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Old 07-06-2005, 08:27 AM   #1
Stethomas
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 22
United Kingdom
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Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Just a quick question im sure has been around many times before. Why is it i get so knackkered Aikido training when im probley the fittest person there.

No one else i know does any other training & i do running, swimming, football etc... Yet am still always thirsty LOL

Whats going on, someone mentioned it to me that there was fit & there was mat fit, is this true? Do i just need to keep training to get more & more mat fit.

Thanks in advance..
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:14 AM   #2
Robert Rumpf
Dojo: Academy of Zen and the Ways
Location: Kailua, HI
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 164
United_States
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Using your partner's energy allows you to use less of your own, as either uke or nage. Moving in a straight line (over short distances) takes less energy than moving in less direct routes. Being relaxed allows for less heavy breathing and less exertion in general. Tense people breathe less too, so when they do breathe, they gasp.

I've found that taking firm stances, keeping my feet far apart, being stubborn, and making hard movements tends to tire me out. Wrestling, when you're not a wrestler, is exhausting. People who have strong muscles tend to use strength.. which takes energy as well as time. This is fortunately not a problem for me, as I am not strong.

Pete Trimmer once came to Pittsburgh and gave a seminar during a very hot day of which the topic was essentially "lazy Aikido" in his words. It was all about doing technique with less energy. Those lessons are very important at this time of year when its 90+ F in the dojo on a regular basis.

The value I placed on energy conservation became higher for me when I found that I needed to do multiple randori, and so was more in danger of getting exhausted. A while back I started to try to eliminate as much effort as I could from my training as a preparation for this. A summer in Florida training without AC also provided strong encouragement to minimize effort.

It was either that, or get in ridiculously good shape.. I'm too lazy to get in shape.

It is obvious in America at least that being good at Aikido doesn't require one to be... svelte. I believe that this is due to the fact that advanced practitioners have mastered economy of movement and exerting minimal effort. If they can do it, than why can't we?

One benefit of the softer styles of Aikido is that due to a greater attention to detail on this issue of relaxation, this lack of exertion can learned as a habit up front. Of course, sometimes the movements loose their effectiveness due to this focus, but you can learn effectiveness later.

The alternative from the harder styles seems to be focusing on softening your movements and making less movements at higher levels while focusing on effectiveness up front. I see no reason why this shouldn't work, as well.

I hope that helps,
Rob
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:26 AM   #3
paw
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 768
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Quote:
Stephen Thomas wrote:
Whats going on, someone mentioned it to me that there was fit & there was mat fit, is this true?
GPP (General Physical Preparation or "fitness") vs SSP (Sport Specific Preparation or "skill")

If someone is very skilled in aikido, movements should be smoother and more precise, which allows them to conserve energy while throwing, rolling and moving. A skilled person is generally more efficient and effective. Someone who isn't as sklled will need to compensate for lack of efficiency by using physical attributes, like trying to muscle through a technique, and that expends more energy. Or someone unskilled won't "relax" which burns energy like crazy.

Does that make sense?

There could also be an energy pathway issue at work. For example, someone might have great aerobic conditiong, but poor anaerobic conditioning. So if they have to run for hours, they are fine. Ask them to box for two or three rounds, and they are "winded".


Keep training, and I'm sure you'll adapt to aikido. But I'd continue your regular fitness routine as well. Being healthy and fit allows you to train aikido (and survive the bumps and bruises along the way).


Regards,

Paul
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:35 AM   #4
Bryan
Location: Vancouver Washington
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 21
United_States
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

There is also the aspect of tension and anxiety of learning new techniques and new ways of movement. This will burn up energy as well, your brain can burn many calories.

This is easily observable in contact sporting events...Boxing, TKD, ETC. Someone new to the ring will be tense and anxious. You may be able to throw punches or kicks to a heavy bag for an hour before feeling spent, but look how tired people get in just a few minutes of a competative event, even though they spend less time throwing fewer attacks.
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:15 AM   #5
Larry John
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Arlington VA
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 74
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

As someone who always seems to be in need of more relaxation on the mat, I agree with Rob. And the first line of Paul's response also points out a critical issue--the difference between your fitness program and the activities that may be stressing your body.

As a very gross example, no one would question the general fitness of an elite marathon runner. But if you ask him to pick up a shovel and dig a ditch, he may get gassed very quickly. Why? Because now he's executing an activity that has a very different set of fitness requirements than his fitness program provides.

Consider breathing. When I was a long distance runner (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth), I had to build a smooth breathing pattern that I could sustain throughout the run (in for three, out for three) to feed the slow-twitch muscles in my legs. In those days I could click off sub-5:30 miles for quite a while. But even small changes in the pattern could disrupt my running rhythm and lead to early failure. So I always had to run my own race, not try to pick up someone else's pace except in the final sprint. And I ended up being all legs and lungs, with no upper body strength.

So what happened when when my dad asked me to use a post hole digger for a couple of hours? I got gassed in less than 20 minutes. I couldn't use my three-and-three breathing pattern, because it didn't fit the activity--breathing for post hole digging is more explosive than smooth. And fast-twitch muscles that were not in my legs were making demands for oxygenated blood. From a cardio standpoint, I could recover pretty quickly, but would get tired even more quickly.

In the long run, of course, Dad made me finish the job, but it took longer than he'd hoped. As a side benefit, though, he did get to rib me quite a bit. He was NEVER a runner, but at 78 could still ply a shovel continuously for hours in the middle of August (he dug a 40-foot long, 3-foot deep drainage ditch at our house while Georganne and I were at work one day a few years ago).

