1. Knee injury (unable to bend)
  2. Knee injury - ligament injury
  3. Knee surgery
  4. Does swari waza damage knees?
  5. Bruised knees

Knee injury (unable to bend)

From: Wolfgang Velasco

I hurt my knee about seven months ago. I haven't been able to bend it fully. I want to get back into Aikido but am worried that my knee will hinder me. Anyone relate any similar experiences or have any suggestions?

From: Rick Clark

Stupid question I know but......Have you seen an MD.? If not go and see an MD that is a specialist in Sports Med.

I had my ACL torn just over a year ago and had it replaced, I am almost back in the swing of things. There are still things I don't do but I am getting there.

From: doug johnson


I strongly urge you to get your knee looked at by a doctor. Your symptoms can be a lot of different things but it can be serious and get worse without attention. The good news is that most problems can be fully corrected. The meniscus in both my knees is torn (that is the half-moon-shaped cartiledge between the knee cap and knee joint). This is a common injury and has a very high rate of correction with arthroscopic surgery, which I am going to have next month. You may not have this serious of an injury but you should get it looked at, it problably can be fixed. Good Luck.

From: doug johnson

I have experienced just that injury. The menicus in both knees is torn and I am going to have surgery on them in June. I have dealt with the injuries for about two and a half years. I would train normally during the times my knees were ok, then they would "go out" and I would be severely limited in my training util they were healed, then I would train again. This continued for about two years, finally I had an MRI and sure enough the menisci were torn and I scheduled surgery.

The injury, I believe, was caused by Muay Thai type knee strikes to a punching bag (without knowing the proper technique) and not by Aikido. I have trained rigorously in Aikido for about 12 years with no problem......of course I am older now then I was then.

I've received many Aikidoists' advise and insights, and I believe the prognosis is good, I intend to be back 100%.....god willing. In the past I have done a lot of suwariwaza, and a lot of time in seiza.

From: Conny Young

Doug, thanks for your reply. I think your injury may have been more serious than those which I have sustained. I believe what I sustained was probably because of the angle of the foot as I came over in a forward roll. If it is turned outward upon striking the floor, it will stress the medial meniscus and also the medial collateral ligament.

I got chiropractic adjustments to the bones in the foot, the knee, and in the hip and low back. Most of the problem appeared to be in the foot area. I then tried shark cartilage formulated with rishi mushroom. I only took 98 of the capsules over the course of a couple of weeks and saw immediate results. The knee healed up nicely and I have heard case reports using shark cartilage where similar dramatic results, one of which included a grand master summo wrestler. Might be worth a try with or without that surgery you have scheduled.

From: Olof Svensson

I have had knee problems in 10 years before I started Aikido (from playing Soccer, The real football, you know.) 8-) 8-)

My medial minisc dex was removed just before starting with Aikido in 1985. Practicing Jujutsu at the time, and was doing swari-newasa when my menisc could not take it no more.
I have had minor problems with my knee since then. The problems I had, have been more to accidents when "playing around " after class, than relating to some Aikido movment/tecniuqe. (Except SWARIWASA) I always weare a medical orthose (a. crusiate ligament ruppture is the main problem on my right knee. I LOVE Soccer!!!).

If I stay away from swariwasa on a normal day, and dont do much swari at the first half of a class, on a very GOOD day, Then I have no problems.

I always try to end a forward ukemi with one foot and one knee + tooes in contact with the tatami before trying to stand up.

PLEASE, if you have the time, would you point out IYO (!) the critical movments to mediale meniscus in a froward ukemi?

I agree with you that forward ukemi could be damaging to your knee and this should be stressed to beginners from instructors and sempais (the salt of the earth, sempais).

IMHO The Aikido comunity need surveys like this, so good luck to you and hope you have a big respons from Aikido People all over the world.

From: Dennis Cline

I'm no doctor, but I've heard a few horror stories about orthoscopic surgury leaving the joint worse than before.

