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Old 04-14-2003, 12:44 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 3
Aikido and body shape?

I am new to the board (first post) and I will be taking my first Aikido class on May 5. It is a beginnings class that last 2 months. My question is: Is Aikido a good MA for a tall, lanky person? I am 6'5" and about 190lbs. I know that being tall and thin is disadvantage in Judo because of the high center of gravity and long arms and legs with less leverage, but is tall and thin a disadvantage in Aikido? or is an advantage or does it really matter in Aikido?

I have taken TKD in the past for several years and the long arms and legs came in handy, but I am wanting to try something different. Aikido caught my interest in the past, but I didn't live in a place that offered it until now.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-14-2003, 01:27 PM   #2
Paul Klembeck
Location: silicon valley
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 43
Overall neither an advantage or a disadvantage. However, you will find that your height makes some techniques easier for you and some techniques harder.

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Old 04-14-2003, 03:46 PM   #3
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erikmenzel's Avatar
Dojo: Koshinkai Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 594
With some techniques being tall rocks, but with others it sucks bigtime.

Main trick is not to let that put you down and practise the hard techniques more often. If you are lucky one of the unlogical techniques for a tall person might even become one of your favorite techniques.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
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Old 04-14-2003, 04:48 PM   #4
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
Dojo: Yoshokai; looking into judo
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 434
As a sempai told me, some people have body shapes that make certain things bad, and certain things good, and others have different advantages and disadvantages. (I'm agreeing with the previous posters.)

That aside, I'd actually say that most aikidoka I know (myself included) are on the wiry side. (Not necessarily tall.) My current testing partner is more stocky, though, and it doesn't give him problems (in fact helping him with a few things, I imagine, and giving him more momentum); aikido works for most people.
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Old 04-15-2003, 07:02 AM   #5
Dojo: West Michigan Aikido
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 112
Isn't Seagal Sensei like 6 foot 5 inches? It doesn't seem to make his Aikido less beautiful.

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Old 04-15-2003, 09:18 AM   #6
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
We have a black belt in our organization that is about 6'11". He does very well. He's hell to throw in a koshinage though. You really have to extend. He takes a great tobu ukemi (flying breakfall) though.
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:34 AM   #7
Larry Feldman
Dojo: Atlanta School of Aikido
Location: Atlanta, GA
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 387
6' 4", 185, been practicing for awhile. You may have to do some minor modification to your technique - hopefully your teacher can help.

As an aside I once went to a seminar with a 6th dan - who started his own organization. He was a very short man, even for a japanese. His 'personal' style, and what he taught really emphasized his height (or lack thereof). Obviuosly it was not very valuable to me, (never met the 6'11" guy).

What I try to tell the tall students I have is to use the 'up' motions in technique as much, if not more than the 'down' motions.

Bend your knees. Look for ways to 'stretch' uke out with your length - horizontal motion.
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Old 04-15-2003, 09:59 AM   #8
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 768
Isn't Seagal Sensei like 6 foot 5 inches? It doesn't seem to make his Aikido less beautiful.
But it does make a difference. Seagal said his height was the reason he focused so much on irimi nage, for example. He also said it was why he so rarely used koshi.


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Old 04-15-2003, 03:26 PM   #9
Kung Fu Liane
Location: Jersey
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 64


i'm small and i find thats fine for me, and i know tall people who say the same. personally i think its great that there is a mix in aikido of people of different heights, weights and strengths, because at least you'll find out if you're technique works on different people. there's nothing worse than practising with people who are the same size and strength as you all the time, then finding out you've been missing something and your technique won't work so well on someone bigger/smaller or stronger/weaker. plus you'll have an advantage if you have to do front breakfalls over a row of people

incidentally most of the tall martial artists i've met have been thai boxers; i think they do well because of the long legs

Aikido: a martial art which allows you to defeat your enemy without hurting him, unless of course he doesn't know how to breakfall in which case he will shatter every bone in his body when he lands. Also known as Origami with people
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Old 04-16-2003, 06:52 PM   #10
KaitlinCostello's Avatar
Location: Commerce City, Co
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 47
I personally don't think that weight or height make a difference. Every body build has its inherent pro's and con's, and those little "points" that you have to fine tune. I personally am about the shortest person in our group, standing a hair over five-two, and for lack of a better word-pudgy I can still roll and break fall like and fly through the air like the devil when the situation calls for it. Granted I'm on my toes ( lit.) as uke because Nage is generally 5 + inches taller then me. I'm also one of the only two women in the T/R class, so there is the natural strength and center difference ( but that's another thread for another day).

