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Old 10-12-2004, 11:31 AM   #1
"anonymous"
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acceptance

I would like to share with you a concern I have and hopefully get your point of view on the subject:
I've been practicing Aikido for 3 years now - it makes me very happy and has become an important part in my life.
Three months ago I found out I am pregnant, which is something I was looking forward to.
After considering all aspects and consulting with my Sensei (he was one of the first to know) - I've decided to continue practicing Aikido for as long as I can. We've decided I will decrease the amount of lessons (no more consecutive lessons), eliminate the dangerous techniques (no more brakefalls or koshi-nage) and sit whenever I feel tired (which happens a lot…). I also told everybody I have a backache and that the throws should be very slow and in control. It's only until I'll be able to tell them the real reason, which will be quite soon.
I'm accepting the fact that something, even though I'll be very careful, might go wrong and that "Aikido is not a chess game" (I quote my Sensei).
My questions, therefore, are not about the medical aspects - there are several threads here about this issue. My questions are more on the ethical and social aspects of the subject:
1. Most of the Aikidokas in my Dojo are male. I'm not sure how will they react to the idea of working with a pregnant woman. Any thoughts?
2. In one of the threads, a Sensei wrote that he didn't allow the pregnant Aikidokas to train regularly, only in private lessons. I respect his opinion (after all - it's his Dojo), but it got me thinking - am I putting too much burden on my Sensei and my partners by choosing to train? Is it selfish and inconsiderate of me to put them in this situation?
Training so far feels excellent - no physical discomfort and I keep learning about my center with every transition my body goes through.
I would be very happy to hear your thoughts on the subject and sorry for posting anonymously…
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Old 10-12-2004, 05:59 PM   #2
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: acceptance

When I first started training - I guess I'd been doing Aikido for a year - one of the regular students found herself pregnant and continued training until about her 7th month (I may be wrong on this - it was long time ago). She did this with the full support (and care) of her doctor, the instructor and all the students in the dojo. She trained as you suggest...no breakfalls. Lots of body movement. Nice and slow.

I know that I thought it was fantastic that she continued to train after she found out that she was pregnant. For one, she was a friend of mine so I was able to see her often as her pregnancy developed and two, she continued to do what she wanted to to the best of her ability throughout her pregnancy. That, plus the health benefits of training I think really helped her mentally and physically while she was pregnant.

My few yen...

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 10-12-2004, 07:02 PM   #3
mj
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Re: acceptance

What kind of Aikido is it?

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Old 10-12-2004, 09:42 PM   #4
Nick P.
 
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Exclamation Re: acceptance

<WARNING!>
Now that I have your attention....

My wife continued to train (like mentioned above; no ukemi, sensible training, etc) into her seventh month. At the end of one class, we were putting away the mats (as usual), and she blacked-out.

Luckily many students were around her, and she managed to sit down with her back against a wall for support, but while I was asking her if she was OK, she did not respond; her eyes were open, she was breathing normally, bu her lower lip just kind of quivered. Cell phones were being retrieved from bags, and moments before I was going to yell "CALL 911, AND GET AN AMBULANCE HERE NOW!" to my good friend, she came out of it.
She was groggy, a little disoriented and didn't feel well. Within an hour she felt fine, she assured me.
She went to her OB the next day and he confirmed the baby was fine. Thomas is now 8 months old and fine.

My wife is one of the fittest people I (and many of our Uber-fit friends) know, and tenacious, but she was caught by the level of the demands pregnancy placed on her, not to mention trying to keep up a fraction of her training.

If she would not have been talking to someone at the time she blacked out.....<shudder>.

So yes, continue to train, but please remember the mats will still be there waiting for your return.

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Old 10-12-2004, 09:51 PM   #5
Nick P.
 
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Re: acceptance

AND CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

-duh

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Old 10-12-2004, 10:14 PM   #6
L. Camejo
 
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Re: acceptance

One of my students recently became pregnant as well. At first we considered the option of her training without any breakfalls, but I later decided it was best for her to stop training altogether.

The reason for this was because of how extremely tiring it was for her as she is still working (doing a very physically and mentally taxing job) and had no car, meaning transportation difficulties as well. Even though she really wanted to continue training I advised against it. Also, because of the sort of Aikido we do, she would have to just sit down during randori sessions due to the way we do randori. A tanto tsuki that landed could have some detrimental effects for her. Another thing I thought about was that even though the majority of the class would be supportive of her condition, some may feel cheated having to take up the role of Uke alone when training with her, and I did not want her to be feeling uncomfortable with this as well. I pretty much told her what Nick spoke of above - the mats will always be there whenever she is ready.