I hyperextended my left knee several years ago trying to otoshi an uke who was about twice my weight (I didn't keep my feet together). Then, to diminish my embarassment for crumpling to the ground with my uke falling on top of me, I got up, brushed my self up and did...

..the same thing all over again!

I really messed it up pretty good, but with consistent, daily stretching (as far is it would go) for about a year it came back almost completely, and without surgury.

Something to consider before letting some "professional" poke around in one of your most vital joints.

Best wishes for your speedy recovery!

From: "Paul A. Minerva"

I agree with the sentiments below. I also had knee surgery and question whether
it helped or hurt. If you orthopod allows it, try some rigorous physical therapy
instead-- it may work.

From: doug johnson

I am having surgery on both meniscus (menisci) this month. I have a type II tear on both of them. My doctor thinks I should be back 100% in a few months with physical therapy.

From: Kevin Jones

I had a full patela tendon based ACL reconstruction and a repair on a tear in the medial meniscus. I was out of the dojo for 3 days after the surgery, was on crutches for about a month and was back to about 50% of my normal practice within 6 months - I was fine on most waza but was limited in ukemi and things like suwari waza.

Then I had to have a second "clean up" surgery to remove a cyclops lesion that had formed around the joint. I was back teaching immediately after that, although it was about a month before I was taking limited ukemi again.

For most of the last 6 months, I've been at between 70 and 80% of normal, gradually increasing the intensity of my practice again. About 3 weeks back I needed an injection of a strong anti-inflamatory agent into the knee. Following that I actually practiced at 100% for a week (and it felt good :-)).

I notice the inflamation is reoccuring though, so I still have fears of the need for a further clean up :-(.

So, I wasn't "out" for very long but I'm still not really at 100% of what I expect from myself.

Knee injury - ligament injury

From: "Swan E. Johnson"

Hi everyone, im new on this list and I have never submitted anything before. Anyway I was wondering if anybody could offer me som advice...

A few days ago I sustained some type of ligament injury to my right knee. It's not painful all the time, but I get "reminded" from time to time by a sharp jolt that nearly causes me to fall.

Has anybody ever gotten a similar injury?, if so what did you do to ease the pain and promote the fastest healing?. Sure is a shame I have to introduce myself this way :).......

From: the Frizz-meister

Now, if the pain totally disappears inbetween the jolts, then it could be a condition I have. It is not uncommon to chip off little bits of bone or cartalidge in a complex joint like a knee. This little piece can wander around the joint for a long time, in the suburbs, causing no problems at all. Every once in a while, it might pass into a delicate area (between two normally friction-free parts) and that causes a jolt or may even debilitate the leg.

It's not a serious condition usually, and it may go away on its own. What you have to do is keep track of how often your knee feels like going out, and if the frequency is increasing you might want to get it checked out; and in this case it is possible to get surgery to remove the piece. Otherwise, if the freq. decreases, no worries.

I'm no doctor, nor expert, but I did have something like what you've described; and it went away eventually.

From: JG

Just got out of "minor" knee surgery AGAIN (last Friday) for a "minor" injury I treated too lightly.

If you have already gotten your injury looked at, I would suggest swimming as a good exercise for strengthening the knee (little direct stress).

If you haven't gotten it looked at...PLEASE DO! I'm hobbling around, and am restricted as to what I can do. Aside from crutch/staff techniques [grin], my Aikido practice is at a standstill (at least anything using my right leg is out).

From: Tom Reynolds

Swan, you may have injured the nerve endings in the knee and can flare up during any type of sensory stimulation in that area -- I have done that myself. Can you distinguish whether it is a skeletal problem or a nerve problem??


From: Nick

On Wed, 24 Apr 1996, Craig Redelsperger wrote:

> My significant other also practices Aikido, and has done so for a number of > years. Unfortunately, she is now experiencing a lot of pain in her knees and > was recommended by her physicial to get authroscopy to have some of the > cartilege removed from her knee cap and possibly part or all of her maniscus > removed as well.
> She asked me to post this to you all to find out if anyone else has had this > particular surgery and what type of results you have had. Craig,

I have had both knees done... (yeah... injured during Aikido training...) and I am great now... IF there is cartilage damage (especially meniscal) have the surgery done by a ACSM certified ortho SPORTS MED surgeon :) Don't delay... cartilage damage is alot like a hole in a pair of jeans.. it doesn't get better, only worse....

