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Old 06-23-2003, 06:00 PM   #1
Kyle
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Flexibility Training

Hello all, My name is Kyle Krysik. I am a 17 yar old with a keen interest in the warrior lifestyle, and particular attraction to Aikido and various sword arts in particular, though my under-developed area provides only a lack of training sources. For now I am gaining a primative knowledge of the arts, and have recently begun strongly getting into the proper training of my body in general terms. My first concern is with flexibility and speed. I wish to learn about te very best methods for me to gain what I need for my body and future lifestyle. In particular, I am wondering if Yoga, an such things are very beneficial to someone in my situation. Are there practices like the previously stated that will truely be in my best interest as one seeking speed and flexibility? Or,are there simply specific methods that should be employed, such as crtan stretching. Who else can I approach wth my questions; personal trainers, martial arts instructors, athletic authorities? Any comments on the subject are much appreciated, as I come here knowing that thre is no doubt a wealth of knowledge and experience with the readers. Thank You.
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Old 06-23-2003, 07:07 PM   #2
Kevin Wilbanks
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Many martial artists have good things to say about Pavel Tsatsouline's book "Beyond Stretching". I have some serious questions about some of his claims and his writing style, but it might be a good introduction to flexibility techniques beyond mere static stretching.

In my view, static, passive stretching is vastly overused and overrated, especially by martial artists. In fact, I think the need for flexibility itself is often overemphasized as some kind of unqualified good, whereas the importance of stability and strength is underappreciated.

For me, there are many important questions to ask before engaging in a stretch or stretching program: Do I need the range of motion that I am trying to achieve in this limb for anything specific? If not, why go there? Will the type of stretch I am doing actually be of benefit in the situation in which I use the ROM? I think that if you ask these questions, you find most passive, static stretching goes out the window. One of the things one can learn from good yoga is that often lack of functional range of motion at a joint is more about strength and alignment than lengthening "tight" muscles.

As far as martial arts go, I think no out-of-the-ordinary flexibility is required for Aikido and sword arts. Groundfighting and kicking arts are a different matter...

Training for speed doesn't necessarily have any connection to flexibility either. If you want to move fast, learn about Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, and other ways to develop speed-strength. In fact, for both functional flexibility and speed, you could do worse than to seek out a qualified weightlifting coach or club in your area: http://www.usaweightlifting.org/usaw_reg_clubs.html Taking up sprinting and/or other track and field events is another idea.
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Old 06-23-2003, 10:28 PM   #3
Qatana
 
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well not to negate Kevin's opinion or anything-for flexibility-yoga.

Yoga is not about turning yourself inside out or tying yourself up in knots-unless that's important to you.Or becoming hyper extended or any of the other things people who don't practice it think it's about.

A good yoga teacher cares only about proper alignment, proper temperature and proper technique.I know yoga teachers who can't touch their own toes, but they sure can teach!

If you go into a yoga studio and its air-conditioned, leave immediately.Conversely, if its heated up to 100 degrees with a humidifyer running,unless you really enjoy sliding around in your own sweat and tripping in the puddles when you're trying to balance, don't go there.

For style i'll always recommend Iyengar style. It doesn't seem to have the 'granola eaters attitude" that many peple around here seem to object to.And it will strenghthen you as you are working with or against your entire body weight.Just because you're not "moving" doesn't mean it is a passive exercise.

Kevin does have a point in that Aikido really doesn't really require flexibility, but flexibility can certainly help your ukemi and yoga can help you find your center and to relax more deeply.

Just remember the only body you should be concerned with is your own. Yoga, like Aikido, is not a competitive sport. Just pay attention to what is happening for you and let the show-offs do their own thing.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 06-23-2003, 10:49 PM   #4
Kevin Wilbanks
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I have nothing against good yoga, although I think it may be pretty hard to find, especially now that yoga and pilates have become as pervasive as McDonalds. The yoga I studied and found valuable was also Iyengar, although the teacher I had had kind of gone his own way to some extent.

