Did the unthinkable (my Aikido journey)


Staff member

The chiropractor, having come back from his holiday, put my dislocated rib back where it belongs, so Monday I was back practising ukemi. Just forward rolls for the time being; I'm skittish about doing back rolls since it was a back roll that was the last of a series of events that wrinkled my rib in the first place.

Yesterday, whilst being uke during a shihonage technique, my partner got a bit rough, and I went down rather harder than I really wanted to, and got the wind knocked out of me. Poor guy, he was having fits and conniptions thinking he'd killed me because I'd made this really weird noise going down, and once down, I didn't get up.

It really was just the wind knocked out of me (not to mention a friction burn on my arm), but I was so mad at something, I'm not sure what, that I almost started to cry. I was all right in a minute or two, though, and raring to get back into the practice. It was, in retrospect, actually very funny, and I'm still laughing about it today.

I just wish I could progress faster, but I guess it's better that I just take it slow and easy for the time being. I think I am becoming more flexible, although my left shoulder and right hip are resisting my efforts towards that end.

Knee-walking is still beyond me, but I think once I lose more weight, I think I should be able to do that. Still, I don't see myself taking a 6th kyu test this year.

Oddly enough, when practising the techniques, I do find it easier to fall down backwards (though not completing a back roll just yet) than doing a forward roll, but in ukemi practice, I can do a forward roll tolerably well, but still not the backward roll.

This whole "relaxing" thing... I've been tense for longer than I can remember, and it's proving to be another one of those little hurdles I have to get over.

I've promised my mates at my writers' workshop they will be invited to see me take my first test. That ought to be good for a few laughs....


New Member
Forget about knee-walking - people who have knee problems have the options to avoid it. It is not mandatory.

I've seen an older blackbelt woman do standing throws instead of suwari-waza throws because her knees were bad. After all, it's better than doing nothing at all.
During shikko however you should be allowed to avoid that one altogether.


Staff member
Well, I have been allowed to avoid shikko practice, but I think my problem with it has less to do with having bad knees and more to do with the unbendability of my knees as well as my toes (not to mention I'm about twice as heavy as I should be, and supporting all that weight on my toes is proving to be a bit of a problem).

Also, and this is really embarrassing, I can't actually sit seiza properly either. I can't straighten out my instep so sitting seiza for any length of time (i.e. more than 30 seconds) results in unbearable agony in my ankles, and my knees refuse to bend far enough to allow my butt to rest on my heels, not to mention the circulation getting cut off from the knees down. I'm doing better than I was, originally; but it's still really, really uncomfortable. And because of my stiff hip, I can't sit cross-legged, either!

I hate this body. It's so not fair that what I got stuck with doesn't work the way it's supposed to. I have so many problems, it's no wonder I get discouraged from time to time.

For sure I won't be trying any forward rolls from the standing position until I've lost at least half of what I need to lose - and even then, I'm squeamish about it simply because I can't bend close enough to the mat to roll without falling (and potentially wrecking my rib again).

By the way, despite all this whingeing, I am still having a heck of a lot of fun, and I am hanging onto the dream I had one night that I was wearing a hakama.

There's another seminar hosted by the Japanese Cultural Centre next month, but it's really, really expensive and I've barely got enough funds to cover the next quarter's fees.

Next class tomorrow night!

-TD, who keeps trying to convince her body to relax

Amos Stevens

New Member
WEll glad to hear even though you're having some problems TD,that you're enjoying yourself!
As shihonage said, people that train in martial arts some times have disabilities or health problems that limit their use of a particular area of their body or just plain can't do certain things..so they don't.But they do the best that they can in their own form :)


New Member
You know that woman I mentioned who can't do suwari-waza ? She can't sit in seiza, and she can't sit cross-legged either.

But she managed to find a way. She brings a pillow-type thing to class that she strategically puts under her butt/hips/whatever, and that allows her to sit crosslegged somehow. Since I am not familiar with specifics of your problem and I am not a doctor, I can't say that this will work for you, but you could experiment with it at home.


Staff member
The problem is with my right hip. I've always had a tilted hip, but over the past four years, probably from sitting too much and sitting crookedly at that, the muscles have bunched up and pulled it out of position, and it has stiffened up to the point that it is nearly immobile. I'm going to the chiropractor to see if he can put it right, and I think there has been improvement; I can lift it over my left leg just a bit higher than I could a couple of months ago, and, of course, the warm-up exercises in class help as well.

It's a mechanical problem, not a chronic one, and I think with time it'll get sorted; but, as ever, I have to restrain my impatience because I want it to function properly NOW!

At class last night I did more ukemi practice, this time trying a back roll (oh, my, does my rib hurt today. I wonder if it'll ever get any better?). I almost had it a couple of times; one of the senior students told me my back is getting "softer" and that my feet and hips are ending up in the correct position once I complete a roll, so I guess I am improving, but it's a slow process, to be sure!

What I want to work on is footwork. Sometimes the instructor goes too fast and I can't memorise the footwork and end up getting my feet all tangled up. Also, each instructor has his list of techniques to teach and it never seems to be the one any of the other instructors are teaching... so I end up getting confused a lot!

