General health issues.


  1. A Burnout/lack of enthusiasm
  2. B Cancer
  3. C Blood borne pathogen policy
  4. D HIV
  5. E Diabetes
  6. F Head injuries- strokes and concussion
  7. G Joint hypermobility
  8. H Pregnancy
  9. I Old age and ukemi


On Sun, 26 Mar 1995, John Peabody wrote:

> I am a nidan in Okinawan Shorin Ryu and have been a student for about 15 > years. I also have been teaching for some time. My question has to do > with burn out. I have not had the desire to go to the dojo for about 3 > months now and have talked to my sensei about it. I am taking a leave od > abbsence at his direction at this time but stil don't seem to have the > old desire. Does anyone have advise or ever had the a simaliar experance. >
> Please help.
> John

From Doug Johnson


This is a good question and a goo topic. I think everyone who has studied intensly for several years at some point experiences burn out. I have felt it as I began teaching several years ago. I found I was teaching more and training less and getting burned out. On the other hand, teaching can be exilerating and it has been a sourse of great inspiration. I found, for me, that looking inward is a cure for burn out. Not the "new age" psycho-babble, yuppied, crap of looking inward we usually hear these days, but real, honest, very difficult inward examination. For me I found one of the best vehicles is zazen. After sitting for a long time it helps strip away all the attachments and self delusions we build up and we begin to see ourselves honestly. This is refreshing and invigorating. It takes a good long time and a lot of discipline and it is not easy.....but worth it. I'm still working at it. Just what has helped me, hope it can help you...

From: James


I've never experienced it myself, but my sensei did about 1.5-2 years ago. For about three months he turned the instruction over to yudansha and came along once or twice a week to train rather than teach. After a few months of this he came back to training full time, but with a whole idea of where he wanted his Aikido to go. So the training is now very different and he (sensei) is I guess revitalised.

Maybe this will work for you, a change of styles of Aikido to experience something different.

From: Debora Thompson

I've never had this experience, but I may have some ideas to help you get out of a stuck place. Obviously, after 15 years, you have managed to get yourself through some personal obstacles, philosophical differences and physical challenges regarding your training. This "burnout" must be a more serious problem than the usual "lack of motivation" which one can feel on occasion. I think it's important to train through such minor glitches, but the description of your situation seems different.

In my Karatedo club we follow a dojo-kun which we say before and after every class. The last statement is "Karatedo is a lifetime study." This helps me to keep going in tough times, because I know that I have an indefinite period of time to grow and learn. It is also a commitment to training. It is also a metaphor. If I were only to follow this tenet in the literal sense, it would be a difficult commitment to make. How could I, in good conscience, state that I will always study karatedo? The circumstances of my life have changed, and will continue to change, perhaps to the point where the disadvantages of formal training in the Martial Arts will outweigh the advantages. I believe that when this happens, it will be time for me to move on. Luckily, there are many passions that one can apply martial principles to.

I think whatever you do, don't sit around and mope about not training. Train through the problem, or turn around freely and discover something new. Just imagine all that you can accomplish if you use the time, energy and money that go into MA training for another purpose.

Just so you have some context for this advice. I have only been training for 2.5 years in karatedo, and 7 months in Aikido, so I can't even imagine what you're going through. Perhaps someone who has trained for 20 or 40 years would say something very different.

From: Debora Thompson

So easy to speak from the perspective of a student. Impossible to think from the perspective of a teacher. Doug reminds me that a teachers responsibilities reach far beyond personal satisfaction or self-realization.

I think about what I would say to my own teacher if he came to me and said, "I'm feeling a little burnt out. What should I do?" I surely wouldn't say, "Gee, Sensei, maybe you should give yourself a little break. Take up piano. You can always apply all your martial expertise to that noble endeavor." Selfishly, I would want him to stay and be my teacher. I would think about all the knowledge locked in his mind that would never be passed on. That's one of the beautiful things about Martial Arts, for the most part it is passed directly from one human being to another. Even if some sort of deal could be made, where a sensei could quit teaching as long as they wrote down every unexplained technique, every bit of wisdom, every martial experience they held in their mind, the student would lose out. Because all we would get would be a snapshot of learning, we would not benefit from the experience of one who was him/herself still on a path, still overcoming obstacles in order to give us an incredible gift.

From: doug johnson


I believe it is easy to forget that teaching, in all its forms is a dangerous thing to do. A strange thing to say? Maybe, but if one gives 110% in teaching (Aikido or anything else) as most good teachers do, it is an expendature of Ki and
if that Ki is not replenished it is easy to get really burned out. I have seen people who are excellent teachers, give and give and never repenish
their Ki and they burn out big time. We talk a lot about Ki extension but not enough about gathering KI. It can be done in many different ways; misogi breathing, ki therapy, ki-atsu (being done on you), zazen, 1000 shomen cuts with a bokken or better a suburi, etc. These are things that need to be done to take care of oneself.

