Can Someone Over 40 Do Aikido?

Here is another question from one of my website visitors, and here is my answer to him, originally published in my Aikido Newsletter.

Hi David.

I’m 41 years old and have always wanted to do Aikido. But lots of people told me that I would have to deal with injuries, most of which will become chronic.

Injuries are part of Aikido and the more you train, the more injuries you’ll have. And they don’t always depend on your technique or lack thereof. Other people make mistakes too, and you end up paying for them.

If I have this psychological barrier – fear if you will – to injuries, do you think I should just bite the bullet and do Aikido, hoping that I won’t get injured, or should I try Tai Chi or something?

Thanks for your response.

Alex Kust***

Hi Alex,

My first teacher, Virginia Mayhew (Bailey) taught me that injuries in class were the teacher’s responsibility. Of course we are all human and small injuries sometimes occur – for example, I have broken toes twice. That’s very painful but not a serious handicap. They heal.

Judo and Aikido seem to do knee injuries, so I have always concentrated on the circular knee exercises that Hideo Obah Sensei emphasized so much when he stayed with us in Sydney back in the 1980s. (Ahah! That is something I should add to the website, eh?)

Sometimes a clumsy beginner may apply a wrist lock too hard. (Experienced students are most unlikely to cause you an injury.)

The late John Gay Sensei taught me that students with a poor attitude should be ‘weeded out’ by the teacher quickly. Gradings should never be taken for granted, and it is the martial arts instructor or teacher’s job to examine every student’s attitude towards others, and not judge them merely on their technical ability.


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