A throw back to when Ryu Dojo was closed during the first lock down last year: Some of Ando Sensei’s tips for training at home! The first exercise is with a ken, but you can also do it empty handed if you don’t have a ken (although a short stick of any kind is also fine 🙂 The important points in this exercise are to keep your heels together, your butt down on your heels and to twist your hips to when cutting down with the ken (use the twist of the hips to create the angle when cutting down.) Also, make sure that the big toe of the foot is working hard during this exercise.
With the ken or empty-handed, try not to use too much strength in your arms, especially the shoulders. Relax the upper body and make sure you maintain a kamae arm (elbows lightly bent and wrists slightly cocked.) Don’t grip the ken too tightly with your fist and when empty-handed, keep the fingers wide open. This exercise develops lower body strength and flexibility especially the knees; ankles and toes. The second exercise will really work your core muscles although it should also help stretch and relax your lower back (which should be hurting a little after using your centre to control the movements of the ken…) Beginners can start by holding their knees and just rocking back and forth or rocking back with arms outstretched. Work towards being able to rock back up on to your feet. Again, one of the key points in this exercise is to not stiffen up and use too much physical strength. Keep your whole body relaxed.
Aikido Training at home with Ando Sensei #2: The next 2 exercises are for practicing pivots. The first is seated – raise your hands as if blocking a front strike. Bring all your weight onto your left knee and pivot. While pivoting bring your hands out in front of you as in Shomen uchi ikkajo Osae (2). Repeat. Next, do the opposite side. Bring all your weight onto your right knee and pivot. The knee bearing all your weight is your axis and shouldn’t shift before or during the pivot. Also try not to let your butt float up while pivoting and try to keep your heels together at all times. People with bad knees or hard floors at home can do the exercise standing. Make sure the back foot is angled out to the side after completing the pivot (with the heel tucked in.) The final exercise is for lower body strength and flexibility. Those of you who don’t happen to have a large rock lying around the house can fill a 2L plastic bottle with water or use anything else heavy. Stay healthy; stay positive!