From: Christopher Watson

I've had surgery three times on my left knee, the result of a chronic childhood condition. Only the last surgery, about six years ago, dealt with the removal of deteriorated cartilage.

I fear that knees, much like cars, are never the same once you start messing with them. Cartilage does not repair itself (no blood supply), although there are some new cartilage transplant techniques in the early states of experimentation. Arthritis is common following cartilage deterioration and/or surgery. Difficulty may be had on the mat "planting" and torquing the joint, and the knee may feel "mushy." The best advice I can give is invest in a few decent knee braces with various degrees of support, and learn to live with it. It will not bar one's Aikido study, but it will most definitely permanently affect it.

From: Michael Biller

After 3 years Ju-Jutsu I had problems with bending my knees and with sitting in seiza, so I asked my doc and he told me, that my knee-caps are deformed from birth and said I stop doing Ju-Jutsu.

I then began with swimming, biking, body-building, and so on, just to do some sports, but I never was really with doing these sports.

A few years later I met black-belt Aikidoka and asked him, if Aikido is harmfull for my knee-damage. He said, if trained correctly Aikido doesn't do any harm to my knees.

Hearing this I asked him, if it would be possible to take test training at his dojo, he answered that this is possible, of course.

I went to first training and fell instantly in love with the movements. I'm doing Aikido for a year by now, and my knees are as good/bad as they were before.

From: David Oikawa

Craig Redelsperger said:

> She asked me to post this to you all to find out if anyone else has had this > particular surgery and what type of results you have had.

I have had an arthroscopy on one knee as a result of an Aikido injury. I had a "flap" tear in the cartilage - part of the cartilage was still attached. They removed the partially torn piece and ground down the remainder to ensure that it had the proper contour.

Unlike some of my fellow Aikidoka, my recovery took longer than expected. Some people have been back on the mats after 2-3 weeks. I took 6 weeks, and still had swelling and some pain. I wore a brace for about a year and a half. I just took it off last month. For the most part, standing techniques do not bother my knee, but seiza and suwariwaza occasionally cause some pain, although it is improving over time.

Tell your wife that, overall, I am glad that I had the surgery. Compared to my pre-operation condition, I feel much better. Just remember not to try to do too much too soon after the operation.

From: Dan Levin

Well, seeing as how I am recovering from knee surgury resulting from an injury I received while attempting hanmi handachi katatetori shihonage, I suppose that I have to get my two bits in.

As I see it, there are at least three types of problems that can cause pain in your knees as a result of these techniques (hanmi handachi and suwari-waza):

  1. Pain related to not being accustomed to, or not being limber enough for, the techniques. This type of pain will go away eventually, as you limber up, get used to bending your knees like that, develop muscles, etc. Most everyone has some of this - usually at a minimum some discomfort on the face of the knee cap from putting so much weight and/or pressure on the skin.
  2. Pain related to chronic problems. I am not very familiar with these injuries, but obvious causes are cartiledge degeneration (or removal), etc.
  3. Pain related to acute injuries, especially meniscal (cartiledge) tears. This is what I did - and there is a real risk of this type of injury in these techniques. Any time that you bend your knee (by, for example, bending down to pet your dog, or sitting seiza, or moving suwari-waza) and then twist your leg (by say, turning to kiss your spouse while bending down to pet the dog, or improperly rotating for shihonage in hanmi handachi), you risk tearing your meniscus.

Now, the solution depends (no kidding Sherlock) on the cause - #1, 2, or 3.

In the case of #1, my take is to do as much as you can - it will get better over time. Lots of stretching can help, especially (believe it or not) lower torso stretches.

