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Old 10-25-2004, 12:28 PM   #1
Steve Kubien
Dojo: Renseikan
Location: Ajax, Ontario
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Is aikido for me?

Hi everybody,

As I have written before, I am new to martial arts (overall). I have been studying Yoshinkan Aikido for a couple of months. I am having a hard time with a few things and hopefully you folks can shed some light.

My knees are killing me!!!! Me back wasn't this stiff when I used to coach and practise powerlifting!!! Sure, I am getting a heck of an aerobic workout but I am in the right place? I am 33 years old and about 80lbs overweight. Did I jump into rehabbing my physical state with too much enthusiasm? I am at the dojo 3 times per week for 1-1/2 classes. Would another style of aikido be easier on my joints or are they just as tough?

Since joining at my dojo, I have taken a few classes in jodo in addition to the aikido. I really love it but I do not get winded the same as in an aikido class. I am worried that jodo will not provide enough of a physical benefit for me to improve my overall health. Anybody out there study jodo and care to comment? Will it become more demanding as I train and advance?

I guess the bottom line is that I do not want to become a cripple who cannot walk or get out of bed in the morning. I have seen my training effect how I function at work because of soreness but I've also seen its benefits (more mental than anything).

Suggestions? Comments?

Thanks for your help.

Steve Kubien
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Old 10-25-2004, 12:38 PM   #2
Yokaze
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Every dojo is different, but in the dojo in which I train, kneeling is not necessary of your knees are bad. For instance, I am in the middle of a minor knee injury myself that keeps me from kneeling. As a substitute, I can sit crosslegged, respectfully, whenever the sensei is instructing. Any Suwari Waza (kneeling) techniques can be done standing as well.

As to your back, I'm not sure how to handle that. I've never had that problem before. You should definately speak with your sensei. He or she will likely have better insights than I would.

Respectfully yours

"The only true victory is victory over oneself."

Rob Cunningham
3rd Kyu

Icon courtesy of Norbert Knoll http://www.aikido-verein-hannover.de
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:07 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

There are many factors at work here, so please take what I say (and what others say) with some grains of salt...
It is highly possible that you are training too often/long/hard for your current baseline. I distinctly recall (as an out of shape 41 yr old beginner) having to take a break every 15 minutes at first. Between the extra poundage and the fact that you are asking your body to use muscles it hasn't had to use before/use them differently (this latter is a soreness factor for most newbies), you may want to check w/ the instructors about sitting out the equivalent of one half to one third of each class for a week (via one or two staggered breaks) and reevaluate/adjust as needed.
Another possible problem is that you have body habits (postural, muscle holding patterns) from your previous workouts that are not suitable to aikido: ask an instructor or senior student to watch you as you move and see if you are perhaps placing undue strain on knees or back.
best of luck--and let us know

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:14 PM   #4
suren
Dojo: Aikido of Silicon Valley
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Re: Is aikido for me?

It's not clear what makes your knees hurt. Is it seiza or when you stand in hanmi, or when you cut with your boken? I had the problem while I was cutting with the boken and that was because I was moving too much weight on my back foot. Besides I noticed that my right knee hurts more and it's probably because I'm driving a lot .
As for back pain I would ask my teacher. It could be a problem with your rolls.
I also practice for several months 6 days a week, but as I learn more it hurst less and less (especially as I progress in my rolls and ukemi overall).
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Old 10-25-2004, 01:14 PM   #5
SeiserL
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

IMHO, coming from a too-big too-old guy with bad knees, shoulders and back, you may need to relax and watch your form more. Aikido was hard from me to get my head and body around. Take it easy. Be patient. Talk with people (Sensei and Sempai) at your Dojo.

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 10-25-2004, 01:55 PM   #6
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Steve Kubien wrote:
My knees are killing me!!!!
Could you amplify this statement. Is it due to lots of knee work? Is it due to falling down and getting up a lot? Is it due to a lot of twisting movements? Do you even know?

