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Old 02-22-2006, 07:05 PM   #1
ukedave's Avatar
Dojo: Sand Drift Aikido
Location: Tropic, FL
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 5
Wink Physical Handicaps & Aikido

I have been doing Aikido for some ten years now. I have several physical handicaps that effect my style right down to my stance and I am looking for anyone in a similar situation. We cant all have the uninjured, basically symmetrical body that would make Aikido easiest and more natural. I have had many teachers and have found it very hard to get them to take my handicapped anatomy into consideration during class. Some teachers (I teach myself too) have absolutely no tolerance for the differences in their student's anatomy and it has made classes quite unenjoyable at times, mostly in the very early years before I had the nerve to try and explain my condition. It was aggravating to be harped on for doing a technique around a condition as best I could when I know my body best and what I can and can not do. I cant find any information on this by just Googling so I am placing questions directly on some Aikido only forums in search for more info. Due to both my hip and my knee being asymmetrical my hanmi stance on the right side is very exaggerated. It is close to some 50 degrees or more as opposed to a more common angle of say 20 degrees. It is mostly due to my hip and can be seen if I just lay flat on the floor and let my feet fall free into a tensionless position. Where as my left foot is just slightly pointed to the left, my right is about 30 degrees to the right. If I straighten it, you would see my rear and whole leg lift up on the right side since it forces my hip joint into an unnatural position, the leg and knee actually lift up off the ground. This is pretty convincing and I used to have to do demonstrate this to get Sensei's off my back and let me work my body into Aikido, not work Aikido into my body. My knee adds some extra influence since I had surgery on it when I was 22 and the meniscus was removed (though I wasnt told that). I was told that a tear was merely trimmed away and it was good as new. So I ran with it this way for some twenty years and my right foot was always quite far out during running. Otherwise I get a painful clicking in my knee and pain in my hip.

So I am looking for others to join in this discussion. Just because we are handicapped in some way and cant pull off excellent technique, we dont love Aikido any less than others. My story probably pales in comparison to others out there so I am starting this in hopes of getting the subject more attention. Surely others have run into this problem with their teachers as well. Doing a tenkan on my right side is difficult since I am starting off at quite an odd angle so my style has adjusted around this deformity over the years. If you know of anyone who has written about Aikido and handicaps please refer me. If you have any references or your own experiences I would appreciate you posting it, or perhaps you can refer me to someone else. We are not looking for sympathy, just understanding. Thanks.
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Old 02-22-2006, 07:22 PM   #2
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,888
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido

Seek yea Sensei Molly Hale and tell her i sent you.

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 02-22-2006, 08:03 PM   #3
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,220
United Kingdom
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido

Just because we are handicapped in some way and cant pull off excellent technique, we dont love Aikido any less than others.
Absolutely, I couln't agree more. I believe aikido is for everyone, as long as you can get on the mat you deserve to learn.
I'm sure some teachers are more able / willing to work with different physical types. My own experience was learning with a teacher who himself had a physical problem. from a very young age he had a muscle wasting disease ( polio I think) that left him with very little muscle on either leg, also some early surgery had fused some of his ankle bones which left his feet a bit crooked. He has very little lower body strength, but this in no way held back his progress in aikido, in fact in some ways I'm sure it has led him to the very powerfull ki based style that he now has, ( I used to be his uke and can vouch for that! ). He swears that it is only the co-ordination that he has learned from the practice of aikido that keeps him out of a wheelchair, ( some in the medical proffession dont think he should be able to walk with the condition he has )
So keep at it Dave you have as much right as anyone to train, If your current teacher is unsympathetic, maybe there is someone not to far away that would be? Sorry I can't suggest any books or places to go. I see Lynn has , that must be worth a follow up.
At the end of the day, there are no prizes for having 'perfect technique' whatever that is, surely what matters is how what we do in aikido affects as as people. I would rather be around a genuinely good person with bad technique, than with an a##hole with perfect technique.


Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 02-22-2006, 08:09 PM   #4
wmreed's Avatar
Dojo: Columbus Aikikai
Location: Columbus, OH
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 107
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido

Mike Pabst is in Ohio. There were some photos on the home page a few days ago of him...

William M. Reed
Columbus, OH USA
"I'm not the author William Reed -- yet."
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Old 02-23-2006, 11:28 AM   #5
James Davis
James Davis's Avatar
Dojo: Ft. Myers School of Aikido
Location: Ft. Myers, FL.
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 716
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido

Mark Freeman wrote:
I would rather be around a genuinely good person with bad technique, than with an a##hole with perfect technique.

Oh hell yeah!

I have a lot of respect for anyone who sets out to improve themselves in some way, regardless of their speed or degree of success. Ukedave, We all have physical shortcomings of some kind, and I hope you find a teacher who can help you work around yours. Regardless of your circumstances, please don't quit.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 02-23-2006, 04:03 PM   #6
Larry John
Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia
Location: Arlington VA
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 74
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido


Was it not Saotome-sensei who taught Dennis Hooker-sensei who has myasthenia gravis?


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Old 02-23-2006, 08:00 PM   #7
crbateman's Avatar
Location: Orlando, FL
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,502
Re: Physical Handicaps & Aikido

Larry John wrote:

Was it not Saotome-sensei who taught Dennis Hooker-sensei who has myasthenia gravis?

Yes, it was (and still is).
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