In the case of #2, as the doctor said, "don't do that." Do the techniques standing, or sit cross-legged. Don't risk aggrevating a chronic problem must to be 'hip'.

In the case of #3, first and foremost, prevent, prevent, prevent. Be careful not to move quickly, or jerkily, when your knees are bent. Be careful to keep your center, and your balance. If you do tear something, you may well hear it, and go to the doctor, or you may end up in camp #2, which is probably ok.

At any rate, especially for those of us over 30, careful and smooth movements are the key whenever your knees are bent. Aikido is only one source of such problems.

Now, as to the question of importance. For many of us, IMHO of course, our legs are a liability of sorts. They let us get away with things - jerky movements, arms not well attached to the one point, etc. Suwari-waza and hanmi handachi serve the same purpose as working with a jo and a boken - they highlight certain parts of our body, and help us to focus on certain movements without allowing them to be compensated for by other movements. For that reason, they are invaluable learning tools. It is widely said in Aikido circles that the true test of an Aikidoka is how they move on their knees. If you can do techniques smoothly, with power and without slack, when on your knees, standing is going to be a piece of cake. So my answer is yes, these techniques are an integral part of Aikido, and very important.


From: "Vincent C.S. Wiers"

>>I have the feeling that I'm ruining my knees when doing suwari waza. >>I didn't have great knees to start with; I practiced Judo for 6 >>years. After training suwari waza my knees hurt for a few days. >>
>>To be honest, sometimes I ask myself if the suwari stuff really is a >>necessary part of Aikido. Usually 5 minutes after a training. >>
>>Any similar experiences?

> I had a somewhat similar experience. I was doing shiko and everything >felt fine, no strange noises, no pain and I was moving OK. The next day >I could barely walk. My right knee was swollen and it hurt quite a bit. >After thinking about what might have caused it I remembered that I had >been doing shiko. At that point I decided to stop or, at least, cut way >back. My knee was fine again after a couple of months and now I do almost >no suwariwaza. Hope this is of some help and not just me rambling. :) >Mickey

From: Krystal Locke

What about kneepads? I just got some, in fear of doing *lots* of suwari waza in the near future, and I LOVE them. If you try pads, get the kind with an open area in the back of the knee, much more comfortable. They help with shikko, with suwari waza, and with ukemi. Better use a bit more padding than ignore a large part of the curriculum, in my book. Also, put liniment on *before* practice, to increase bloodflow, and "warm" the muscles around your knee. Just a few things that help me a lot...

From: Claudia Wollstein

> I have the feeling that I'm ruining my knees when doing suwari waza. > I didn't have great knees to start with; I practiced Judo for 6 > years. After training suwari waza my knees hurt for a few days.

Like most movements we are not used to, suwari waza will at times cause your knees to hurt. It might therefore be wise to start by practicing say 10 minutes, then 15 asf. This will allow your knees to develop along with your technical abilities. (Practicing for a longer time has its moments, too. Nothing else has the same way of teaching you to put your knee down softly!)

If, as you say you have, one has healthy knees, I would not expect any permanent damage from suwari waza (just some passing pain due to soft tissue irritation).

Most of the permanent knee problems I have heard about in connection with Aikido are not due to suwari waza, but to standing practice.

The most common mistake is that people tend to pivot on the complete foot rather than on the balls, which leads to extensive torsional strain on the knee. THIS - if done over some time - will definitely ruin your knees.

Whenever complaints are heard in our dojo (The first people usually start complaining after more than 5 minutes of suwari waza.) my sensei mentions that at the time when he was taught Aikido (by O Sensei) one would start practicing ONLY suwari waza, and only the higher grades would move on to standing practice.

> To be honest, sometimes I ask myself if the suwari stuff really is a > necessary part of Aikido. Usually 5 minutes after a training.

Well, "necessary" depends on what you consider necessary. Is irimi nage necessary?

I feel that suwari waza is at least useful in that it strengthens your hips and teaches you to move also under less favourable conditions.


From: Nick

On Tue, 30 Jan 1996, Alan Shumak wrote: > Nick said:
> It feels like a bruise on the joint line that is slightly tender when I use my > clutch in the car, worsens when I sit in seiza before class but better after > warming up. After class I sometimes feel a strain like sensation.

Hmmm... Is it in ONE spot?? (basically about half way around the knee from the kneecap?)
If it is there, then you mostlikely are dealing with tendonitis... that will take time, anti-inflamitories and ice to heal. If it isn't at that spot (you can actually feel the tendon if you try...) then chances are very good that you have a meniscal tear... the menisci are two horseshoe shaped pieces of cartilage in the knee that act as shock absorbers... catch is, they don't heal. If those are torn, then your best bet is (gasp) surgery. Either way I recommend seeing a sports medicine orthopaedist. (Be SURE to go to a sports med doc... some other orthopaedists are kinda chop happy and are only looking for basic functionality after treatment)

From: Alan Shumak

It feels like a bruise on the joint line that is slightly tender when I use my clutch in the car, worsens when I sit in seiza before class but better after warming up. After class I sometimes feel a strain like sensation. No pops,clicks, or noises normally and there never was an original injury that I know of. Just a steady irritation that went away and then came back. I also seem to have lost muscle tone on the leg just above and inside of the knee.When in seiza I find that my leg no longer lays properly with my foot now straight up and down for some reason. Any suggestions would help.

From: "Vincent C.S. Wiers"

I have the feeling that I'm ruining my knees when doing suwari waza. I didn't have great knees to start with; I practiced Judo for 6 years. After training suwari waza my knees hurt for a few days.

To be honest, sometimes I ask myself if the suwari stuff really is a necessary part of Aikido. Usually 5 minutes after a training.

Any similar experiences?

From: Jayesh Patel

I believe a condition called 'surfers knees' can set in if one trys to sit through the pain barrier whilst sitting in seiza. I think its advisable to stretch the knees not soon after you feel the twinge.

From: Alex Megann

Something that has continuously amazed me since I started Aikido is that despite the obvious fact that we are all more alike than we are different, the **details** of our bodies, our attitudes to them, and our individual strengths and weaknesses spread over a huge range. I'm not medically trained, and I definitely can't offer a diagnosis over the ethernet. All the same, I can offer a little advice from personal experience, which may or may not be of use.

I can see that practising suwariwaza may in some cases lead to cumulative damage to the knees. On the other hand, I feel that suwariwaza is a wonderful training method, and to gain some proficiency in it is tremendously satisfying. I don't know of any other exercise, except maybe dance, that exercises the toes, calves and hips as much, and it is surely unique in the way it can develop your posture and feeling of hara.

In my experience people most commonly have weaknesses in three places for suwariwaza: stiff toes, stiff ankles, and weak knees. I think the first two can mostly be remedied by exercise (suwariwaza, for example!) and regular stretching, but the latter can be more complex. Sudden movements and twists may damage the ligaments in the knee, but we can definitely strengthen and stretch the structure around the joint, whatever the condition of the inside of the knee. Sports physiotherapists tend to try to build up the muscular support around a joint injury as soon as poossible to give it protection and to take the strain away from surrounding muscles. If you strengthen your legs generally, you will be in much more control of what is happening to you in the dojo, and lessen the chance of an injury.

If you have knee problems in suwariwaza, don't necessarily blame your sensei first! You can gently exercise the muscles at the front of the thigh by keeping the thigh level (when sitting in a chair, for example) and repeatedly raising the lower leg slowly to horizontal (if you can't do this, see a specialist - you probably have ligamaent damage). You can do the same for the muscles at the back when you are lying on your front. I find personally that an even greater help is to keep the thigh muscles well stretched - if your quads (at the front of the thigh) are tight when you are in seiza, there can be a tremendous strain on the tendons on the kneecap, and also a high pressure inside the joint. Try to stretch the back of your knee as much as you can too, for more comfortable sitting.