Teaching is not thought of as a dangerous thing, but often in our zeal to teach and extend Ki we forget to take care of ourselves. I have experienced depletion of Ki and is not good. Good Training. Doug Johnson,
Reseda, CA

From: Brian Cochran

In your post describing the feelings of being burnt-out, you mention the feeling that the old desire to train isn't there anymore. You might consider that this is an important feeling in terms of your growth , both in MA and in your life.

I've just gone through a similar experience to what you describe. I started teaching 4 Aikido classes about two years ago, along with my regular training. Previous to this It was common for me to train 3-5 days a week for 3-4 hrs. a day in the dojo, and then spend time out of the dojo on weapons forms, etc. The upshot being that for over two years before I started teaching, I invested a huge portion of my time and life in Aikido. It helped me get to where I am today.

A few months after I started teaching, I noticed myself training less and less. At first I felt guilty, and made excuses why I shouldn't train, and ran the whole emotional gamut about training vs. not-training. The overwhelming feeling during this time was the feeling that you describeed about the old desires.

To make a long story shorter, this period of burn-out lasted about a year. To my surprise, after resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't traning much anymre, that new desires and reasons for training were trying to get out. Now, I'm teching as before, and have found new energy for training.

I would suggest that you relax ito this problem. Let yourself take time off if neccessary, spend time reading about your MA or watching videos. Don't just quit cold-turkey, but give yourself space to grow out of the old ways, and into some new ones. It might surprise you what you will find.


From: Dee Ann

I know where you are coming from (being a cancer survivor myself -- from one of the deadliest --and sneakiest types --ovarian). I want to try everything and yet I take one day at a time. "I see life in little chunks right
now...the longer I'm clean the more I can see it as one big span of years." Also :-)
And I'm so young --at 41.

My first martial art is Tai Chi (Yang Style). I started back to work and Tai Chi classes last January after 5 months of Chemo. - Aikido came along in March. There are differences and similarities. Forunately for me?? my instructors know each other and I get in trouble for mixing up --but they know why. I feel like a guina pig. Maybe because this is a college setting - we are all open to listen and try each others arts?? One likes to taste before buying??

I'm of the same theory as Fred. I wanted anything that would build my immune system and improve my circulation as it was at such a low ebb after the Chemo.
Without the prior insight,(building internal strength) this is where and how I feel good. Afterall, If ones stops moving, one is dead.

From: Fred Rachford


I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this yet and I don't mean to be presumptuous, but if you have just recovered from cancer it might be best to stick with soft martial arts like Aikido and Tai Chi for health reasons. Ki/Chi practices fortify your immune response. Hard styles often drain your Chi. I know this sounds hooky but its conventional wisdom and is consistent with my own experience. Of course, Chi Kung, Yoga, meditation and ki breathing are also beneficial.

From: "Dean C. Harris"

Interesting...but I'm not quite just getting over it. Doesn't sound hokey to me. There's definitly a link between the way you feel and your physical health. I really didn't have many options to me at the time I started Aikido. I had surgery which split my abdominal muscles from pelvis to sternum. Even practicing backrolls made me feel like my guts were gonna fly out. But I started Aikido about 8 weeks after chemo ended. It's been a year and 9 going on 10 months. I'm now far more physically fit then before the cancer hit.



From: Robert Rowzee

I have another question. Since I work with many HIV+ patients, one question that occurs to me is;

What do ya'll think of an HIV+ person in the dojo?

What would you do if one of your students confided that he/she was HIV+?

From: Stefan Stenudd

Well, I haven't come across it in the dojo, but I did lead a course in self defence for gays, some years ago, and if I remember correctly, some of them were HIV+. So I guess I'd do what I did then about it: nothing.

It's not a bit heroic of me, of course, as this disease is not easily transmitted. Much safer with HIV+ people in the dojo, than people with scarlet fever, chicken pox or the common cold.

Certainly the disease itself is horrible, but also all those myths around it, and what they do to people.

From: Terry Roberts

As a fellow student, I would probably be irrational enough to take more pains to be proper if s/he started bleeding than with other people. If I were the dojocho, I would review his/her responsibilities about blood with him/her, and make sure s/he knew where the first aid kit was.

We have a couple pretty blatant gay guys in our dojo. I have no idea of their HIV status. They are a delight to train with, and I've never noticed anyone giving them any kind of a hard time.

From: Fred Rachford

We can all think of various senerios for transmission but what are the true porbabilities; is it 10e-6 per class, 10e-23 per class, 10e-40 per dojo interaction? (If it were as high as 10e-4 we would know all about it by now.) If we give all senarios equal weight we will all end up like Howard Hughes, imobilized by fear of bugs. Present evidence may be uncertain but that propabably indicates that the probability of casual including dojo transmission is very small indeed. I assume that if someone is diagnosed HIV+ that he/she will get conseling and will ask the conselor if they should continue Aikido practice and will follow that advice.

E Diabetes

From: Jim Summers

I am diabetic (IDDM) on the insulin pump. Does anyone have any suggestions on healthy ways to pump Blood Sugar before class? Currently I am swigging 'Sunny Delight', which seems to give a good rush of glucose 10-15 minutes into class, with a second wind about 45 minutes into class as the fructose comes on-line. Anyone else in a similar situation? Anyone else on a pump and trying to to slice open their hip on a syringe housing while taking ukemi?

From: "Craig G. Hocker"

I don't drink the stuff, is Sunny D very sweet ? (i.e. lots of sugar ?)

As a biker, my preferred sugar solution is orange juice diluted by half with water for long rides. Your body absorbs dilute sugar solutions more easily and quickly than concentrated sugar solutions preventing delayed effects.
(the reason gatorade and it's ilk taste so bland, the salts they add as I understand it are not really necessary for 2 hours of intense physical activity).
Especially so, when you are becoming dehydrated from physical activity. Now, I sip this solution periodically whether or not I am really thirsty because if one waits until you feel really thirsty then your performance will be seriously impaired.

I suppose it would depend on your sensei's attitude, but if it wasn't too disruptive, you could sip a diluted juice solution every %15 minutes or so to maintain a more even balance.

I don't know what's preferred for a diabetic on a pump: Fructose or Glucose. Glucose would seem to be trickier because of the secondary turnover into fructose, but maybe the longer half-life ?

someone willing to take ukemi with an insulin pump gets my respect!

From: tomm

Fructose is much preferred because it does not produce the blood-sugar spike nor kick in the insulin response as does sucrose. You will find a level sugar response with excellent results in workout. There are sports products available which use fructose instead of the usual.


From Al Beggs>

As a recent newcomer to this list I haven't put in any comments so far but I just wish to agree with other comments suggesting that dilute orange juice from frozen concentrate is the best way to go. Dilute orange juice has proven over and over again to be one of the best glucose sources for diabetics during exercise, it is readily taken up by the body and provides a very stable source of glucose. On other small point, be very careful of your pump adaptor as they often get very serious infections if they are abraised on contaminated surfaces and unfortunately even the cleanest of mats represent a very contaminated surface, (I'm a medical bacteriologist so I tend to be a bit on the paranoid side about such things), a little rubbing alcohol applied topically after each practise should keep you out of risk.

From: "Craig G. Hocker"

Someone else wrote that fructose was preferred because it doesn't have the blood sugar spike of glucose or cause insulin response of sucrose. So is OJ really a source of glucose ?
Not having seen any sugar analysis of orange juice, I assumed that it was predominantly fructose (the name after all comes from where it was found = "fruit sugar"). Not critical for me to know but important for a diabetic.
Did you mean a metabolic source of glucose ?

I can't recall for sure, but I bet anybody a fiver that the Consumer Reports magazine has tested Gatorade and other especially formulated sports drinks against diluted juice and found them to be a pure waste of money.

From: Laura Hague

As main person in charge of boo-boos at my dojo, I'd like to know what you do to increase your comfort during practice. Do you pad your hip? Do you use extra tape to secure the syringe? What first aid supplies would you be happy to know were available if you came for a visit? Has the syringe ever come out or torn your skin badly during practice? What should other people do to help (or if they should help) if a problem with the syringe or pump emerges?

Since pumps and syringes are being used for an increasing number of conditions, I feel sure that any information you provide on this will come in handy.

From: Jim Summers

On Jun 15, 16:03, Alan John Beggs wrote: Dilute orange
> juice has proven over and over again to be one of the best glucose

You mean fructose.

Interesting thought that I had not considered. I pull the entire syringe out of the pump and tape it to my gi pants (it is underneath the jacket, so it isn't touched by the mat). MiniMed Technologies is about to introduce an even better alternative -- a septum lock about 3" from the insertion point that will allow EASY removal of the pump. I tested it for them last month and it makes things about 100 times better.

> -- End of excerpt from Alan John Beggs

Not having seen any sugar analysis of orange juice, I assumed that it was predominantly fructose (the name after all comes from where it was found = "fruit sugar"). Not critical for me to know but important for a diabetic.

The above is correct. That was the reason for the initial posting. Glocose give a nice "push" at the beginning of class (as noted in one post, it will also cause fast insulin production, a Bad Thing, but then I'm a diabetes, I'm not exactly worried about my body producing insulin ;), then the fructose will kick in for the second half of class. This is great for 1 hour classes, for 2 hour classes I can push through but my attention span falls off a little toward the end...

Our Sensei keeps a small refrigerator stocked with gatoraid and fruit-type juices (which he sells for a tiny profit), so I always have a glucose/fructose supply at hand. He is also sensitive enough that he has caught me twice being very unattentive and asked me to take a sugar break (actually there was a third, but I was embarrased to admit that I just wasn't paying attention):.

From: "Edward L. Kersey"

jim have you tried eating JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES? they are also known as sunchokes. i don't have diabetes so i can not speak from experience, but, supposedly they may cut the need for insulin by a large percentage. if you wish you may email me at good luck and good training.

From: Jim Summers

From: Laura Hague

>Anyone else on a pump and trying to to slice open their hip on a syringe >housing w

After experimenting for a (painful) while, I have found that taping the syringe to the *outside* of the gi pants (under the jacket) to the inside of the hip under the abdomen works well for me. I did tape it under the pants, but the syringedug in give a shallow cut taking ukemi for rokyo, and sometimes even for ikkyo/nikyo/sankyo. Koshinage can also be a slight risk both for me as uke and for nagi as I lay flat along the back -- though as I am not sliding it has never posed a problem at all. (As I said in a very recent post) MiniMed has just released a product that will free me from taping the syringe to the body.

I've never had anything more serious than skin abrasions, and very few of those. If any other problem occurred, it would be about as much of a problem as a foot cut (i.e. you need to get off the mat and fix it right then before you stain the entire mat, but it isn't really even an "injury"). If the syringe were broken, then I would just bow out and go home and fix it. The only supplies that I really look for are tape and alcohol swabs, and I carry those with me anyway.

Actually, I think I would worry less about supplies in a dojo than that someone would know what to do if I did go into insulin shock. I think the problem that you as injury director ("You, over there, isn't it about time for you to get an injury!" :) should be very aware of is problems related to insulin shock. Sometimes you can feel the shock coming on but class is *almost over*, so you don't act on it. Ukemi is such situations can be very dangerous. I speak here as a 3rd Kyu who doesn't take a lot of precise highfall (yet), I would think that as you rise in rank and are expected to take more precise ukemi the danger due to loss of attentiveness would obviously rise. Most endocrenologists (or GPs, for that matter) have little pamplets on "How to spot insulin shock"; it might not be bad for you and the other instructors to review one such to increase sensitivity to such situations.

F Head injuries STROKES/Concussion

From: Laura Hague

>Our scariest injury so far was when a very in-shape Aikidoka has a very >mild stroke on the mat. We assumed it was a bad fall, as did the >emergency staff at the hospital. In retrospect we are trying to examine >the incident and see how we can improve our response to such an >occurence.

How does one tell if a person has had a stroke? Are there specific signs that would indicate a stroke rather than, say, a concussion?

From: Angus Taylor

The topic of head injuries in Aikido is an important one as how many of us have whacked themselves good after a high throw.

Stroke and concussion are both head injuries with one obviously being far more serious than the other. A stroke is permenant and involves the rupturing of a blood vessel in the cranium. This causes fluid accumulation and increased pressure in a particular area of the brain. The pressure can be enough to damage the brain cells there and cause permennant damage. The symptoms can range very greatly from some lose of sensory or motor function to death. From a first aid point of view one thing that will be constant in most cases be the sufferer conscious or not is neck stiffness. This happens because of the change in cerebral and spinal pressure.

A concussion can give signs that mimic a stroke but the effects do go away. A sufferer will often have a head ache but if the trama is enough and cerebral eodema forms they may get dizzy or nauseous. This is a much more serious symptom and should have medical attention immediately if noticed.

One of the keys to this is that a concussion must have some direct trama and a stroke can happen any time. If you are unlucky enough to have a stroke during an Aikido class we can see the problems that can arise. The most important thing that can be stressed is a consultation with a physician after the incident. Don't take spinal and head injuries lightly. Lets face it, too much is riding on it and it is better to be safe than sorry.

With only a few exceptions a stroke victom is not going to be able to walk themselves to the hospital. A concussion victom often can. Please don't use this as your only criteria because more often than not a CAT scan must be done for confermation in any case and thats not a job to be done in the Dojo.

This may or may not have helped your origional question but it should instil a bit of healthy fear of what a head injury means.

From: Marc St_Onge

>>How does one tell if a person has had a stroke? Are there specific signs that would indicate a stroke rather than, say, a concussion?<<

While the subject of stroke vs concussion was explained and dealt with much better in a previous post, I would just like to add a personal note. When I was 14 (some 26 years ago, dear God in Heaven...) I had a stroke (or Cerebral Vascular Accident) while helping friends chop out a tree stump. I got an instantaneous severe headache but managed to ride home on my bicycle. Stiff neck, vomiting, lethargy for some amount of time (don't really remember) until my parents took me to the hospital. At first they thought I might have had meningitis but after a spinal tap (possibly the most painful thing I've ever had) they found blood in the spinal fluid.

Anyways, I spent a month in the hospital and made a full recovery. Never had a problem since. It was explained to me, at the time, that it was a weakness in a small vessel wall that let go. Hopefully, there are no more of these little time bombs waiting for me. I have a lot more ukemi I want to do before I go :-).

