Training with glasses

Date: Fri, 21 Jul 1995 11:37:40 +0000
From: Patricia Anne Matthews <pam@MAIL.NERC-NUTIS.AC.UK>

Anyone else out there train with glasses?

Any problems? I've got one of those sports straps that seems to hold the things on (most of the time). I've finally decided to pay the small fortune for the High refractive index plastic lenses becasue I decided that the glass ones were getting too dangerous as popele started bouncing me harder + swinging chunks of wood in my direction with intent. (unfortuneatly my eyesight's now too bad for contacts)


Howdy folks,
Tricia, I gave up on
street glasses, and found even safety glasses frames unable to withstand the rigors of practice. I finally broke down and purchased a pair of rec spec sports goggles. So far they have taken abuse that would have trashed regular eyeware. My vision in the last few years has gotten worse, so it's a necessary evil for me to wear the cursed things. The first practices I attended, I did not wear my glasses and missed a lot of the finer points of

From: Andrew Laska <laska@NETCOM.COM>

Supposedly RecSpec has come out with a few new models of frames. There is a particular style that has a rubber layer over the entire frame. I can't describe it to well but suffice it to say I like them. Only recently have I decided to get RecSpecs. My glasses have put up with practice pretty well.


This is more on eyesight related to the concept and perception of Maai. Does the same person wearing glasses or contacts and then not wearing glasses or contacts notice any differences in the perception of Maai? I have discussed this with several Aikidoka who notice a difference. Does anyone out there have any insights or experiences to share?

From: x <Peter.Berck@KUB.NL>

I have glasses, but I take them off. My eyesight is not *that* bad that I can't see what's going on, nor that it affects my depth perception too much.

The people that do train with glasses in our dojo have the kind where the (uhm, what's the english word for them) 'metal things on your ears' :) bend all the way around the ears, so they stay on.

From: doug johnson <hfanr044@HUEY.CSUN.EDU>

I also wear glasses. I train with them on but also practice without them (they would probably be the first thing to go if I was ever attacked). I have been struck square between the eyes with glasses on and they broke. I have also been tapped with a bokken which knocked off my glasses. But I have never been injured as a result of wearing glasses or having long hair.

From: Chuck Gordon <cgordon@IQUEST.NET>

I wear glasses, too, and my eyesight is really poor (bad astigmatism). Fortunately, with the newer "high-tech" (read high-cost) lenses, they don't look like soda bottle bottoms! I also use the high impact plastic and I wear the round frames with the springy temple pieces that wrap behind my ears. This keeps them in place for all but the most gruelling training (and the occasional irimi/kokyu nage or stray atemi). However, much of the time, I discard them entirely and work blurry, partly because of the sweat and partly to enhance my training. Back 15 or 20 years ago when I was really enamored of the scream-and-leap sorts of martial arts (kempo), I found that glasses were high casualty rate items, 'coz we seniors usually went at it pretty much full contact when we did kumite. I learned fast to "unfocus" and rely on subtle clues in the blur and on some less definable instincts. Now, I find that working half-blind is a powerful tool (and practical, 'coz the glasses are the FIRST thing you'll lose in a fight) for body-sensing, non-visual determination of maai and kokyu.

Try it with a trusted partner for a while before jumping into a full-blown class blurry. It's amazing how much you can unlearn the reliance on hard visual cues ...

From: Laura Hague <leh@MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>

Almost makes me wish I had poor vision..... :)

A few months ago, a friend of mine was taking her 4th kyu exam. During the randori, her glasses were knocked off. They stopped just long enough to put her glasses off the mat, then resumed. The interesting aspect was that, without her glasses, her randori was *much* better than while she was still wearing them. Without the glasses, she was forced to use all her senses, instead of over-relying on sight. It was a very instructive demonstration.

From: Wil Macaulay <macaulay@SYNDESIS.COM>

BTW, I usually wear glasses, but I have contacts for use in the dojo (can't wear them to work, my eyes get too dry from staring at the monitor)

On one occasion, I didn't have time to go home and get them, and ended up practising in my glasses. I would watch the demonstration, then leave my glasses at the side. Halfway through ukemi for kaitenage ura I realized they were still on my nose - they stayed there just fine for the rest of the practice. My glasses have little springy things in the joint where the temple piece meets the part that holds the lens, so that they don't break if you hyper-extend them, but that also gives them a little bit of 'grip' so they don't fall off during ukemi.

From: Addison Larreau <alarreau@EOSC.OSSHE.EDU>

This topic of eyesight is of interest to me; my situation is that I was born with a birth-defect in my right eye, which I am legally blind in. "Legally blind" means that I can see light and movement to a very limited degree, but certainly could not function as a "seeing person" without the use of my left eye. I wear glass to both slightly correct the vision in the left eye, as well as to protect the vision in that eye. So, to get to my dual point, one, I feel that it is in my best interest to wear glasses while practicing to ward off stray thumbs, and second, I have no binocular depth perception (nor have I ever had b.d.p. - I do not know what it would be like to see in that manner.)

I have found that as long as I always use good atemi and/or maintain some type of contact, the lack of b.d.p. is not a hinderance. However, this is more difficult with weapons. Are there others out there with similar situations?

