Little House In Ise

Performance Enhancing Substances in Aikido
February 15, 2009, 22:16
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , , , , ,

With pothead sumo wrestlers in the news here and the never-ending supply of professional athletes in the US who admit or get caught using various substances, I have been thinking about what would constitute a performance enhancer in AIkido. If there were such a thing, would it last? Would taking a shortcut on the path even be worthwhile?

In Judo, it is clear that the muscle, speed and, to a certain extent, endurance are important factors in winning the game. Judoka originally spurned weight-lifting and other strength training as their art was supposed to allow weaker more skilled practitioners win out over the stronger and less skilled. Practically however, weight training was shown to be an excellent way to gain a competitive edge. One would be hard pressed to find an Olympic class Judo player who does not incorporate some for of strength training into their regimen. It makes sense then that some of the strength/muscle enhancing substances could improve a Judo player’s chance of winning.

In Aikido, not using strength to execute technique is still the ideal. In fact, if a technique is performed with the external appearance of correctness but excess strength was required to make it happen then many Aikidoka would say that it was done “wrong”. At the very least, more “advanced” Aikidoka might say that the person performing the technique still didn’t “get it” (I am an example of not quite getting it). Additionally, since in Aikido there is no competition (in the main line varieties) there is no push to take technique into the realm of pure muscle common in competitive Judo. Based on these two factors it seems likely that steroids and other muscle building substances are NOT appropriate for people hoping to grow their Aikido.

Olympic archers and marksmen and possibly even chess players have discovered the benefits of Beta Blockers for reducing heart rate and panic attacks. Olympic shooters, apparently, fire between heart beats and so a reduced heart rate provides a longer window to do their thing. Chess players may or may not get any benefit from these drugs but there are reports that end game stress has caused heart-rates to shoot up into the panic range normally seen in a fight-or-fight adrenaline dump (chess may not be a sport but it IS a martial art). From what I can see, it seems likely that the use that musicians who fight stage fright with beta blockers are the closest example of how such a thing mght be used in Aikido. I know from experience that tests can be the source of extreme stress and tension. That sort of stress is the enemy of the relaxed power needed to perform Aikido properly. So, beta blockers at test time could make an Aikidoka more relaxed and able to perform. However, that gets back to the point of the test. It may not necessarily be to raise you to the next rank but rather to expose you to the sort of stress and tension that causes good Aikido to fail. In that case the point is to experience the stress and overcome it on our own rather than with doctors little helper.

I am not sure what I think of Ritalin and the drugs that seem to induce focus. That sounds like a good thing. For now I will take the Amish approach to technology and say, “No” first until more definitive information is available and then make a judgement. For my part, I have to admit there is one performance enhancing substance that I have grown very fond of.

As a morning class regular, I am now used to waking at the crack of early and hauling my sorry ass out of bed to be beaten by angry old men. To make matters worse, I seem to have left the resilience of my twenties behind, twenty years or so ago. In fact, sometimes just walking that early in the morning can be a challenge. So, I have my little helper — Ibuprofen. Known by its street name, “knee candy” this stuff gets me from limping to flying in about thirty minutes (15 spent stretching). Really, it is a chemical that makes my Aikido better.

Who am I to judge a sumo wrestler for using a little herb to get his munchies on? Those boys need their cheetohs to maintain a competitive edge!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am so happy, I have a test coming soon, 2kyu 🙂 Can’t wait!

No Ibuprofen yet for me, thank you. But morning cocoa does miracles (in the mornings that I A- am able to get up at all, and B- have any time to prepare the sweet hot drink; which practically comes onyl to morning DREAMS of cocoa, but the thought also helps. eh). And chocolate is a step too far already, I will leave this for when I’m 20 years older I think.

A curious questions: you take Ibuprofen right before practice?

Comment by Kadi

Hi Kadi,

Good luck on your test! I am sure that you will blow the judges away!

I actually try NOT to take it but since it’s not really good for the old liver. However, I have a bum foot, and some mornings it really let’s me know that it wants to stay in bed. Letting one stupid foot ruin my practice is not on my agenda so, on the bad days, I’ll take some right after getting out of bed. It does more than help my foot though. On days when I’ve had a little knee candy, my stretches go deeper or wider or whateverer and I can squat (lower center) much better.

Comment by Eric Holcomb

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

Comment by RaiulBaztepo

Hello !!!! ^_^
I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
Sorry for my bad english:)
Thank you!
Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

Comment by PiterKokoniz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: