For almost 30 years, I have done the traditional warm-ups at the start of our classes. We do those warm-ups to get our bodies ready for practice and to give our minds an opportunity to get present and re-capture the four principles after whatever de-centering experiences we have had in our days. These past weeks I have had an opportunity to appreciate some additional benefits of those rituals.
Some of you are aware that I have been dealing with a leg/hip problem this summer. At some point I realized that soreness was becoming pain and I decided to get an x-ray for some additional perspective. Along with the x-ray came some dismal medical opinions that included ‘moderate arthritis,’ ‘stop running,’ ‘your aikido caused this.’ I didn’t feel these opinions made complete sense, given what I was experiencing in my body. I thanked all, took a few deep breaths and had a physical therapist suggest some exercises. They definitely helped and I was able to attend Camp.
After Camp, I had an opportunity for a session with a body worker I knew in Spokane who added a few more exercises. Funny thing….one of those exercises bore a strange resemblance to ude mawashi. Hmmm. This started me thinking. I began to consider all of the exercises suggested to me in the past few months. I realized that they all bore some sort of relationship to stretches covered in our opening warm-ups.
In 2015, as many of you know, I have had to cut back significantly on my teaching in the Rochester dojo as my husband and I built a second home in Spokane. In January I gave Marcella my Thursday night class. This summer I had to change my teaching status for Saturdays from ‘here are the dates when I can’t teach’ to ‘assume I am not teaching unless I show up.’
So after 30 years of performing those warm ups at least twice and often three times a week, they had pretty much disappeared from my weekly exercise regiment despite my continued running/walking training. Hmmm. That is a petty drastic change in conditioning training. Could this have set the stage for my current problems?
I will probably never have an answer to that question but I now start each day with our warm-ups/ki exercises. Interestingly, my hip and leg are responding very well. I can feel mini-realignments taking place and movements that caused pain a few weeks ago now just have a residual soreness.
I have a new respect for the value of our warm-ups in my physical conditioning. I strongly feel that over the years they have been a contributing factor in my agility, not just on the mat but off.
So, please, whether you can make it to practice or not, consider taking the time in your daily routine to run through our warm-ups and ki exercises.