The tie to Aikido? Until we reach the level of relaxation that Rob speaks of, we probably can't hope to use the kind of steady breathing pattern or fitness regimen a long distance runner uses. We're more likely to need the kind of pattern and regimen used by boxers--one that combines a base level of cardio fitness with the ability to conduct repeated, high energy bursts of large muscle activity. In other words, one that develops both aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

I believe this was the general conclusion of the "Similar Threads" listed below.

Larry
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Old 07-06-2005, 12:06 PM   #6
Michael Neal
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 600
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Try doing wind sprints either running or on an exercise bike, this builds anaerobic conditioning. The idea is to train yourself to go much harder than you practice in the dojo, so when you practice Aikido it becomes a cakewalk, at least as far as conditioning goes. It trains you to recover faster from quick burts of intense execricise.

Do 30 seconds as hard as you can go, then rest 30 seconds, or as long as it takes to recover fully. Repeat 6 or 7 times. And do this a couple of times a week.

This helps me immensely even for hard Judo matches, but when I stop doing this exercise for awhile I resort back to running out of gas very quickly, such is the condition I am in now Time to go back to the sprinting, this topic has reminded me how much I have slipped up in this area.

But I would also take Rob's comments into consideration as well, you might be using too much muscle. Try relaxing more and incorporating this exercise and you will never feel winded again if you keep it up.
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Old 07-06-2005, 03:59 PM   #7
Stethomas
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 22
United Kingdom
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Thanks guys, i understand what you mean about relaxing as well Rob cheers for that.

Michael, glad i could be of some help in making you realise you need to start up your running again. Running was my thing just before Aikido, used to love now im more into swimming though i find this helps with my breathing, relaxing etc...

Cheers everyone..
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Old 07-06-2005, 07:07 PM   #8
aikigirl10
Dojo: Aikido of Ashland
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 395
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

i tend to have this same problem. Im extremely athletic, doing softball, volleyball, swimming, and 2 kinds of martial arts. And i've discovered that each activity i do requires a different kind of excercise. Such as , when i get home from shaolin , my legs are sore, when i get home from softball my arms are sore, when i get home from volleyball , my wrists are sore, etc. Doing something new may just require different muscles to be brought out. So , IMO , yes there is a difference between being fit and being "mat fit" .

-paige
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:28 PM   #9
markwalsh
Dojo: Airenjuku Brighton
Location: On the road - UK
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 515
United Nations
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Stephen - In general aikido gets physically easier the longer you practice as you relax into it, that's why many senior grades are fat The really senior grades are generally skinnier though, so either you start burning more calories again, or the fat ones just die off. Who knows?

I've found that no matter how fit I am, some instructors can have turn me into a jellyfish 30 seconds. Generally the ones that are powerful, but also creative and unpredictable, so they throw you off your rhythm and breath. Something in that.

Mark
PS - Nice to see some of the American's have figured out what "knackkered" means. Originally it meant tired after sex BTW.
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Old 07-07-2005, 04:55 AM   #10
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 643
Israel
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Another issue to consider is rest, if you practice too much, you are no longer helping your body to get in shape. You must have sufficient time to recuperate from one activity to the next.

Amir
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Old 07-07-2005, 07:23 AM   #11
philipsmith
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 312
United Kingdom
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Quote:
Mark Walsh wrote:
Stephen - In general aikido gets physically easier the longer you practice as you relax into it, that's why many senior grades are fat .
Mark, I don't know who you could be thinking of .

One other aspect of "mat fitness" is the falling involved. A study a few years ago on Rugby players showed that those who stayed on their feet longer when tackled had more energy at the end of the game than those who "went to ground" . The energy involved in picking up your body is quite large (around 700 Newtons of force for an averagely built woman) and you may do that i.e. take ukeme, up to 100 times per session. I dont know the calorific expenditure just imagine how you would feel after 100 press-ups!
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Old 07-27-2005, 01:12 PM   #12
pezalinski
 
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Dojo: Aikido of Harvard (IL)
Location: harvard, IL
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 159
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

We just had a big discussion on this in our dojo. We were discussing how new people how considereed themselves to be "fit" (like marathon runners and cyclists) were suprised by how quickly they fatigued, practicing Aikido on the mats. We concluded it was the "fall down, get up, repeat as necessary" aspect of training.

Ukemi, ukemi, ukemi -- the quieter it is, the more efficient it is, the less energy you expend.


A little danger is a knowledge thing...

"Helping the planet make an impact on people, since 1985"
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Old 07-27-2005, 04:57 PM   #13
Aiki Teacher
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland , TX
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 62
United_States
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Re: Mat Fit Compared To Overall Fitness

Quote:
Stephen Thomas wrote:
Just a quick question im sure has been around many times before. Why is it i get so knackkered Aikido training when im probley the fittest person there.

No one else i know does any other training & i do running, swimming, football etc... Yet am still always thirsty LOL

Whats going on, someone mentioned it to me that there was fit & there was mat fit, is this true? Do i just need to keep training to get more & more mat fit.

Thanks in advance..
Stephen I also run but I do not have the super thirst problem you talk about.
Now, I do know that being thirsty all the time cn be a sign of diabetes. Just a thought. It may be something you want to check into. My wife and I both have close relatives who struggle with it.
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