From: Krystal Locke

>Stroke and concussion are both head injuries with one obviously >being far more serious than the other. A stroke is permenant and >involves the rupturing of a blood vessel in the cranium.

Off topic, I know, but a stroke is not a rupturing of a blood vessel in the cranium. A stroke is a blood clot blocking a vessel in the brain, and the damage is not always permanent, if the clot dislodges or dissolves quickly enough. A ruptured vessel that supplies blood to the brain,not just the cranial area, is an aneurism, and the damage from an aneurism is permanent, because of severe loss of blood to brain tissue that cannot be surgically repaired fast enough.
Concussion is the bruising and destruction of brain tissue from impacting the skull with sufficient force, and from the tearing movement caused by the violent sudden movement of the brain.
Concussions are just as serious as any other brain trauma, and the effects can be permanent, just ask Troy Aikman. Personally, I have seen more potential for spinal trauma, specifically, serious neck injuries, in "high" falls, such as koshi-nage falls, sutemi, ganseki-otoshi, etc...
I guess the point is that ukemi should be taught and experienced slowly and carefully, with attention being constantly payed to the level of one's uke, not only their rank, but the way they are feeling in that class. I'm ikkyu, but sometimes I sure have gokyu ukemi days, you know? ;-)

From: Doug Barnard

In answer to your question about how to tell the difference between a stroke (CVA) and a concussion. Both can be caused by trauma.

A concussion is defined as a brief loss of conciousness, with following confusion and loss of memory. Patients may become verbally abusive and physically restless.

A Cerebro-Vascular Accident, or stroke, is when the flow of blood to the brain has been interrupted enough to cause damage. The general signs and symptoms of stroke include: Change in level of mental activity, decreased conciousness, change in personality, trouble in understanding speech, paralysis or weakness (typically on one side of the body), rapid and strong pulse, and pupils that are unequal in size.

I would have a tendency to suspect that there might also be possible neck injuries associated with the trauma to the head. It's always wise to suspect the worst and hope for the best.

In the case of severe trauma, make sure that the victim LIES VERY STILL. Check for the above symptoms, make sure that they are warm and comfortable, and call for an ambulance. If you suspect neck or back injury, immobilize the head and neck with whatever is convienient. A couple of bokken and belts would do in a pinch!

The above definitions were paraphrased from "Prehospital Emergency Care and Crisis Intervention," my textbook for my Emerengency Medical Technician class.

G Joint hyper mobility

From: Laura Hague

This is a question regarding joint hypermobility, but other experiences may be pertinent.

We are currently rethinking my 16 yr. old daughter's approach to Aikido. It has become quite clear that she has to adapt Aikido to her body, because her body isn't going to adapt to Aikido! The problem is that nearly every joint in her body is at risk for subluxation. Subluxation is the movement of a joint out of place. With someone who is hypermobile, it doesn't necessarily hurt, but it is often at least temporarily disabling and can pinch nerves and provoke swelling in surrounding tissue. This can happen by her simply getting up, sitting in the wrong position, or leaning on her own arms. Despite these problems, she wants to continue training in Aikido.

So, if you've had to adapt either nage waza or ukemi to your own body's special needs, we'd like to know about it. What did you do? How do you blend with your fellow students?

If you are hypermobile, what do you do to keep your limbs connected to your torso? How do you keep your shoulders from subluxing during, say, shionage? Would you respond differently to that technique? How?

If you've ever practiced on crutches, what was your experience?

From: Roger Plomish <>

Take her out of Aikido as quickly as you can--Tai Chi would be a very good alternative. The other answer would be to take her to a teacher who teaches proper uke--for every technique, point by point.

The force now applied to her body is working directly against her tendons and muscles--and they will tear quite easily, hence the swelling. If she is to do a martial art, overextension--either as nage (shite) or uke is going to continue to do at least micro-trauma to her vulnerable areas. In time that micro-trauma will turn to major damage:the straw that broke the camel's back. Aikido is nice, but it is not the only martial art. There are other martial arts that are better thought out, and Tai Chi stands at the very top of this intelligence. Stiff bodies, reasonably flexible bodies, rubber band bodies or any other type of body suffers from Aikido practice. The forces working against the joints are incredible. There really is no sense to cause her further injury--she has her whole life ahead of her, and we all know how difficult life, in general, is without added discomfort.

From: Cady Goldfield

Laura, Roger Plomish's advice is good. Tai Chi will give your daughter the benefits of Aikido without the risk.

She may also benefit from *careful* (i.e. coached) weight training to build up the muscles around her ball&socket joints, which will help keep them secured in place. By weight training, I don't mean bench pressing 200lbs., but doing a variety of resistance exercises with a slowly increased amount of weight (2 lbs gradually increased to 10 lbs). Nautilus-type equipment would be even better.