Just my thoughts. Congratulations to you and I hope it all works out fine.

LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 10-12-2004 at 10:16 PM.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 10-13-2004, 12:54 AM   #7
"anonymous"
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Re: acceptance

For the record - I still do Ukemi, i.e. front and back rolls and very gently (until my body will tell me otherwise).
Mark - The affiliation is Aikikai and my Sensei teaches us to work softly as a rule (unless we get carried away at Gi-waza, which is also nice from time to time
Nick - Thanks and congratulations to you too. Do you know what was the cause of your wife's blackout? Was it the low blood pressure or something else?
Larry - So far I've been doing the practice with a lot of awareness - sitting a lot when I'm tired (even slightly), working slowly and skipping the "tricky" techniques. What I would like to know is something you've mentioned in your post about Aikidokas feeling cheated by working with a pregnant Aikidoka. Is it that different from working with someone who is elderly or has some physical disability?
Again - Thanks for you replies.
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Old 10-13-2004, 04:12 AM   #8
creinig
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Re: acceptance

Quote:
1. Most of the Aikidokas in my Dojo are male. I'm not sure how will they react to the idea of working with a pregnant woman. Any thoughts?
They'll be extra careful. If they aren't or if they are put off by this, well, there's their long-awaited chance for improving their personality
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Old 10-13-2004, 07:35 AM   #9
Hanna B
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Re: acceptance

If I found out I had been training with a pregnant woman and she did not tell me, I think I would be angry. If you do not let me know, how do you expect me to adjust accordingly?

Once a woman I trained with tried to "teach" me while we were training by showing that she could hit her in my stomach. Her "punch" was from a very awkward angle and it had no strength in it at all - I was going slow to figure things out, she critisized that I was "standing there for so long" and tried to punch my stomach to get me moving. I answered by showing her that I was in a much better position to hit her belly than she was to reach mine. The whole situation was a bit unusual, but I have been in similar situations training with people eho try to "teach" you while they obviously have no clue. It might not be the most elegant solution, but I have often been told by men that the best way to silence such "teachers" are physical, not verbal.

What if I did that, and later found out that she was pregnant at the time. Boy, I would feel bad.

Actually, I do not understand how your teacher can let you train without telling the class you are pregnant. I have trained with women who trained during the major part of their pregnancy. One could not wear her hakama in the end, and borrowed a white belt as she could not tie her usual one.. We adopted a lot, never made a pin with her on her belly for long time but onely very bried. She liked training feeling so heavy.

The comment about being "cheated" concerned a women (if I understand correctly) who no longer took ukemi at all... the last month she trained we did often not perform the whole techniqe, but only the beginning so she did not have to go down so many times during a class. I trained a whole seminar for Saito sensei this way, simply because it was too crowded on the tatami to take full ukemi... but noone complained that it would be bad training because of this. I have trained in similar ways when people had injuries or slight handicaps... no problem. As long as one changes partners regularly, I see no problem at all with his.

Don't feel that it is bad to adopt training to your circumstances. Enjoy it.

Last edited by Hanna B : 10-13-2004 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 10-13-2004, 08:17 AM   #10
philipsmith
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Re: acceptance

Current advice is to remain as active as possible during pregnancy.
Some caveats (which it sounds like you're already following).
Avoid getting over-tired, monitor your blood pressure avoid contact to the abdomen.
Recent studies have shown that an active healthy mother will generally have an active healthy baby.
As for partners training with you feeling "cheated" - I agree with you; why is that different from practising with the elderly or someone with an injury?
Good luck with the pregnancy and birth.
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Old 10-13-2004, 11:38 AM   #11
"anonymous"
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Re: acceptance

Hanna, you don't know how much I wanted to tell the Aikidokas in my Dojo about my pregnancy. Believe me, they are the people I desire to tell the most. The problem is that in the first 3 months there are statistically a lot of miscarriages (around 12%-15% of the pregnancies ends then). It's too hard to share the joy of the news and then deal with the pain of informing everybody if a miscarriage happens. So don't be angry on someone for wanting to know that everything is ok before braking the news.
It's the longest 3 months in my life... (and 6 more to go).
When I'll tell them - it's going to be in front of the whole Dojo and I'll apologize to them for misleading them about my back. I hope they'll understand.
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Old 10-13-2004, 01:12 PM   #12
BC
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Re: acceptance

Congradulations!