Overall, though, I think yoga can never be more than one piece of the puzzle, and in most cases not the most important one. There is plenty going on in yoga in terms of flexibility and mobility and postural benefits. However, when it comes to preparation for sports/martial arts, there is plenty missing: development of maximal strength and hypertrophy, especially in the lower body, can only go so far without the addition of weights. In terms of muscle movements, yoga is mostly static, isometric or quasi-isometric, whereas more general and specific preparation for sports demands training with more movement, all the way up to explosive resisted movement. Systemically, yoga is of little use, and one needs additional aerobic and anaerobic endurance training both for overall health and to be prepared for most activities.

I wouldn't dissuade anyone from taking up yoga if I thought they had a good teacher, but - unless they had chronic misalignment/injury problems - it is far from the first additional activity I would recommend to someone looking to increase their fitness - for Aikido, or most any other sport or martial art.

Will yoga make you more flexible? Almost certainly, especially if your measure of flexibility is sitting around and seeing how much ROM you have. However, the question is: will this slo-mo ROM be of any use in dynamic contexts, and will it improve performance, injury resistance, or movement speed?

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 06-23-2003 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 06-24-2003, 12:18 AM   #5
Adrian Smith
 
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Quote:
Jo Adell (Qatana) wrote:
If you go into a yoga studio and its air-conditioned, leave immediately.Conversely, if its heated up to 100 degrees with a humidifyer running,unless you really enjoy sliding around in your own sweat and tripping in the puddles when you're trying to balance, don't go there.
I train at three dojos (same sensei, different nights) in Yokosuka, Kurihama, and Ootsu, all of which are roughly 60 km south of Tokyo. Last night in the dojo, with the windows open, it was almost 90 degrees with 100% humidity (it was raining, after all).

That being said, I can understand why it's important to have a moderate environment in which to train. It's just that some of us don't have that luxury. I usually lose 3-4 pounds of water volume in a good training session, but I don't mind. I'll take being able to train in Japan if it means losing a little weight every so often.

-drin
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Old 06-24-2003, 07:43 AM   #6
Kevin Wilbanks
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Personally, I'm skeptical about the temperature thing. I know that there is a fad of doing yoga in extreme heat, and there are plenty of silly claims made about the benefits of that. I certainly prefer not to do yoga in extreme hot or cold. But, human beings are adaptable to amazing functioning in all manner of environmental conditions. We're not hothouse flowers. The idea that anyone who practices yoga outside a specific, narrow temperature range is incompetent seems a little far fetched to me. Here in the Florida summer, a yoga studio without air conditioning would never stay in business. Hell... without air conditioning, hardly anyone would live here at all.

World-class athletes of all types train in everything from extreme heat to extreme cold... Once the body is in vigorous action, it seems to be able to self-regulate to anything between humid temperatures around 100F and amazingly cold ones. I even remember reviewing a study in a sport psych class in which military extreme cold water deep sea divers found that - given the proper psychological strategy - letting the body's homeostatic mechanisms compensate for the cold was superior to any kind of insulative gear.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 06-24-2003 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 06-24-2003, 08:26 AM   #7
Qatana
 
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hey my dojo is unheated or cooled unless someone remembers to haul the fans upstairs & install them. nobody is systematically turning up the heat to 90 on purpose. which is what i was objecting to. a yoga studio is not a dojo however, and IMO should be heated in winter and Not cooled in summer. for stretching muscles should be warm.

Sun salutations not aerobic? There are several yoga styles which move so fast you can't even get into the pose before you have to move again.

i believe the question was primarily regarding flexibility.And i don't believe i recommended yoga to the exclusion of other exercise practice. I personally do yoga, tai chi, ballet barre stuff, walk, weight train,pilates & abdominals. and Aikido.and yank weeds...

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:03 PM   #8
bob_stra
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
Many martial artists have good things to say about Pavel Tsatsouline's book "Beyond Stretching". I have some serious questions about some of his claims and his writing style, but it might be a good introduction to flexibility techniques beyond mere static stretching.
I would like to hear more of your views on this (Tsatsouline & stretching). Or are you referring to the KettleBell Cultism?
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Old 07-15-2003, 01:18 AM   #9
Kevin Wilbanks
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It would probably be prudent for me to actually read at least one of his books before launching a full critique. I read excerpts from one of his books and I found him using blustery hyperbole in a way that didn't make me want to look at him as a source of information. Plus, at least one thing he said about doing the splits was pretty crudely anatomically ignorant. The writing style reminded me of something out of T-Mag.