From: Gillis

I would also suggest swimming. When I had knee surgery (which removed almost all the cartilage from my right knee), swimming was one exercise suggested as a non-impact way of increasing strength around my kneecap.


I can't agree with Cady's advice (i.e. weight training) more; if this seems a little uncertain or risky to you, and you consider the training worth the time/investment, it might be worthwhile to consider an approach of this sort under the guidance of a physical therapist and/or orthopedist; subluxations, dislocations, and other sorts of joint trauma are right up their alley, esp. with stabilization and strengthening excercises.

From: Chung Jayson C

To the person who posted about her daughter who is prone to subluxation. The advice you received from others about her switching to an art like t'ai chi seems good (although t'ai chi, being in my opinion even more of an internal art than Aikido, may be more difficult for a young person to grab onto, mentally). I would hate for you to be left with no prospects for your daughter in Aikido, however.

If she stays in Aikido, concentrating on ukemi and feeling comfortable communicating to her partners about how they apply technique would be key. The point of ukemi is to save your body. That means becoming very sensitive to what is happening to your body and moving your body in such a way as to relieve the stresses that can do damage. As far as joints are concerned, you want to move your body to take some of the pressure off the joint before it reaches a critical level -- in your daughter's case, when it becomes vulnerable to subluxation. For example, to make receiving kote-gaeshi (wrist turnout) or shio-nage safer, you would turn your body toward your partner, thus keeping your captured arm in front of your body instead of stretched out to the side, and move your body in the direction of the throw. You want to "read" your partner's motions and stay a little ahead of them, so that you take the throw on your own terms.

This is not anything special. It's just regular ukemi. Good ukemi usually takes a long time to learn, often because people focus more on understanding throws and pins than ukemi. It would be in your daughter's interest to put a special emphasis on studying ukemi and develop skill at it as quickly as possible. By the way, developing skill in ukemi is a fantastic, though often neglected, way to develop good Aikido fundamentals. It's not a separate subject, by any means.

Of course, even with experience your daughter will not be able to safeguard her joints all the time just through her own efforts in ukemi. With partners who tend to be rough or insensitive, your daughter will need to remind them to be sensitive to her condition and to help her with her particular practice.

So, if the practice partners are good people and the sensei takes an interest in your daughter's ukemi, I think there is an answer within Aikido. I don't know if it's the best answer, of course. But I also don't think you need to automatically write off Aikido or fear that your daughter will only be able to engage in a compromised version of Aikido.

H Pregnancy

From: Nizam Taleb

Paul Smith asked:
> Has anyone on the list trained while pregnant? Or trained with someone in > their dojo who was pregnant? I'll pass on any advice to my student, and > would also be interested in any suggestions for me as an instructor. >
In case there are other interested i am posting this to the NET. While i was in Sweden, i know a woman who trained until one month before the child was born. Of course ukemi practice was limited severely in the last month :-)
While here in the states we have a member at our dojo who also trained until her last month, although it seemed to me it was more like a week left to delivery.
Both deliveries went well, too.

From: David Leong

My wife trained until she was eight and a half months pregnant. She stopped taking breakfalls as soon as she found out, and she stopped taking rolling ukemi around the sixth month. She listened to her body, slowed down and did what she could. Everyone was very considerate in working with her to keep her on the mat.

From: Michael Martin

I have known several women who have trained well into their pregnancies. It really depends on the individual from what I have observed. However, in all cases, the women have gradually toned down the ukemi they were willing to take. Otherwise, it seems that it was up to them to gauge what was wise.

From: Terry Roberts

For the person who's interested in considerations for training while pregnant, I believe there's a section on that in our FAQ, based on one of the earlier discussions of this topic.

One thing that hasn't been brought up yet in this instance of the discussion is that you have to be careful with joints. Pregnant women's joints loosen up in preparation for childbirth, so they become much more prone to injury if stressed. So back off on those nikyos.

From: "Daniel J. Kowall"

I would only practice with a pregnant women if she had been a student for a year or two. By then she should have an idea on how to protect herself as an uke and what her limits are. Also by then I would have some idea of what type of person she is. Some people are looking to get rich quick via law suits. And I would be very careful.

From: Fred Little

Big dittos, although probably for different reasons. Any kind of stretching, particularly in the later stages, should probably be approached carefully. The same changes that relax the tendon, ligament, and musculature of the hips and groin sufficiently to make delivery possible also affect the rest of the body. The result can be that your joints don't tell you when it would be a good time to tap out during (nikkyo, sankyo, some shiho-nage, you fill in the technique).

Fighting Woman News had a good issue several years ago on the topic of pregnancy and training. Somebody must have a copy....

To tell you the truth though, it seems to me that the women I know who've gone through this found training during pregnancy easier than finding time to train after pregnancy. Shared childcare seems to be a great....ideal.

