Sunday, March 29, 2009

Aikido body armor?

I've wondered before when did I get old, but it seems like the process is accelerating.

I remember when I started aikido, I noticed the older guys in the dojo had a series of taping, bracing and padding they would go through before any class. I remember thinking at the time, "Boy, if I'm a careful student, that won't happen to me." Of course, this can only be seen now as quaint sentiment.

It all started with some mild repetitive stress in my elbow, ironically, not aikido related (those computers will kill ya), and I applied an elbow brace to combat it. Unfortunately, I think I over used the brace for a few days because suddenly, I developed upper back pain in that arm's shoulder.

Unlike the elbow pain, this was completely debilitating. It felt like someone had inserted a knife in my shoulder blade. Those of you familiar with back pain will know how ever-present it is, but for me it was a new experience.

After a course of acupuncture, tui na, electrical stimulation of the meridians and -- most importantly -- rest, I've managed to subdue the pain, but it was tough going for a while.

I was able to return to the mat on Saturday, and the shoulder held up well, but I immediately tweaked my knee! Just poor footwork on my part. I'll plead the 2-week hiatus took me out of proper form.

So Sunday I found myself dressing for class, I put on a fairly heavy duty knee brace on my left knee, and a lesser on on my right. Elbow pad on one arm and tape for my bruised finger on my other. I suddenly realized I'd become one of the "old guys" I derided early in my aikido career.

The next step is total body armor -- maybe a kind of modern-samurai with a dash of medieval...

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