I think things will settle down shortly, though; there is testing taking place on April 11th for quite a few people, from 6th kyu to 1st kyu, so they are trying to get in practice for those testing - which means us beginners get swept along with the tide for the more experienced ones about to be tested!

I despair of ever getting proficient enough to be tested, though; there's this one girl started about a month ago, never done aikido before, and she's already doing forward rolls from the standing position, and seems to have a better grasp of the techniques than I do.

I keep reminding myself, "practice and patience, practice and patience" but it does sometimes get a bit disheartening being a turtle when there are hares zooming past left and right.


Old member aikidoka
TD - In budo there is no such thing as "I want to..." or "...right now" and especially not together " I want to.../ /...right now". If it will take you a week, month or year to be able to do something then that is what it is about for you. Budo in general and aikido in particular is a path without end, not a lane with a finish line.
As you already found out by now this path test your patience all the time. That is as it should be. You will not really progress untill you put aside what you want to be able to do tomorrow. There is now tomorrow or yesterday for that matter in aikido. Just this moment in time and space when you do your best to perform a forward roll or kata dori ikkyo.



Staff member
Exactly. And it's proving to be a hard lesson to learn, because I've never been the most patient of people. The wrinkled rib was a wake-up call...


Potters Clay
Just do your best. Each person has a different pace for doing things. sounds like the other students are cocky and arrogant. Stand up to them...if you let them push you around, it will just get worse. When I was in school I didn't start standing up for myself until 12th grade. Only then did they leave me alone when they realized they couldn't push me around anymore.
Your a tough cookie....you can do it!! :)


New Member
I know how it feels to be a turtle... After 5 years I only tested for 3rd kyu last August... I've seen guys who joined later than me zoom by to shodan in 2, 3 or 4 years. But its just... you know... screw it. I am going at my own pace. Who knows, if I raced toward shodan like they did, maybe I would've burned out on Aikido by now.


Staff member
There's testing at my dojo tonight. It's going to be a lot of fun... to watch! As for my chances of ever being ready to be tested... let's just say they're about as good as my ever meeting Steven Seagal live and in person. In other words... as if!

-TD, not sure if she should even bother posting in her own threads any more


New Member
Hey TD,
Congrats!!! You have done well to have started down this difficult road and stuck with it through your medical conditions. At my first Aikido school we had one gentleman in a wheelchair and a blind judge studying with us. The things they could do were amazing!
I think you need to focus on your achievements more. You have done well!
May I suggest more harmony in conflicts in the dojo. Recognize the other students and your own shortcomings, then blend as the situation allows. As Bruce Lee said, "Be water my friend, be water".
Your ongoing tale serves as inspiration for all to observe, and thank you for sharing!
With your physical limitations your attitude and commitment are paramount. Please watch your diabetes closely! My father was insulin dependent and I monitored his blood sugar as many as ten times a day. He wouldn't let me use the finger pricking device, had to use the sharp bare handed because I had "a good touch" according to him.
Did you attend the testing at your dojo? If so, what did you think?

Domo Arigato


Staff member
Testing was... amazing. There were tests for every rank up to 1st kyu (black belt testing isn't done in the dojo), as well as 1st level weapons (very loud when those bokkans crash together, I can tell you!).

The ones who were really good made it look so effortless. Everyone passed, except for one person testing at the introductory level of weapons. But she'd literally just stepped off an international flight, and I think hadn't slept in nearly 24 hours. Don't know why she didn't forego the test until the next round.

There were comments by the judges after the class, about how those, having passed, could continue to improve their techniques.

One of the testers was a little girl (a very little girl!) of about 10 or 11 years old testing for 4th kyu. She was absolutely amazing. The judges had a little bit of fun with her, though - she had to do a 3-man randori, and when the judges called for volunteer uke, all three of the highest ranking black belts got up to face her. You should have seen her face - her eyes got as big as saucers, she wasn't expecting to deal with black belts in her randori! But she took 'em on, and all you could see were hakamas flying through the air.

At the other end of the scale, testing for 1st kyu was a 62-year-old woman, very tiny and fragile looking. She got the black belts plus one for a 4-man randori and boy, was she surprised, too!

From my perspective, it's going to be a cold day in hell before I'm ever ready for testing. I think I'll just stick to doing the best I can and leave off testing for people who can actually do the techniques without injuring themselves every two or three days.


Staff member
I've come to the conclusion there are some things I can't do, and irimi nagi is one of them.

We had a different instructor last night than the usual Thursday one, and he, being present at the testing, took note of the comments that the irimi nagi techniques performed by those being tested needed work (interesting to note that only one of those who were tested was actually there last night - so the rest of us have to suffer!).

I can never, ever figure out where my feet are supposed to go, so I end up taking more steps than necessary, and getting myself off-balance (never mind getting uke off-balance).

I guess I'm going through one of my "why'd I ever take this up" moments again. I'm discouraged because the injury is not getting any better (when I can feel the aching even through the anti-inflammatories, I know something's not right); I've had to suspend doing ukemi so I'm falling behind in perfecting those techniques; I've had my 40 classes so I'm supposedly ready to take a 6th kyu test- yeah, as if. My right hip continues to remain stubbornly stiff so I can't do a forward roll on that side properly. And I get frustrated when I'm confronted by a technique that I just simply can't get a body-sense for.