At least until the kid is on solid food. And while we're on the subject, you might want to check the local library for my mother-in-law's book. *Please Breastfeed Your Baby* by Alice Gerard.

O Sensei used to go on about the identification of ai ("harmony" Nelson 383) and ai ("love, affection" Nelson 2829). Hanging in my dojo is a piece of calligraphy by Linda Holiday reading "aiki" using Nelson 2829. The character for "ai" looks like a woman holding a child to her breast. There's more than one way to practice aiki.

From: Kevin Jones

I don't have any personal experience in this area :-) but one of my students gave birth a few months ago after continuing to practice (at various levels) throughout the entire course of her pregnancy. In addition, one of the instructors in my dojo is a nurse and childbirth educator and was very involved and monitored the practices during this period.

From: Jeff Frane

I would definitely avoid breakfalls -- but then, I avoid them and I'm *never* going to be pregnant. I think it's a dojo-to-dojo thing, but some of us old guys *really* hate 'em. Furthermore, if you look to your ukemi and keep it responsive, there really isn't any reason to do hard falls.

article from ATM on the subject, and I'm finally getting around to it.

This article is from issue 13 (Vol. 4, No. 1 Spring 1990), page 16. The article is from the column 'Ask Mark', written by Dr. Mark Adachi.

Any typos are mine.


Question: I am an Aikido student who has recently become pregnant. What special precautions should I be taking?

-Dorothy Skaggs, Youngstown, Ohio

The value of exercise in prenatal care has been a controversial topic for many years. In the past, it was standard medical practice to forbid any sports or vigorous exercise for the entire term of pregnancy. Recently, though, prenatal exercise has been recognized as an aid in controlling weight, reducing musculoskeletal pain, easing delivery, and speeding postnatal recovery. The prenatal exercise programs most often recommended include stretching, back and abdominal muscle strengthening, and mild aerobic conditioning.

While Aikido no doubt meets many of these requirements, there are some serious problems with Aikido practice during pregnancy. The first and foremost of these problems has to do with ukemi. Ukemi should be recognized for what it is: a highly controlled method of preventing injury from falls. No matter how well ukemi is performed, uke's body still falls to the mat, the net force of the fall being directly related to the uke's body mass and acceleration. The traumatic force involved when uke's body hits the mat is considerable, and it must be dealt with in some safe way. This is usually not a problem, but, when uke is pregnant, even a fraction of this traumatic force may shock the fetus, possibly resulting in miscarriage -- especially in first pregnancies and in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the likelihood of miscarriage is increased. In the first trimester all falling, even forward and backward rolling, should be avoided.

In addition, much of the Aikido repertoire consists of pinning techniques, which result in uke landing in a prone (face-down) position. The direct shock of the abdomen hitting the mat in these techniques is not safe early in the pregnancy, and lying in this position is nearly impossible later in term due to the abdomen's increased size. Pregnant women should also beware of kansetsu waza (joint locking techniques) such as ikkyo, nikyo, and sankyo. Among the many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy is an increase in relaxin -- a polypeptide hormone that allows the opening of the pelvis during delivery. As its name suggests, this hormone relaxes the ligaments of the entire body. The relaxation may cause some minor joint instability, increasing the likelihood of sprains and strains. Pregnant women should therefore be especially careful with techniques that may put large amounts of torque on their joints. If being uke is not a good idea during pregnancy, what about being nage? In general, practicing in the role of nage can be continued well into term if two considerations are kept in mind: First, care must be taken to maintain an adequate oxygen supply for the fetus. If exercise becomes too strenuous, the mother's cardiovascular system, which must support both her and the fetus, will shunt blood away from the fetus. Also, exercise may put the fetus into oxygen debt if the mother's blood is not able to carry enough oxygen. It is therefore advisable for the expectant mother to limit her maximal heart rate to 140 beats per minute or less -- quite a bit lower than the usual limit, which is 220 minus one's age. It is also advisable for the expectant mother to limit periods of aerobic exercise to fifteen minutes. Second, it is wise for pregnant Aikidoists to avoid certain common Aikido movements. As a fetus grows, a pregnant woman's center of gravity shifts, causing the swayback posture characteristic of the expectant mother. The condition of having the increased curve, called hyperlordosis, makes a woman's posture biomechanically weaker and predisposes her to chronic lower back pain. Unfortunately, the posture Aikidoists adopt when using the hara or koshi in many strong kokyu movements is also slightly hyperlordotic and stressful for the lower back muscles. So, pregnant women should avoid these movements -- or, at least, be very careful when attempting them. A general rule of thumb regarding pregnancy and sports (Aikido included) is that usually, if a woman has been actively involved in an athletic activity before becoming pregnant, she can continue until the third trimester. So, if a woman has been actively involved in Aikido practice prior to pregnancy, and if she observes the precautions I have mentioned, she should be able to continue Aikido practice for quite a while into her term. But, if a woman has stopped training before becoming pregnant, she should not start up again during pregnancy. And even highly athletic women almost always restrict their activities drastically during the third trimester. There are women, of course, who continue right up to delevery -- but this is rare, and the wisdom of these womens' decisions is questionable. Women vary tremendously in the problems associated with their pregnancies. So, pregnant women should consult with their obstetricians regarding their individual cases. For more information on this topic, ask your doctor for the ACOG (American Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines for exercise and pregnancy. Much of the information in this article was drawn from these guidelines.

