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Old 01-05-2005, 10:29 AM   #1
Tim Heckman
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Aikido & Pilates

I took a Pilates class with my wife last night on an aikido off night, and enjoyed it. It felt like it opened and strengthened my hips, and worked on some small muscles that are probably weak and degrade my stability in aikido. Plus, it has this emphasis on strengthening your core, which is suspiciously close to my hara...

Does anyone have significant experience in both Pilates and Aikido? What are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Tim

"Shut up and train."-- Fumio Toyoda
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Old 01-05-2005, 11:25 AM   #2
sunny liberti
 
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

I don't rate as "significant" experience with either, but I wholeheartedly agree that pilates is just good. There's no down-side that I can find. And whose aikido wouldn't get better with improved posture, stronger core, and more coordinated movement?!

Sunny

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Old 01-05-2005, 11:39 AM   #3
j0nharris
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Well, I've training in Aikido for about 10 years, and went to a Pilates class a couple of months ago.
They were pretty flexible, but their ukemi left a lot to be desired! Especially with those tiny mats they use

I'm not sure why they haven't asked me back??

jon harris

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Old 01-05-2005, 02:16 PM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Pilates should be a good supplement for aikido. I've only had a brief intro to it but want to find a way to integrate it into my routine. Only thing I find is that the breathing pattern is different, isn't it?

Janet Rosen
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Old 01-05-2005, 03:23 PM   #5
Tim Heckman
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Breathe?? My sensei still yells at me to breath while doing simple techniques. You mean I have to breath during Pilates too? Next thing you know, I'll be breathing all the time!

"Shut up and train."-- Fumio Toyoda
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Old 01-05-2005, 06:29 PM   #6
Jordan Steele
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

My sensei is a certified pilates teacher and a personal trainer. I use his personal training services about once every six months and have been to a few pilates classes. Pilates is truly an excellent complement to Aikido on the conditioning side. It doesn't do a whole lot cardiovascularly but everything else (strength, posture, flexibility, etc) is improved. The effects are subtle but powerful.
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Old 01-06-2005, 01:11 AM   #7
JJF
 
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Tim Heckman wrote:
Breathe?? My sensei still yells at me to breath while doing simple techniques. You mean I have to breath during Pilates too? Next thing you know, I'll be breathing all the time!
Actually that might not be as bad as it sounds. I know it's a radical thought - but you really ought to give it a try

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

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Old 01-06-2005, 10:55 AM   #8
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

I've heard Ellis Amdur has used Pilates and liked the benefits in relation to martial arts in general...Ellis...are you out there? Maybe he could share some thoughts...

Ron

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Old 01-10-2005, 12:14 AM   #9
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

No, never did Pilates. I've studied (and continue to study) Gyrotonic. This is another method of core strength building. Perhaps the best way to distinguish the two is that Pilates emphasizes contraction and linear movement, whereas Gyrotonic focuses on spiral expansion out from the core. Sort of like Bagua compared to xingyi . . . or Yamaguchi's aikido compared to Saito's. What both these system's offer the martial artist is the building of flexible strength for the stabilizer muscles - the muscles lengthen, and most of the strength building is at the attachments rather than the belly of the muscle. One becomes stronger in an almost infinite amount of configurations, so that in the random movements, torques and stresses of martial practice, the body is protected. Finally, the focus on the core (trunk/abdomen/ perinium) means that the back is protected and that one trains to move powerfully with integrated strength. As for Gyrotonic, you can get some idea of it (and some pictures of the equipment) at www.gyrotonicseattle.com

best

Ellis

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Old 01-10-2005, 06:14 AM   #10
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote:
What both these system's offer the martial artist is the building of flexible strength for the stabilizer muscles - the muscles lengthen, and most of the strength building is at the attachments rather than the belly of the muscle.
Respectfully, I challenge anyone to produce evidence that either pilates, gyrotonic or yoga is capable of lengthening muscles. Baring surgery, that simply isn't possible.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:01 AM   #11
rob_liberti
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Basicallly, people develop patterns in the way they hold their body that result in muscles not being used in the optimal way. When you correct that you get the sensation of them "lengthening" - which is probably more accurately them just stretching out.

Look at yourself standing naturally in a mirror and notice your hands. If you see the back of your hands, odds are that you have an unhealthy pattern or two (or more). If you see the palms of your hands (be honest!) then I'd say odds are that your posture is much closer to optimal than the average person.

People who do Alexander Method talk about the sensation of your muscles lengthening and widening. This is pertenant to aikido in that I'd say many people in aikido have unhealthy body issues that really restrict/prevent reflexive movement.

I wouldn't say that yoga/pilates is the best thing to fix that specific problem I mentioned above. (I'd go find a St. John's method neuromuscular theropist for that one.) But, these problems cause weaknesses in core muscle areas and I have seen nothing better than the yoga/pilates combination to help. Core strength and flexibility are critical to aikido especially for developing fudoshin (unmoveable mind/mody).