One of our dojo members is currently pregnant with her second child, and is continuing to train just like with her first pregnancy. Again, no breakfalls, and she practices at a relatively easy pace and rests if she feels fatigued. One thing she shared with me is that she is careful to choose training partners - basically only practicing with ones who she knows will practice in a safe manner, and she always informs them that she is pregnant. I can understand your reasons why you choose not to share the news until the end of your first trimester. Until you do share your good news, you can always ask your partners to take it easy, as you are "tired," which is probably the truth anyway. I know, because my wife and I just had our second child recently.

As far as partners feeling "cheated," I view that reaction as mere selfishness. While I love a good vigorous practice, I also occasionally intentionally practice at a slower pace if I am trying to work on a particular aspect of a technique (balance, center, flow, etc.). So I don't mind taking the intensity level down a notch or two once in a while.

Robert Cronin
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Old 10-13-2004, 03:22 PM   #13
Bronson
 
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Re: acceptance

How can people feel cheated?!?! This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to defend against a pregnant woman attacking you. Strange and mysterious things happen to a womans hormones during that time, often changing them for brief periods into psychotic knife-wielding lunatics....PERFECT!

Train safe for as long as you can and don't worry about other's feeling cheated...that's their problem.

Besides, they'll probably end up with another person to train with after a few years...what a bonus

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 10-13-2004, 03:37 PM   #14
NagaBaba
 
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Re: acceptance

Three or four woman from a our dojo did train until 8 or 9 month without any problem. Good idea to train as long as you can.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 10-13-2004, 07:07 PM   #15
MaryKaye
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Re: acceptance

A caveat, though:

A first-kyu student in our dojo recently had her second baby. When we found out she was pregnant we asked if she would continue to train, or at least take the low-impact Ki Development classes. She laughed and said "When I was pregnant last time, I had no brainpower and no energy. I'll see you in nine months or so, but I'm going to take things easy."

So, it's great to decide to train, but if it becomes a source of fatigue and stress rather than a pleasure and a help, don' t be hard on yourself. Everyone reacts to pregnancy differently.

Mary Kaye
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Old 10-13-2004, 08:44 PM   #16
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: acceptance

One of my fellow dojo members trained through her pregnancy. She did not disclose it to others til after her third month for the same reasons, miscarriages happen mostly then and for not just because of physical accidents, sometimes just because the fetus isn't viable. She took it easy, and just let people know she wasn't 100%.

Jeanne
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Old 10-13-2004, 09:13 PM   #17
Josh Bisker
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Re: acceptance

congratulations!
so is one's center twice as powerful with two people occupying the same hara?
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Old 10-14-2004, 12:38 AM   #18
L. Camejo
 
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Re: acceptance

Quote:
What I would like to know is something you've mentioned in your post about Aikidokas feeling cheated by working with a pregnant Aikidoka. Is it that different from working with someone who is elderly or has some physical disability?
Hi Anon,

Sorry I took so long to get back to you. I see you already have some pretty good reactions to the "feeling cheated" concept.

Hanna B and Robert Cronin allude to what I was refering to. The majority of Aikidoka I know, including myself will have no problem adjusting our practice to suit someone with an injury, disability or anything else that may hinder them a bit.

However, as Robert suggested, there are the selfish ones who come to the dojo for only their own edification and may take the position of "paying their dues to train and not to practice half of the technique" by being Uke alone and being overly and extremely careful when training in any of the situations you indicate above. As you stated, there is nothing different with folks who have disabilities, are elderly etc. the types of people I am referring to will see these people in the same light as someone who is pregnant - a hindrance to their going all out.

In these cases I tend to make it my business to be Uke for the pregnant person in question rather than run the risk of the person getting hurt by an over exuberant Tori. To date I still do deep and thourough investigations whenever any of my students get injured outside the norm, so if there is a possibility of this I take responsibility by being that person's training partner for the session.

The fact is, due to the nature of our training style there are some areas that elderly folks, pregnant folks etc. just cannot participate in. For this reason we have separate testing syllabi for women and elderly Dan grades. For things like resistance randori especially, these folks are advised to take a rest or practice kata if they are unable to handle the intensity.

I agree of course that those who are unable to train with pregnant folk, elderly folk etc. are missing something in working on the inner aspects of their own training.

LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 10-14-2004, 02:02 AM   #19
"anonymous"
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Re: acceptance

So far I've done some "testing" - I told two guys in my Dojo that I feel close to about my pregnancy.
The first guy kept his eagerness to train with me afterward which made me very happy. He wasn't trying to avoid practicing with me like I was afraid of.
The second guy was someone who is considered a strong and a fast Aikidoka. We've practiced Shomenuchi Irimi-Nage and he was doing it quite fast for my taste (the Ukemi felt perfectly ok, but the balance was taken a little bit too much for what I wished then). I reminded him twice about my "back pain", but he continued working in the same manner. It wasn't because he was being mean, it's probably because he knew me to be able to handle much more power then what he was doing and he did try to make is slower. Then I told him (in the middle of the technique) that I was pregnant and boy - did he become gentle after that! It was amazing and hilarious to see that guy becoming as soft as a kitty (even more then I wish him to be).
I'm aware of the fact that some will try to avoid practicing with me when I'll brake the news, but that's fine by me. I do not wish to train with people who do not trust themselves or wish to train with someone in my condition.
Bronson - you're a killer.
Larry- I knew you weren't referring to yourself, but there are people like these everywhere (Dojo, office, etc.) and it's better to avoid them, which is easy because they are trying to avoid you as well... A win-win situation
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Old 10-14-2004, 04:40 AM   #20
Hanna B
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Re: acceptance

So if you have a miscarriage, you expect them to never find out... may be true, maybe not. If this woman did have a miscarriage, and I had been punching her in her stomach...

it would most probably have nothing to do with it. Most early miscarriages happens because something is wrong with the foetus anyway. But still...
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Old 10-14-2004, 06:49 AM   #21
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Re: acceptance

Hanna, you've just raised one of my biggest dilemmas.
The chance of having a miscarriage due to a hit to the stomach or so during practice is extremely rare (especially in the early months, when the womb is still inside the pelvis). But still, I did take in consideration that something, however rare, might happen during practice. That's part of life and I'll need to deal with it the same way as if I'll have a car accident or any other traumatic injury (God forbid).
It becomes a greater problem when we're talking about my partner during the injury - that's exactly the burden I was talking about when I've started the thread. I will never blame someone for an accident (they do happen, as we all know), but he/she might feel responsible for it and that's the hard point. We'll both have to live with my decision to practice and the consequences of it, but I'll be the one that laid it on him/her… Not an easy thing.
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Old 10-14-2004, 10:35 AM   #22
Nick P.
 
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Re: acceptance

Quote:
Nick - Thanks and congratulations to you too. Do you know what was the cause of your wife's blackout? Was it the low blood pressure or something else?
We still don't know what caused the blackout, but the message, to us at least, is clear; each person is different, and each pregnancy with the same person will be different. Enjoy the pregnancy, but take care of yourself and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

Good luck!

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Old 10-14-2004, 06:51 PM   #23
thomas_dixon
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Re: acceptance

While Aikido may be an important part of your life, I think you'd have to make a choice between Aikido and the baby's assured health. and if a woman was pregnant, i wouldn't throw her...at all...


I suggest you lay off aikido until after the baby is born. (my personal opinion.)
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Old 10-14-2004, 07:31 PM   #24
GaiaM
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Re: acceptance

Quote:
While Aikido may be an important part of your life, I think you'd have to make a choice between Aikido and the baby's assured health. and if a woman was pregnant, i wouldn't throw her...at all...
I disagree with this statement on two counts:

First of all, many studies and good ol' common sense say that staying active during pregnancy is one of the best ways to assure an easy pregnancy and healthy mother and baby. Aikido is like anything else - there are risks and benefits. As long as one trains wisely and doesn't take hard falls (or perhaps any falls towards the end of the pregnancy), I expect the benefits would generally outway the risks.

Secondly, IMO it is not your position to choose what a pregnant woman does or does not do during her pregnancy. Ok, if you are really uncomfortable throwing her then you should just say that and train without throws or with a different person. But personally, if I were pregnant and did my research and thought about it and decided to continue training in aikido, I would hope that others in the dojo would respect that decision. If someone was concerned I would want them to approach me about it outside of class. This is the way to show respect for the decisions people make about their own bodies.

Personally, I hope to train if I am pregnant someday and I expect that the physical and emotional support of the training and the dojo community will probably be very important to me during that time.

Gaia

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Old 10-14-2004, 08:23 PM   #25
PeterR
 
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Re: acceptance

Sorry Gaia but I disagree.

Yes activity is good for pregnant women but breakfalls and other components of training can be quite extreme, especially in some dojos.

As much as a woman has a right to continue to exercise anyone (and why does it sound like you are assuming its a man making the decision) can decide that they do not want to risk hurting a developing child or anyone for that matter. In actual fact tori should be making that decision with everyone they practice with every time they do a technique.

It hasn't happened yet but if a visibly pregnant woman came to my group, based on the intensity of the practice, I would strongly suggest another form of exercise even if they were used to our form of Aikido training. Take the time to explore something else.

I do think Aikido provides quite a bit of lee way but the group practice should not suffer because of an individual. There are many instances where one should stay away from practice.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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