From: Jae DiBello

Based on things I've read and women I know (I myself have not had kids, but I thought somebody should respond to this thread who at least has the right equipment! ;-) I think caution is necessary (of course) but the article from ATM seems a little over cau tious. If you practice slowly, nage waza should be a problem. And falling backwards (rather than rolling all the way) can be a very gentle thing. So don't be discouraged into thinking you'll only be able to do nagewaza. My advice is to find a progressive, female doctor, and maybe a sports doctor, and talk to them.

From: Krystal Locke

A few things I've heard about training pregnant. While the changes in balance leading up to the birth are gradual, and relatively easy to adjust to, the sudden change in balance after the birth is a difficult transition. Just an issue to be aware of...
Also, training while pregnant, and becoming accustomed to the differences in balance, and the emotional aspects of the pregnancy, amy come in handy in the self defense arena. Many women are attacked because of their pregnancy, their perceived vulnerability, and the general passive/protective mode during that time. If a woman is attacked during her term, and decides she needs to fight back, if she is not practiced at functioning martially with her new balance/ma-ai/etc. she may find herself at a bit of a disadvantage.

From: Douglas Peelle

We have had two pregnant women in our dojo in the last couple years. Both of them tried practicing during the early months, but found it uncomfortable because of morning sickness, etc. In the middle months they tried practicing without falling, but I think they found it very unsatisfying. In the last couple months they found it uncomfortable because of their size.

In both cases their own doctors, as well as our resident MD, reccommended against falling, especially break falls.

I old age and ukemi

From: cyeomans@MS.UKY.EDU

I think that teaching ukemi will be hard. I can throw people all day without much effort, but taking ukemi is considerably more tiring. Perhaps if you take the first 6 weeks to gradually raise their level of fitness, you might be able to teach forward and backward falling.

From: Laura Hague

I definitely think that oldsters and anyone else with joint problems can learn ukemi. In fact, learning to fall properly is very important for people who are at high risk of falling. From working with my daughter, and with some good advice from one of my sensei and Kevin Jones (thanks, Kevin), I have come to the conclusion that safe falling simply means controlling your inevitable downward motion. Getting your butt to fly over your head is unimportant.

So, teaching ukemi to a class of senior citizens is something that is feasible, but feasible, I think, only if you have had practice working with someone who is physically challenged. There are so many little things to consider, little things that just won't occur to you until you are faced with the problem of adapting to joint dysfunction. Just getting up and down of the mat becomes an exercise in ukemi.

I think you'd be better off working on ki development and moving from one's center than teaching ukemi if you haven't had prior experience with this particular sort of challenge.


Subject: Re: Ukemi For Elders Yoga exercises might be added to increase limb movement.

Try to get a very soft surface for ukemi .

From: Eric Kammerer

Better watch for Osteoporosis (sp?) at that age. Also, many may not have the neck strength to protect their heads in a fall. My mom can't do crunches without holding her head up with her hand.

From: Mike "the excersize starts tonight!" Bartman --

>Yoga exercises might be added to increase limb movement.

Yes, this will work fine for older folks. My wife's mother started yoga in her early sixties. My wife said it was very odd to come home and find her mother standing on her head in the corner, white hair and all... :^)

She stopped after a few years, and now says she regrets that. She's still in great shape though. I hope I'm half that well off at 83! Wish I was now at 39...

From: Cady Goldfield

Some listers made valuable suggestions concerning how -- and how much -- to teach ukemi. I like the idea of having people sit on the mat (we'll have mats) and gently roll backward, etc My primary goal is to get them to keep their chins tucked to their chests, and to be able to disperse the force and weight when they fall. It could save some folks from broken bones. We get a lot of icey slips up here in MA in the winter.

From: Terry Roberts

I personally would be *really* leery of teaching a bunch of older folks ukemi without having special knowledge about gerontology. Even younger folks end up with so many aches and pains after their first few ukemi classes, how will a bunch of older folks feel?

I've heard that the common sequence of "fall and break your hip" may well have cause and effect reversed: that in many cases the hip breaks and the person falls. Would you be willing to teach ukemi to someone with osteoporosis who might well break something? I sure wouldn't.

You're undoubtedly right that learning to fall properly would be of great benefit to these folks. I'm just suggesting caution in teaching it to them if you don't know a lot about their specific physical issues.