Secondly, 80 pounds, depending on how you define it, can be a lot of overweight. You may need to back things way down until you work back up to it. Aikido schools are what they are and often they are not terribly competent at physical conditioning. In other words, you are responsible for that and it may be that this school is just doing what it does, or you may be throwing yourself into it, when you aren't ready for what they are offering.

Lastly, not all schools are created equal so it's very possible that another school would offer an entirely different experience.
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Old 10-25-2004, 02:05 PM   #7
Fiona D
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Re: Is aikido for me?

In reply to your 3rd paragraph.....

Jodo is a good physical workout, though in a rather different way than Aikido. How much of it you feel after just a few sessions depends a bit on how you're learning -- whether it's lots & lots of kihon waza, or whether you're doing a lot of basic learning of the sequence of movements in the katas. Learning the sequences isn't that much of a workout, but getting everything in the right place at the right time, keeping the control, and keeping the timing/contact in paired kata certainly is! More overall physically taxing right from the beginning is multiple repetition of kihon waza, or the paired drills that we practice fairly often. Jodo is also very good for improving posture. This might help you with the back stiffness issue.

(I can certainly vouch for intensive Jodo practice as a good overall workout after the recent weekend I spent in Toronto at a seminar with 2 wonderful guest senseis from Japan. I think everyone there was tired out at the end of the weekend!)
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Old 10-25-2004, 02:05 PM   #8
bkedelen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

suggestion the first: glucosamine and chondroitin
suggestion the second: come early to class and do extra warmups on areas which bother you, post here if you want suggestions about good warmups for knees, back, etc.
suggestion the third: give muscle groups around areas that bother you a weight bearing workout 1-3 times a week, do not use heavy weights, do not do less than 8 reps, do not take weight lifting supplements
suggestion the fourth: get shoe insoles that support the arch of your foot (try Superfeet, http://www.superfeet.com/content/index.html, as they have a very sturdy plastic construction which will not soften up like foam)
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Old 10-25-2004, 02:29 PM   #9
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Is aikido for me?

I'm 43 and have been doing yoshinkan for about 8 years or so. The soreness will definately get better as you improve, especially your breakfalls. I'll second the recommendation for glucosomine. Do you mind if I ask who your teacher is as a point of reference? I also have knee problems, and my instructor is very understanding, even allowing me to stand if needed during periods where the class is in seiza for a long time. I talked with him about the knee problems I was having, and he helped me to work through them. I think your instructor will do the same if you give him the opportunity. Yoshinkan is kind of known for its severe training, but I think allowances are usually made for individual situations (as long as you aren't thinking of the senshusei course in Tokyo... ).

Stick with it, learn to relax, stretch and breathe as much as possible BEFORE class.

Best of luck and good keiko,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 10-25-2004, 02:31 PM   #10
Kevin Masters
Dojo: Woodstock Aikido
Location: Mount Tremper, NY
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Re: Is aikido for me?

It may be that your leg muscles haven't yet caught up to the work you're putting them through. When I started about 2 years ago my knees hurt really bad so that I couldn't even walk normally the next day after class. I had thought that maybe I had arthritis because of my years as a skateboarder.
Nowadays they hardly give me any trouble at all. I think my lack of muscle tone was causing my knees to take all of the force instead of disapating it safely.

But! <disclaimer> Don't take my word for it. Listen to your own body and be safe. </disclaimer>
Kev.
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Old 10-25-2004, 03:34 PM   #11
Steve Kubien
Dojo: Renseikan
Location: Ajax, Ontario
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Re: Is aikido for me?

I think my knees hurt from all of the falling and getting up, using one leg to push up the rest of my body. Seiza is uncomfortable at the beginning of class but after warm-ups and some work it is bearable. It's definately not from weapons works as that is not begun until you reach 6th or 5th kyu at our dojo (major bummer for me because sword-techniques are one of the major things which drew me to aikido).

Curious, but what is glucosamine and what does it do?