From: Gleb Arshinov <glebster@LELAND.STANFORD.EDU>

The issue of bad eye-sight is quite important for me, since I have strong myopia on both eyes. I tend to find the solution in contact lenses, however I am more than aware that chances are I will not be wearing contacts if I ever get into a situation where I will need Aikido to protect myself/others.

There are several things about myopia that I think can affect my Aikido. First of all, wearing glasses screws up one's depth perception big time. This is something I was completely unaware of until I started wearing contacts and noticed a significant improvement in my billiards game. I think this improvement is primarily caused by improved depth perception in contacts vs glasses, as well as improved range of focus ( what I mean is something analogous to photo, in contacts I can have a ball standing near a cushion, and another ball 8-9ft away, and I will be able to look at both of them at the same time, having both of them in focus, something I can't do in glasses). So, I believe, that my Aikido is better in contacts than in glasses, the difference being not very big, however. Now, the difference between contacts vs no contacts or glasses is much more profound. I trained like that only once, when I forgot to put my contacts on, and I didn't have those glasses' straps with me. The experience was very interesting. At first I felt very disoriented, but that went away soon. After a short period of adjustment I was able to enjoy the practice. I believe not being able to see clearly actually made me a better uke, since I was "anticipating" less than usual. Also, since I am a beginner, people tend to do atemi at a very slow speed to me, and usually am able to see it coming from quite far, so I have to consciously make an effort to react to it, as if it was done at a full speed/force. Yet, without contacts I simply could not see well enough, and for example seeing somebody's hand materialize 10cm's in front of my my nose had the effect it is supposed to have -- my upper body would stop and my legs would keep going, making me fall nicely -- all this happening without conscious effort, just instinctively, as it supposed to.

Furthermore, I think not having contacts, made me a better nage as well. I usually tend to "think through" the technique, instead of feeling through it. However, not being able to see properly somehow suppresses the "thinking part" of my brain, and I think that day my techniques were much more fluid than they usually are.

However, there was one big minus about training that day: not having contacts on I couldn't really see what sensei was doing, and had to rely on explanations of my partners (which is not that bad, but watching sensei is still better).

Well, to sum up my ideas:
1) I have 3 options:

1)to train without glasses or contacts
I don't usually do this, because I can't see sensei, and feel
somewhat uncomfortable
2)to train in glasses
I dislike this one, because of decreased depth perception, as
well as increased chance of injury (it REALLY hurts sometimes when
you get hit into the glasses)
3)to train in contacts
(incidently my sensei strongly encourages us 4-Eyes to train without
glasses or contacts since he believes that in a fight both glasses or
contacts will fall off almost inevitably)

2) Occasional training without either glasses or contacts can be very beneficial and fun (you know, its sort of close to those MA movies where people train blindfolded, except not quite that extreme)


I too wear glasses, but during practice I wear contacts since I've lost many a pair of glasses during sports or other physical activities. But in reply to your post, every once in a while Sensei will have us put on blindfolds so that we can't see a darned thing at all. I have found that when I can't rely at all on my eyes my whole body seems to come awake. Literally feeling when uke moves and doing technique just because of sensing or feeling something (help from the wiser and more experienced would be appreciated at this point since I'm not exactly sure what I am trying to explain or how to explain it.) Is that relatively confusing anyone except me yet? Good training to you all. Andy

From: Ralph Ray Craig <rrcraig@EOS.NCSU.EDU>

I finally got contacts because my glasses kept getting mangled and wouldn't stay on my face.

From: "Craig G. Hocker" <cgh6m@DARWIN.CLAS.VIRGINIA.EDU>

Well, since I started Aikido, I found the motivation to start wearing contact lenses. I am just on the borderline for what conventional disposables can handle for astigmatism. I have been told that new contact lenses have come out which can correct a stronger astigmatism.

Sometimes, I haven't had time to put the contacts in before practice. I agree that going through class with poor vision can be a good exercise. :-) and it saves my glasses.

From: Martin Tanner <mtanner@IBM.NET

I'm wearing glasses as-well and, without 'em I cannot even see who is the guy in front of me.
The last three years I have damaged two or even more glasses. Now I use to wear frames I got during military-service. (oh boy; a REAL UGLY thing, but with great features: They are flexible and twist at ukemi, they fall to pieces when strongly hit). No need to be 'en-vogue' in dojo.

I have tried a few times to do techniques without my glasses: Usefull experience! I wasn't able to concentrate on uke in particular - but more on his ki. I even felt more his movements than I saw 'em. Try to do a technique with your glasses off and you won't SEE uke, but feel him, and you'll feel ZANSHIN, too.

From: Kevan Whitten <kevan@MAINELINK.NET>

I, myself have very poor vision, as it was tested to be around 20/200 or so.

Nearly all of the practices that I have attended, I have practiced both uke and nagi without my glasses. While things and fellow students appear to be quite blurry, I have been able to keep up with everyone in the class. When my instructor does certain moves, I usually have to get right up close to see. I had contacts for a while (finances have kept me away from getting a new pair, however), and it was a big difference for me as I didn't have to have moves repeated with me standing less than two feet away.

One interesting thing that I noted in some of these postings - the use of blindfolds. While I haven't read all the posting regarding this particular subject, I have practiced on a few occassions with a blindfold. I found that I was able to adapt to it much easier than the students with perfect eyesight. Go figure.... :)