Rob
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:41 AM   #12
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
When you correct that you get the sensation of them "lengthening" - which is probably more accurately them just stretching out.
So there isn't any evidence of muscle lengthening and instead pilates/yoga/gyrotonic are using misleading terminology. Is that the jist of your post?

Regards,

Pauol
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Old 01-10-2005, 07:56 AM   #13
rob_liberti
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Well, yes and no.
Yes - I agree that it is a bit misleading but not terribly so.
and No - The "gist" would ALSO have to include that there are many posture and core strength and flexibilty problems - which these activities help.

Rob
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Old 01-10-2005, 09:00 AM   #14
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Well, yes and no.
Yes - I agree that it is a bit misleading but not terribly so.and No - The "gist" would ALSO have to include that there are many posture and core strength and flexibilty problems - which these activities help.
I guess I don't see how it isn't, at best, misleading, and at worst.... The muscles do not lengthen.

It appears you are suggesting that pilates/yoga/gyrotonic improve flexibility and strengthen muscles allowing for improved posture (which is then misinterpreted as "lengthening"). I suspect, given the many ads and promotional material concerning yoga and pilates that a fair number of instructors are not concerned with correcting this misunderstanding..

In any case, if that is your point, then there is no reason to presume that yoga/pilates/gyrotonic is the only way to improve core strength and flexibility, nor that yoga/pilates/gyrotonic is the best way to improve core strength and flexibility...much less improving core strength and flexibility specifically for aikido.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 09:58 AM   #15
Qatana
 
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

This morning I could not put my head on the floor between my legs. After my yoga practice I could. How can you explain this beyond "muscles lenghthening"?

Any object that is able to contract is by definition able to lenghthen. This does not mean you can make your muscles grow longer, it means they can be lenghthened from a Contracted position.You can also stretch something past its limits, which will cause profound contraction- this would be called a cramp.

Q
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:04 AM   #16
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Jo, I was formulating my reply as I read down the thread, and now I see you have gotten there a bit ahead of me. Yes, muscles especially those with trigger point contractions, often exist in chronically shortened form either within the segments of the muscle or along its length. A variety of therapies can release these contractions, in effect restoring the muscle to its normal "longer" state. Another example is how after one side of your body worked on, whether in massage, chiropractic, stretching, etc, you will indeed be longer on that side--more space opens up in the hip area and that foot is definitely further from your head than the other foot.
I have an appt with a pilates rehab person late this month and will keep aikiweb posted on how it goes.

Janet Rosen
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:38 AM   #17
Tim Heckman
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Paul,

I am curious as to whether you have any suggestions for improving flexibility/core strength specifically for aikido. I'm an occasional practitioner of yoga, and as mentioned in the opening post, have only taken one pilates class. However, at thirty-five years old, and having worked in a lot of jobs involving repetitive motion, my body has a lot of flexibility/muscle pain issues which an aikido practice of several hours a week has not improved significantly.

Thanks,
Tim

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Old 01-10-2005, 11:40 AM   #18
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

In reverse order.....

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
Any object that is able to contract is by definition able to lenghthen. This does not mean you can make your muscles grow longer, it means they can be lenghthened from a Contracted position.
I agree, although I would have said "it means they can return to the original, relaxed state".

My point is, since mucles cannot grow longer once a person is full developed, it's misleading (at best) to say "activity X lengthens muscles". I feel it would be more honest to say, "activity X improves flexibility or improves/restores natural range of motion".


Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
This morning I could not put my head on the floor between my legs. After my yoga practice I could.
Is putting your head on the floor between your legs a common position in aikido? Is putting your head on the floor between your legs advantegeous in aikido? Is pilates/yoga/gyrotonic the only way (or the best way) to develop the ability to put your head on the floor between your legs?

I would submit that putting your head on the floor is a common position in aikido, and it is not advantageous in aikido to do so, in the same way that I believe it is not necessary in aikido to bench press 300 pounds, nor advantageous to do so.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:53 AM   #19
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Tim Heckman wrote:
Paul,

I am curious as to whether you have any suggestions for improving flexibility/core strength specifically for aikido.
I have none. As far as I know, no one has studied aikido in depth enough to make suggestions for specific physical development or training routines. In contrast, Wayland Pulkinnen has studied judo enough to make suggestions, as he does in his book, The Sport Science of Elite Judo Athletes.

Quote:
Tim Heckman wrote:
I'm an occasional practitioner of yoga, and as mentioned in the opening post, have only taken one pilates class. However, at thirty-five years old, and having worked in a lot of jobs involving repetitive motion, my body has a lot of flexibility/muscle pain issues which an aikido practice of several hours a week has not improved significantly.
It's one issue to say yoga improves flexibility or decreases muscle pain issues for you or for anyone else. Obviously, if yoga is working for you, my advice is to keep with it, provided your doctor agrees.

It's another issue to suggest that yoga is the only way to improve flexibility or decrease muscle pain issues. It's another issue still to suggest that yoga is the "best" way to improve flexibility or decrease muscle pain issues. It's yet another issue to suggest that yoga is the "best" way to improve flexibility or decrease muscle pain issues specifically for aikido.