My back could very well be because of breakfalls/rolls. My form is awful. In fact, I have yet to make it over for a decent back roll. My front rolls resemble (barely) controlled falls.

Fiona, thanks for the encouragement about jodo. I really enjoy it. Don Croft (who you may have met in Toronto) keeps reminding me that if I hit him, he'll get me back! I like to think he is kidding but I wonder.

Thanks for the info and the encouragement everybody.

Steve Kubien
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Old 10-25-2004, 03:35 PM   #12
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Hi Steve,

Benjamin gave you advice that worked for me. I wasn't overweight, but my knees had 57 years of wear on them when I started. Sitting seiza and suwari-waza were agony for the first couple of months. Taking the glucosomine and stretching before class really helped me. I do a runner's stretch where I pull the instep up behind me so the heel touches my butt and hold it for 20 seconds. I still can't lay flat on my back with my knees under me yet, but I'm much closer and getting there. Sitting seiza was so hard at first that I started doing it at home during the commercial breaks on TV. At first it was a minute, and gradually I worked up to ten to fifteen minutes without a problem.

All this assumes that you don't have a structural problem or injury that you aren't aware of. Your Sensei should be able to tell whether you'll simply get used to it in time, or you need treatment. Good luck - I hope this helps.

Michael

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 10-25-2004, 04:02 PM   #13
bkedelen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Glucosamine is a substance associated with the production of human cartilage.
Chondroitin is a substance which is associated with the prevention of the breakdown of human cartilage.
The combination of these substances has been proven to statistically increase the joint and connective tissue health of species equine, and has been commonly used in the training of race horses for some years now.
The substance has not been statistically proven to have an effect on humans, but early reports from current studies shows very promising results, and many people at Boulder Aikikai (which is notorious for knee problems) use it regularly.
Please note that these products, alone or in combination, have no scientifically proven benefit. Because they are manufactured from shellfish, they can be lethal to those with an associated histamine reaction.
I suggest that you try them if you do not have a shellfish allergy, and that you have no preconceptions about whether they will work, so that you can accurately assess what they actually do for you.
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Old 10-25-2004, 04:07 PM   #14
andylucas
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Re: Is aikido for me?

i have had four scopes done over the years. wrap your knees for class and limit your kneeling. over time your legs will get a little stronger from the side to side movement you do in class.
stick with it
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Old 10-25-2004, 05:51 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Benjamin Edelen wrote:
The substance has not been statistically proven to have an effect on humans, but early reports from current studies shows very promising results.
Actually, they do, specifically for symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knees: they beat out placebo and were as effective as nsaids for the same percentage of patients. Only knees were assessed, only symptoms were rated (not actual joint appearance). But still...it's something.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-25-2004, 08:22 PM   #16
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
Actually, they do, specifically for symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knees: they beat out placebo and were as effective as nsaids for the same percentage of patients. Only knees were assessed, only symptoms were rated (not actual joint appearance). But still...it's something.
My understanding is that there is a fairly large study in the works but that most of the studies involving glucosamine were far from conclusive. Has something changed?
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Old 10-25-2004, 08:34 PM   #17
bkedelen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

To my knowledge the scientific community demands not only study, but publication, replication, corroboration, and scrutiny before making results conclusive and generally accepted. Even after all of that, hypotheses can never be proven true (just not proven false). Although there can certainly be truth without proof, one should always take things which are not generally accepted (wonder drugs, untested supplements, herbs, chemicals, etc.) with a grain of salt. In this case, however, I would say we are in pretty safe territory.
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Old 10-25-2004, 10:50 PM   #18
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

You mentioned your back hurting.

I'm about 40 lbs overweight right now. When I first joined i was around 170 - 180 and i began to eat more as i trained more and my weight jumped up to 230. When it reached that point i found that my back was hurting quite alot. Why? Because the extra 50 lbs was putting that much more pressure on it and was that much more to hold up. Since i started working out harder and eating less i've dropped about 10 lbs which has helped my back dramatically. Keep working and eating less. Drop that weight! You can do it!