I am under the impression, however, that he advocates dynamic stretching techniques, which I like. In fact, they are the only kind of stretches I ever do to warm up and cool down surrounding workouts/training. They basically involve swinging the limbs and letting them 'bounce' a little at the end of the ROM when direction is changed, but not with great force. This is a lot more relevant to the kinds of things that the muscles and joints will do during activity than static, passive stretching, which is virtually irrelevant.

In fact, there is even a potential danger in having a large "gap" between the ROM in which you have active strength, and the extra bit which you can only achieve passively via prolonged application of force. For this reason, I think good ROM weight/bodyweight resistance exercises should be the primary general source of flexibility training. The idea is to avoid putting your limbs in awkward positions in which you don't have the strength to pull them back. Hence, for instance, heavy Romanian/Stiff-Leg Deadlifts are superior to virtually any 'hamstring stretch' for developing and maintaining useful extended knee hip flexion capability.

Lots of people justify contorting themselves into hypermobile positions by claiming that more ROM prevents injury in that without it a muscle might tear. As you might guess from the above, I think this is nonsense, and in fact this contradicts the whole principle of Aikido ukemi. If your arm gets pulled back, for instance, you don't just stand there and let it go further and further back as though you were a human noodle. Once the tension in the pectorals, front deltoids and the biceps builds up to a certain level, you move the rest of you body such that it can maintain an integral shape. The quality you want in those muscles for injury resistance isn't unlimited stretch/extensibility, the quality you want is strength - the strength to resist further extension of the limb, perhaps even enough to propel the rest of the body in an appropriately compensating direction.

I guess to summarize, I think it is much more important to have good postural, alignment, and movement habits, and to own the ROM that you have than to get more ROM. The exception would be explicitly defineable ROM defecits for performing particular tasks, such as needing added hip flexion range to perform high front kicks. If there's a clearly defined reason to get a particular ROM, then stretching protocols can be used to acheive it. Once you've got it, dynamic warmups and just plain using that motion range are all you need to maintain it.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 07-15-2003 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:39 AM   #10
opherdonchin
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I also liked Iyengar yoga and I agree with Kevin that too much focus on yoga can get in the way of really inhabiting your body. I also agree with Kevin that an excessive flexibility is unnecessary for Aikido (and even many other sports). On the other hand, I think the 'average person' is honestly too tight in certain areas to move effectively and that anything that loosens them up a little (including passive stretching) is probably a fine place to start.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 07-15-2003, 09:05 AM   #11
Qatana
 
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Have i mentioned that many people practice yoga who have absolutely no range of motion and outstanding postural integrity and balance?

Yes, hyper flexibility can effect ukemi. Ask anyone who has had to do an ikkyo or nikkyo pin on me. But my shoulders were just as loose before all the yoga...but try to do those pins on the 2 guys in my dojo with bodies like blocks of stone.

I never advocated going for extreme ROM. how about for muscular control? postural integrity? an aid to physical and mental relaxaton? another practice for letting go of the ego on the mat?

the original purpose of yoga was for training the mind to allow the body to sit in meditation for long periods of time. to be able to observe and sometimes correct physical discomfort without a mental or emotional investment in "getting it over with".It is not about attaining hyper flexibility, it is about testing and observing our limitations, it is about mental flexibility as well....

however if someone wants to make their body more flexible it sure can help.and the average person in this country could sure use a little flexibility.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 08-07-2003, 05:57 AM   #12
Mathias
 
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Hi Kyle

Besides Aikido i train Qi gong ( Nei yang gong)

It has helped me alot. Many of my dojo mates have told me that my technique got a lot softer since i started. I also find that my breathing and my center has improved greatly.

/ Mathias

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Old 08-07-2003, 08:45 AM   #13
paw
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Hmm.....
Quote:
However, the question is: will this slo-mo ROM be of any use in dynamic contexts, and will it improve performance, injury resistance, or movement speed?
An important question that is still unanswered --- at least on this thread.

Bob,
Quote:
I would like to hear more of your views on this (Tsatsouline & stretching). Or are you referring to the KettleBell Cultism?
Pavel has good, solid information. But it's nothing "earth shattering" (insofar as others haven't said the same things) and one does have to deal with Pavel's writing style.

