go slow, just grab a nice beginner for the next technique...
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:43 PM   #21
Mario Tobias
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Alissa Götzinger wrote: View Post
I was worried about that before joining my first whole week of Aikido - actually it turned out to be quite nice and seemed less physically demanding than some classes I'd had before. Maybe because you really don't have anything else to do or worry about, so you've got a whole lot of energy available for the training. And if you need to go slow, just grab a nice beginner for the next technique...
You get tired in Aikido normally if you are the UKE, not NAGE. You get easily tired from taking ukemi especially if you train with a nage with higher intensity. The first ones to go are the knees, the abdominal area and the arms.

If you get tired as nage, then you are doing something wrong.

The secret to doing a hundreds of ukemi in a single session is pretty simple: Keep as low as possible and as near to the ground before rolling unless the throw is quick that you have to go asap. We are constantly kept being reminded of this but a lot of us always keep forgetting and not doing it.

We have warm-up sessions that include doing 50-60 continuous front rolls before the actual class. In order for you to last, meet the mat as close as possible, do not start the roll at standing height, otherwise most likely you won't last. Over time, you'll build endurance.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 03-26-2012 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:50 PM   #22
Benjamin Green
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Quote:
Zoe Toth wrote: View Post
1. How fit does one has to be to do Aikido? We have practitioners here in their 30s with simply amazingly muscled bodies and then on the flip side other folks who are in theirs 60s/70s and still doing it. The question here is does the first type of person have the ability to access more of Aikido than the later.
Yes and no. If the 70 year old is your usual frail 70 year old, well the younger person's just being nice by making their boxing imbalanced enough for the older person to pull or push them off balance. Even with last generation of masters some of their students have been heard to comment (at least after they were dead) that, effectively, you can't just stomp the old fella.

On the other hand you get some old women in parts of the world who take tourists up the side of mountains carrying massive packs. So there're huge individual differences.

Aikido tends to exploit the transitional periods, the times when the boxer is moving in a convenient direction and is consequently weak. But it's possible, especially for younger people vs older people, for them to have moved so fast that by the time you see that opening developing they've already returned to guard.

So in a fighting sense, the old person may just not be able to use their Aikido.

Quote:
Zoe Toth wrote: View Post
2. How fit do you have to be to do a full day of Aikido? I assume you have to pace yourself and not spend all your energy at once. I also know all the techniques are not going to require a breakfall to survive. Good ukemi would help greatly here as well.
It depends on the stakes. High-stakes attacks; fast, strong, off a decent stance with a very small window of opportunity to do any sort of counter; are incredibly tiring. But very few people train like that continually. In my experience, most Aikdo practitioners don't know how to train like that at all.

Which isn't much against them, boxing's just not often a significant part of their art.

If you're with a relatively relaxed group, then about the most tiring thing you'll do will be getting up from the floor.

Couldn't comment on the last thing.

Last edited by Benjamin Green : 03-26-2012 at 09:52 PM.
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:01 AM   #23
ryback
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

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Walter Martindale wrote: View Post

while a lot of folks on this forum are critical of Steven Seagal sensei, one of his movies has him recovering from a coma (remember, folks, it was just a movie) and including in his training running up a hill carrying a log. You can do a lot of stuff with things that are lying around in your environment..
W
There are stories of course about O'Sensei doing things like that when he wanted to become more physically fit.I admire Steven Seagal sensei a lot but as you said this is just a movie where he is trying to recover from an extreme situation in a short time period.So we also see him weight lifting in the movie, something that is not right for aikido practitioners since it makes the upper body tense and blocks the flow of ki.In my opinion the traditional Jubi udo(not sure about the spelling) a series of exercises that get you "in touch" with your body(including stretching,breathing exercises,energy "channels" stimulation,e.t.c)is the most apropriate for one to be fit in aikido.Still, in the early movies of Steven Seagal sensei one can see one of the best aikido applications in real fights,but they are action movies and have to be attractive to the western mind.Fitness for aikido is another story...
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Old 03-27-2012, 02:41 AM   #24
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

Yannis Mousoulis wrote:



Quote:
So we also see him weight lifting in the movie, something that is not right for aikido practitioners since it makes the upper body tense and blocks the flow of ki
Can you explain how weight lifing blocks the flow of ki and why it is not right for aikido practicioners?

Specificially what do you mean by weightlifting? There are alot of different methodlogies our there that are applied in varioous ways.

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Old 03-27-2012, 03:29 AM   #25
Walter Martindale
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Re: Fitness needed for Aikido [Help Requested]

I've always had trouble with understanding the "muscle is bad for you" philosophy behind "don't do weight lifting for aikido" (and I heard it in judo, too, long ago".

It depends a bit on how you're lifting and what you're doing. If you sit on the edge of a bench and do four inch (10 cm) curls with huge weights to get "Arnold" biceps, sure, that's of questionable value to whole body movement, balance, stability, and so on. If, however, you stand on a Bosu or a "swiss ball" and do squats with dumbbells in your hands, (which I have done in the past), or swing kettlebells, or do power movements with bars using your whole body, it contributes to your overall fitness and makes you physically robust. Not necessarily "stiff" - it is, after all, possible to stretch. You can tolerate hard workouts. It is, of course, difficult to "not use muscle" after you build up some strength, but so what? If you're able to raise your arm in front of you while holding a 10 kg weight, and moving on the "correct path" and "flowing with ki" doesn't need 100 N of force (the force required to move 10 kg approx.) so what?
You end up not looking like Kisshomaru, and the aikido you do may be different because you're moving a bit more of your own mass, but there's no reason not to be mobile and flexible even if you're strong. You do, also, have a strength reserve. Strength training is/should be a supplement to aikido, not a replacement for it. You can still learn to move without "forcing" things, but you can force things if necessary. It requires more sensitivity to when you're using movement and when you're using muscle...
Long story cut short. gotta get to work - oops it's 5:30 AM, I'm going to be late..
W
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