Losing the weight could also help your knees alot in things like suwari waza. Remember your legs and knees have to support your whole body. I'm sure they wouldn't mind a few less pounds to hold up.

Best of luck

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 10-25-2004, 10:50 PM   #19
Bronson
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

One thing with the glucosamine/chondroitin is that most people have to take it for a while to begin to feel any effects, so don't get discouraged if you don't feel different right away.

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 10-26-2004, 12:09 AM   #20
Erik
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Steve Kubien wrote:
I think my knees hurt from all of the falling and getting up, using one leg to push up the rest of my body.
Make sure you get up carefully and with your knee in a stable position: your knee and foot aligned so that the knee joint doesn't twist as you get up. Technically I'm not sure if your knee can twist but you probably get my point. Anyways, there is a tendency during practice to fall down and jump right back up which can cause a lot of stress on the knees if you aren't careful or don't know how to be careful.

I suspect there is someone at your school who can give you good advice and I'd go looking for it.
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Old 10-26-2004, 03:06 AM   #21
stuartjvnorton
 
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Confused Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Steve Kubien wrote:
I think my knees hurt from all of the falling and getting up, using one leg to push up the rest of my body.
How do you mean "falling & getting up"?

If it's getting up from a zenpo kaiten ukemi or koho ukemi, your weight might not be proportioned correctly.
Once you're at the point where one knee is on the ground by the other ankle (as in step 1 of seiza ho), you should be able to distribute your weight to both legs. That will at least take some pressure off the one leg.
Getting to that point in the first place is about using one hand (the hand that slaps in a zenpo kaiten ukemi, & the opposite hand for koho ukemi) and the grounded foot of your bent leg to kind of act like a line of rotation and the momentum of your straight leg as the impetus to help you turn on that line. As you turn through that axis, you pull the straight leg in. This will help you make the transition from "sitting" on the ground at the end of the ukemi to being in the seiza ho step 1 position.
Doing it that way will mean that you can use the energy of the roll to help you up, instead of stopping dead at the end & then having to fully pick yourself up off the floor.
(Sorry if that's just melted your head. I can picture it, but describing it isn't terribly easy)

If you mean getting back up from being uke for something like ikkajo or nikajo where you're pushing yourself up from lying face-down, I can only suggest trying to use your arms more. Can't think of anything else, sorry.

Cheers,
Stuart.
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Old 10-26-2004, 12:05 PM   #22
Janet Rosen
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Quote:
Erik Haselhofer wrote:
My understanding is that there is a fairly large study in the works but that most of the studies involving glucosamine were far from conclusive. Has something changed?
Eric, I never remember where I read things, I read them, retain what I need and move on. Yes, there was a respected formal double blind study that reached the conclusions I mention, within the past 4 yrs.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-26-2004, 01:38 PM   #23
Qatana
 
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Re: Is aikido for me?

I thik that if we are answering questions from people with not a lot of Aikido/MA experience it would be kind to keep the Japanese technical terminology to a minimum. Some dojo don't use very much Japanese in their teaching, i know mine doesn't.
So if people like me with two years of training don't have a clue what some of these terms are, think of a beginner!

Q
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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 10-26-2004, 05:02 PM   #24
Jill N
Dojo: K-W Ki Aikido (Kitchener, Ont)
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Re: Is aikido for me?

Hi all:
Janet wrote
>>Eric, I never remember where I read things, I read them, retain what I need and move on. Yes, there was a respected formal double blind study that reached the conclusions I mention, within the past 4 yrs.<<

I recall reading about this too. I am always on the lookout for this kind of info and have found glucosamine to be very helpful with my sore hip- it's ok most of the time when I take the glucosamine and hurts if I miss 3-4 days. The pharmacist I spoke with about it also said that it is very well documented in animal use. They don't usually exhibit a placebo effect, unless they are smarter than your average beast!

e ya later
Jill.
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