Jo,
Quote:
Sun salutations not aerobic? There are several yoga styles which move so fast you can't even get into the pose before you have to move again.
That doesn't make sun salutations or such styles of yoga aerobic, per se. Aerobic activites are ones where the body stays in motion for 20 minutes or more with one's heart rate 60-90% of age specific maximal heart rate. Generally, this excludes many activites that people refer to as "aerobic".

I'd be interested in your thoughts on Yoga for grappling (although directed at "grappling" that doesn't discount the comments per se)

Regards,

Paul

edited for poor spelling
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Old 08-07-2003, 09:16 AM   #14
Kevin Wilbanks
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I don't know if my thoughts were solicited, but I'll just jam them in here anyway. I agree with the general thrust of the article: that yoga is good as a portion of the GPP, but doesn't constitute good SPP for grappling. This seems pretty obvious.

I do think that he is misrepresenting yoga styles to some extent when he calls them static, or says they are 'just like other static stretching'. The Iyengar style I practiced involved controlled movement between postures as well as static holds, and both had strength/stability components as well as stretching components.

Someone should get him an editor though, because some sentences are off-the-wall hilarious: "I twist, turn, and rotate in six dimensions.", and "create space between my vertebrae".

Also, an error: he claims that stretching can assist recovery. So far as I'm aware there is no evidence that stretching speeds or facilitates recovery.

Also, a Paul error: exercise doesn't need to last 20 minutes to be aerobic, that number comes from the American Heart Assoc. prescription for heart health. It's also a number tossed around as part of fat burning exercise prescriptions. In my book, the only thing required to qualify an exercise as aerobic is that it primarily uses the oxidative system for energy. This could include practically any activity that can be done continuously for more than a couple minutes, before which anaerobic systems provide a larger contribution.

Whether or not something qualifies as "exercise" - in that it will provide fitness benefits that carry over to sports or other activities - is another issue. Unless a specific carryover is in question, I think it would have to be subjective. You and I may think sun salutations don't qualify as aerobic EXERCISE, marathon runners and tour cyclists certainly wouldn't, but - so long as they aren't lying perfectly still - if yoga people do, I don't think there's any legitimate way to stop them.
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Old 08-07-2003, 09:36 AM   #15
paw
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Quote:
Also, a Paul error: exercise doesn't need to last 20 minutes to be aerobic, that number comes from the American Heart Assoc.
Really? I didn't know that. Well, that's the last time I listen to those clowns! (probably lying about that cholesterol thing too.....)

Regards,

Paul
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Old 08-07-2003, 12:12 PM   #16
Kevin Wilbanks
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If you mean ingested cholesterol, yes, that proscription has always been nonsense. There has never been any correlation between cholesterol eaten and blood levels, nor even any proposed mechanism whereby it would get from the GI tract to bloodstream. Remember, they also prescribed the stupid ultra-low-fat diet based on a few studies that showed marginal improvements on such a diet in people with severely excessive blood cholesterol. They also said to eat partially-hydrogenated oils instead of saturated ones... Actually, I'm not sure which of these are from the AHA and which from the AMA, but the list of problems goes on. So far as I know, they still haven't started prescribing resistance exercise, despite all the proven quality of life and injury prevention benefits.

Anyway, 20 minutes of aerobic exercise in a specified "target heart range" is their prescription for exercise for the purpose of reducing cadiopulmonary disease risks. Nothing more. I don't think it was ever meant to be a definition of aerobic exercise.
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Old 08-08-2003, 12:01 AM   #17
sanosuke
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go for aikido, i can do split strecth automatically after joining for about two months.
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Old 08-08-2003, 01:36 AM   #18
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
If you mean ingested cholesterol, yes, that proscription has always been nonsense. There has never been any correlation between cholesterol eaten and blood levels, nor even any proposed mechanism whereby it would get from the GI tract to bloodstream.
You sure about that.

I agree, it's been pretty much understood that our own body produces more cholesterol than we are likely to eat and there has to be something that accounts for elevated blood levels other than intake. I first learned about that over 20 years ago but true then as it is now - diet, among other things, does have an effect.