I guess I'll just have to suck it up and keep going, and hope the injury heals. I think I've been taking too many falls and maybe that's why it isn't getting along with healing as fast as it should. (I can't believe tripping over a damned carpet would cause so much grief.)

-TD, frustrated about all of her failings


New Member
TDWoj, please try not to fall for the typical mistake. Its like when a person goes to the gym and on their first day they work out 3 hours with excessive weights and overextend all their tendons and then can't walk or move for a month.

Try not to do that. Work on things that you can work on. Don't try to improve everything at once. Do the irimi nage step by step, with deliberate pauses. At this point the most important thing is to learn to forward roll without self-injury. Learning the ukemi precedes learning the throws in its importance.

There are people who test after 40 hours, yes. I took the beginner's class two months in a row, myself. Guess how many hours it took before I took my first test ? 228 hours. One year and seven months it took me to get some sense of confidence about my technique and finally test. And thats okay. And you should feel okay too. Its not about who gets to the finish line faster, its about who drops out of class and who stays. Nobody should look down on you whether you choose or not choose to test.

The important thing is to keep going, not punish yourself when nothing seems to work, just take it easier. This is not a college exam and you're not some glutton for self punishment. This is you, the adult, paying for a monthly training so you can learn at your own pace.


Staff member
My sensei wants to put me down for testing in the next round, June, but I reminded her that I was way behind in my ukemi practice because of the injury, and she agreed to let me wait until September. I wanted December, but she's not letting me go that long....

I have May 18th marked on my calendar as the date I start practicing ukemi - as long as my back lets me do it. However, I think I had an accidental set-back today, which was both aggravating and funny.

We were practicing nikkyo and Sensei, while watching me and my partner struggle with the move (this one was a variation - nikkyo in an upward sweeping motion instead of the usual "bow down" motion), decided to step in and demonstrate - on me! Okay. Left hand, fine, I went down on one knee but I did anticipate (because from uke's point of view, nikkyo has to be the most painful hold, at least so far). So I tried not to anticipate when she demo'd on my right hand. Except she forgot that my joints aren't flexible and one slight twist caused this tremendous crrrracccck! in my wrist - I swear, it was like a rifle going off in your ear, and down I went like a ton of bricks, landing on my back (which I'd been oh-so-carefully avoiding doing while it was still healing).

Sensei thought she'd killed me; or at least broken my wrist. She was this close to panicking, and me, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I did say I was all right, I'd just had the wind knocked out of me again, and I got up and went back into practice. My wrist was sore from the move - for about 10 seconds. Afterwards, I have to say it felt better than it had in a long time! An unexpected chiropractic adjustment, as it turned out!

The bad news was my back. It was hurting so badly, I thought I'd re-injured it; but the pain went away after about an hour, so maybe it was just slightly inflamed from the unexpected fall.

I really hope this soft-tissue injury heals. I'm doing everything possible not to exacerbate it, but I am anxious to get back to ukemi practice. There is another seminar in June that I'd like to attend, and I want to participate as fully as possible.

I also wish I could relax. I've been sleeping very badly lately; more tensely than usual, with very stiff neck and shoulders in the morning, and knowing by the fact that the inside of my cheeks are chewed raw that I've been grinding my teeth again. This only happens when I'm extremely stressed out, and I can't figure out where the stress is coming from - I'm not working on any big, deadline-demanding job at the moment. Maybe it's because I'm not working enough, and knowing that I don't have the money to pay for my income tax outstanding (note to self: mail income tax return tomorrow), indeed no money for anything at all... but I'm always worried about money, so it's nothing new.

What I probably need is a holiday. Actually, just some sunshine and warm weather would be nice (it's been horribly cold and miserable, though thankfully, the snow that hit London, Ontario missed us).

Anyway, training progresses, though slowly. While I'm aware one needs to learn ukemi before one learns the techniques, I've had to make adjustments for my current circumstance (and hope that what the doctor told me was true, and that healing should occur in six weeks, hence the date of May 18th to return to practicing ukemi).

I don't want to give this up - I'm really enjoying it in spite of all the weird little injuries I've been getting. That's just because I'm old and stiff and the body still has a long way to go before it's supple and limber - if ever.

-TD, The Amazing Pretzel


Staff member
I started in January of this year, so I haven't been at it for very long. I have a few physical limitations - my joints are very stiff, and I have a hip that has rotated out of position, making it almost impossible for it to move properly, although with classes and chiropractic treatments, it seems to be improving.

My main concern at the moment is the soft-tissue injury resulting from a dislocated rib that I got in March, which isn't healing. This may be due to some medication I'm on, and may mean, in the end, I'll have to quit. I hope not. This is the first thing I've done in a long time that I really get enjoyment out of (minor frustrations aside) and I want to keep going, for as long as I can. People older than I and with as many if not more limitations have taken up aikido, and have progressed through the different levels. If I can just get over this injury, I'm certain I can do it, too.

Thank you for asking.