I would think as a taller person you would have to shorten your stride between you and your partner during some techniques. You'd have to stoop a bit for shorter Nages like me

Overall I wouldn't worry about the build issue, simply have fun training.



~~No smile is as beautiful as the one that struggles through tears.~~
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Old 04-17-2003, 02:14 AM   #11
Anat Amitay
Dojo: Nes- Ziona, "the red house"
Location: Israel
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 137
Hi there,

I myself am not tall but we do have someone in the dojo who is 1.93 meters (I think it's about 6.5?). He is a black belt and I don't think his hieght had ever interfered with his training. usually for men, their natural strength comes more of a problem than anything else. Since useing it is so natural, they have a hard time learning how to stop .

You might have some problems in the begining since you are still not used to the techniques etc. But don't let it get you down. If your sensei is good, he will teach you to deal with situations (if he is good he will also let you frustrate over some cases, to let you teach yourself, your body, what is right for it ).

I say Aikido is good for everyone, as long as they want to learn it, since it is a MA that doesn't require any begining shape, size, strength...

Hope you enjoy your training and good luck!

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Old 04-17-2003, 04:03 AM   #12
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
Location: London
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 899
United Kingdom
Never seen a particular problem with a practitioner's body shape (except if totally overweight), it's normally a large disparity between nage and uke that causes the problems in technique. This is the fun bit where you learn to adapt your technique to blend with your uke which is why I prefer practicing with as many different people in the dojo as I can, sometimes with comical/frustrating results...
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Old 04-17-2003, 04:58 AM   #13
Daniel Mills
Daniel Mills's Avatar
Dojo: Kokyu Aikido Association.
Location: Oldham, UK
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 85
I'm 6'1", and not far off 400lbs, and have recently begun studying Aikido. Less than 10 hours of training under my (so far non-existant) belt, and the only problems I'm encountering are with my rolls, predominantly due to a far weaker left arm/shoulder than my right, rather than any hindrance due to my size or weight.

In fact, the only problems I actually seem to encounter are during warm-ups, where I can't stretch as much as the other people, because my stomach gets in the way
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Old 04-17-2003, 05:59 AM   #14
batemanb's Avatar
Dojo: Seibukan Aikido UK
Location: body in UK, heart still in Japan
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 1,031
I'm 6'2" and about 180lbs, been practicing nearly 12 years. I agree with most of the above posters. i.e. some techniques work well, some not so. For me, the technique that I find hardest to do is koshinage (hip throw), and that's because my battered old knees (not from Aiki) don't work well when I sink down. Other than that, don't have too many problems with any of the other techniques (aside from lack of ability )

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 04-17-2003, 06:19 AM   #15
Sven Groot
Sven Groot's Avatar
Dojo: Shi Zen Ryu, Leiden
Location: Leiden, the Netherlands
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 23
I may only be 5'10", but I do sometimes practice with people a good deal smaller than me, so for all intents and purposes I am tall in such situations. I find the difference in height does matter, but it is not necessarily a disadvantage. I may not be an advantage either. It's just... different.

In any case, you won't know until you try, and especially such an introductory course like the one you're going to take is very good for finding out if Aikido is something for you. I personally don't think you'll have any difficulties though, but then again, what do I know?
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Old 04-17-2003, 07:12 AM   #16
Dojo: Aiki Kun Ren (Iwama style)
Location: Sydney
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 166
im about your height, and as mentioned plenty of times above its great for some and worse for others of the techniques.

but us tall fellas have to use our legs.... koshinage on a small person is soooo painful sometimes hahaha.

sensei is always like "bend your legs not your back damien"

happiness. harmony. compassion.
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Old 04-18-2003, 05:45 PM   #17
Greg Jennings
Dojo: S&G BJJ
Location: Springboro, OH
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,132
I'm almost 6'3", 190 lbs. My height and build, like everything else, has been a trade-off.

Iriminage is easy for me. I have to work harder for shihonage with short uke.

Koshinage used to be hard for me. When I started doing it the standard Iwama way, it got much, much easier. Height isn't as much an issue.


Greg Jennings
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Old 04-21-2003, 05:09 PM   #18
Dojo: NRL & Capital Aikikai
Location: Washington, DC
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 11
I'm 6'3" & 215 lbs. My biggest problem is finding someone bigger to play with. Send me the 6'11" guy!

Women tend to be intimidated until ~1st Kye, then the seek you out and have fun giving you fast break-falls.
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Old 04-21-2003, 05:32 PM   #19
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
6'4", 225 here. Some waza are made to give big ment the advantage. Others are a short man's Aikido. Learn to adapt.

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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