I suppose that my posts on this issue appear that I'm anti-yoga/pilates/gyrotonic. I am not (though you may not believe that). I do object to the misleading (at best) terminology of "lengthens muscles" as I hope I explained previously. I also object to the idea that "activity X is the best for developing attribute Y for aikido" as I don't believe there's any real basis to make that statement.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:03 PM   #20
Qatana
 
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Paul
If you pay attention to any of my postings I have repeatedly observed that flexibility is not at all integral to aikido. If it was, there wouldn't be any yudansha in my dojo.
Believe it or not, I do other physical practices, other than aikido, which require a high degree of flexibility. In order to perform the CanCan, you better believe i better be able to sit in a straddle and put my head on the ground. And do splits.In order to do some of the modelling jobs I have done, I'd Beter be able to do a backbend and endure holding a position with the help of outside support for extended periods of times.And the fact that I am able to do these things at 48 years of age leads me to believe I might just have a clue as to what I am talking about.
Flexibility just comes in real handy in my lines of work.

Q
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:35 PM   #21
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
Paul
..snip
Jo,

If you had the impression that my reply to you was a personal attack/slight in some way I assure you that was not my intention.

Please accept my sincere apologies for any anger you may have felt, and please contact me via aiki-mail if you would like to discuss this further.

My point, which I actually think (hope) I made more clearly in my response to Tim, is one of "carryover". Cycling may improve endurance as can swimming, but neither are the only ways to build endurance, and neither is the best way to train for running a marathon, which is also in part, a test of endurance.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:39 PM   #22
Qatana
 
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Paul, you asked:

"Is putting your head on the floor between your legs a common position in aikido? Is putting your head on the floor between your legs advantegeous in aikido? Is pilates/yoga/gyrotonic the only way (or the best way) to develop the ability to put your head on the floor between your legs?"

I gave you the best answer I could. By telling you why I, Personally, need to be able to do these things. I thought we were talking about flexiblilty in general, not aikido in specific.

Q
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:44 PM   #23
rob_liberti
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Hi Paulo,

Whom are you arguing with? I just did a word search on this thread to find the word "best". It seems like the only one to specifically make reference to yoga/pilates being the best for flexibility and/or specifically for aikido is YOU. Got back and re-read and you'll see that no one else said that!

Also, you seem to have a hang up where you think "lengthen" means "grow" and the rest of the folks on the thread all seem to agree that "lengthen" is a perfectly normal way to describe muscle activity going to a "relaxed state". I suggest you let it go and return to a "relaxed state". You might find that you'll "grow".

No one needs to be able to do a full Chinese split for aikido. But I think we agree that some flexibility is integral to aikido. Especially mental flexibility...

Rob
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Old 01-10-2005, 01:10 PM   #24
paw
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
Hi Paulo,

Whom are you arguing with? I just did a word search on this thread to find the word "best".
I wasn't under the impression that I was arguing with anyone. Unless I'm mistaken, I used the phrase "the only way or the best way" or words to that effect each time.

Quote:
Also, you seem to have a hang up where you think "lengthen" means "grow" and the rest of the folks on the thread all seem to agree that "lengthen" is a perfectly normal way to describe muscle activity going to a "relaxed state".
I don't think I have a hang up about this. A lot of activities improve flexibility or range of motion: gymnastics, some dancing, Olympic weightlifting...but I'm only aware of pilates and yoga using the terminology of "lengthening muscles" and haven't encountered it elsewhere.

Now that might just be the term that pilates and yoga use to refer to improved flexibility/improved range of motion. But, that certainly wasn't the case with my yoga instructors, nor do I believe that to be the case with a fair amount of the yoga/pilates literature I've read. And you yourself admitted the term is somewhat misleading, so I should hope that any confusion on my part is at least somewhat understandable.

Quote:
I suggest you let it go and return to a "relaxed state". You might find that you'll "grow".
Oh, it's gone, Rob. I care far less about this than you can imagine.

Regards,

Paul
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:13 PM   #25
rob_liberti
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Re: Aikido & Pilates

Seriously, sorry if I'm teasing too much! I couldn't resist.

As I said before the Alexander Method folks also use the term lengthening. And also as I said before, the term might be a little misleading - but not terribly so. Most of the folks on the thread seem to know exactly what is meant by it. If this helps, consider that when I blow air into a baloon, it "lengthens" and "widens" eventhough the amount of rubber that comprises the baloon doesn't "grow". I like more explicit terminology myself. I can get to LA via Omaha because "via" means "by way of" and I have to read about people getting to the internet via the browser at my job (where they want via to mean "by means of") - and well I just have to let it go because pretty much everyone knows what they mean and that is the evolution of language - like it or not.

As far as aikido goes - to keep this somewhat on topic here - people mistranslated a term in Japanese to mean "extension" when they should have said "expansion" about 30+ years ago and that's done a lot of damage to many people's aikido paradigm since. Things like yoga and pilates go a long way towards fixing that problem as well!

Rob
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