Mechanism?

http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20000905/01/

or

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/95/17/10194.pdf

There's a lot more there but I'ld have to dig deeper.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-08-2003, 07:14 AM   #19
Kevin Wilbanks
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I did not say that diet has no effect. There is no logical connection whatsoever between this generalization and what I said. I certainly don't understand the details of digestion on the level of those studies, but barring new information, I think I've got the gist: in humans eating cholesterol seems to have no net effect on blood cholesterol, whereas saturated fat does, insofar as it stimulates the liver to do so. Hence, susceptible individuals should limit their sat fat intake - but there is no such restriction on dietary cholesterol. I really don't think an athletic, healthy person needs to worry too much about eating cholesterol or saturated fat. Trans-fats, on the other hand, are a different issue. It appears that we shouldn't be eating these at all, yet for years doctors told us it was a healthful alternative to butter and animal fat, and a large portion of processed foods are still loaded with it.
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Old 08-09-2003, 12:26 AM   #20
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Hi Kevin;

The latter reference I included because it is a good starting point - ie. more references - for those that like that sort of thing. No need to follow them.

I did not say you did not say diet did not have an effect. I was making a comment on cholesterol in general.

What did inspire the post was the claim that the mechanism of cholesterol up-take is not know. Like all science there are questions and when those are answered there will be more questions. However, a lot is known and the first reference is again a good starting point.

I actually did notice the upsurge in the popular press on the "new" findings on cholesterol. The best article I found (by chance) was in Der Spiegel. It was detailed and well written but nothing particularily new. Mind you I recently spent two years working on sex-steroid biosynthesis which involves cholesterol metabolism so it would have been surprising if there had been.

Just to be clear - a certain post may inspire me but I feel no restriction to limit my response to a particular post. I'm assuming more than you and I are reading the thread.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-09-2003, 06:17 PM   #21
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IMHO, for speed and flexibility (and power), learn to relax, keep proper alignment, and breath. There are many great sources for different exercises.

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 08-11-2003, 01:30 AM   #22
Kevin Wilbanks
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Well, of course. But, no one was suggesting not relaxing or breathing or being misaligned. These are coaching tips about techinique and skill development. The ability to demonstrate any of the listed attributes would only improve via these avenues in people whose limiting factor was lack of skill or improper technique. The discussion has more to do with physical preparation and training. When comparing one preparatory/supplemental training methodology to another, I think it is implicit that skill issues remain constant.

If you are implying that no training other than proper skill/technique training is necessary... maybe, but only if you are already physically fit enough to train without injury problems and are only looking to measure your performance by purely self-referenced subjective criteria. In any physical endeavor that involves competition or objective measures of performance, no one who is serious foregoes general and special physical preparation.
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:40 AM   #23
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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After looking this over, I'm curious. What modes of stretching would be useful for aikido? Kevin mentioned something about weightlifting as a way to increase muscle tone/flexibility?

Any specific advice for exercises would be appreciated. My flexibility isn't so hot, and while I don't mind all that much, it's something that I think is worth some work.
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Old 08-11-2003, 02:25 AM   #24
YEME
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I'm curious what others do too. Specific exercises that have helped directly towards better Aikido.

Does anyone out there train right before their Aikido class (ie Weights/Running/Swimming)?

I go through basic stretches for wrists/quads/hips/shoulders. I always figured that this gives extra flexibility which allows more time before a movement can cause me pain. I got them out of an old Aikido manual. But they're the same one's gym teachers go through in high school and can be found on a lot of fitness sites.
Try:

www.netfit.co.uk/stretmen.htm

Last edited by YEME : 08-11-2003 at 02:29 AM.

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Old 08-11-2003, 05:27 AM   #25
paw
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Paul/Anna,
Quote:
Kevin mentioned something about weightlifting as a way to increase muscle tone/flexibility?
The top sprinters, Olympic weightlifters, and numerous other successful athletes train against heavy resistance. After all, a monumental element of speed production is fast twitch fiber recruitment, which is enhanced greatly with proper weight training. European research has shown that full range resistance training is the best way of developing functional flexibility (Siff 2000). Olympic weightlifters have been shown to equal or outperform top sprinters in sprints of up to 30 meters. They have also been shown to be second only to gymnasts in overall flexibility (Siff 2000).

Siff, M C (2000) Facts and Fallacies of Fitness.

Jamie Hale --- snipped from Dolfzine (http://www.dolfzine.com/page596.htm)


Did you have more specific questions?

Regards,

Paul
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