My Strength Lies Within?

I noticed yesterday a leg muscle was sore and as the class progressed I felt the unpleasantness grow.

I suppose this is an aspect of any physical pursuit, sometimes something gets hurt. I don't think the problem was from any particular technique, rather it is as if I pushed too hard during a leg stretch. The upshot is that with each thing we practiced I tried not to use my leg muscles. I had to attempt to avoid using any lower body force or my upper thighs would scream at me.

Not being an athlete I am unused to such problems but it makes me think this......Even acknowledging body ailments are part of any physical endeavor I wonder if there is a feature of Aikido that is fundamentally different from other athletic pursuits. I mean, if you hurt your arm in Baseball, you have to stop throwing until it heals. If you pull a leg muscle in football, surely you can't run while hurt. Basically the muscles are the part of the body that drives the sport. But in Aikido the muscles shouldn't be the force behind the technique, and if you use strength to compensate for lack of technique you actually deviate from the whole point of using the attacker's energy to diffuse the situation and bring it all to harmony. Therefore if you are forced into not using muscle you actually do better at the “sport”.

There is an often told story (told by me at least) perhaps apocryphal*, that I think I read of O'sensei telling somebody that even he didn't appreciate the moves of Aikido until he was in his 70s and he could no longer rely on strength to complete the move, he could only use the essence of Aikido to complete the technique. Where else would a bodily ailment actually lead you to a better result?
*(I just love to use that phrase, "perhaps apocryphal")

Of course I don't know if I actually improved, but I did discover that to do whatever technique was required, I was forced to move with my whole body rather than straining my legs to finish the move.

That said....I read this at an Aikido blog where an injury is a bit more serious. “Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a subdural haematoma and admitted to hospital for surgery almost immediately. The internal bleeding that was crushing my brain, causing violent headaches and swollen eyes, was the result of an injury sustained in the dojo more than two months earlier.” uchuuaiki.blogspot.com


jrfiction said...

Zeppo, thanks for the link, I hope your leg is feeling better. I certainly am, and I am in a much better mood than when I wrote that post.

One of the things that became really dangerous for me just before going into hospital was I could train just as hard with my injury. The pain was there, but I thought it should not interfere with my waza. In fact the pain helped me focus on better technique, and as a result my tobi ukemi actually improved a little in the lead up to our demonstration in Tokyo.

If you think about it, this is how the body would react if wounded and in mortal danger. Pouring more strength or power into an effort would only waste energy, increase the pain and shorten the time before inevitable death. Through pain we learn to come closer to our bodies.

Having said that, I was ignorant for a time of my own condition, and that probably made things worse. I remember remarking to a workmate that I could feel my brain sloshing around as I shook my head. It was the blood pooling in my head, the torn blood vessels and connective tissue I felt, and it was painful. I knew something was wrong but did nothing about it.

I love Aikido, and I have resolved to find a way to train that doesn't put me at further risk of injury. Thanks for post, and I really enjoy your illustrations so please keep it up.

ZeppoManx said...

Gracias for the comment and I'm glad to hear you are felling better.

"This goal was nearly the end of me" was a heck of a blog entry an really made me pause for a moment. I hope you keep posting about Aikido.

You may have heard something like this before, but our Sensei often comments that he practices Aikido at work, even while sitting at a computer screen.

¡Buenas suertes!