094) My Damn Shoulders Messing Up My Aikido….. July 2012

How many of us have been struggling with improper movement of our shoulders, which mucks up our Aikido?  This area has been an intense focus for me as I have been learning to improve my Aikido by allowing my shoulders to function properly.  The shoulder joint is a ball joint.  The head of the humerus bone rests inside of the Glenoid cavity of our Scapulua.  The ball joint can rotate inside of this cavity, allowing the arm to have a large range of motion.  Additionally, the Clavicle and ribs allow the scapula a range of movement, further enhancing the range of arm movement.

When we are relaxed, arm and shoulder movements, can provide us with a better understanding of how our arms and shoulders can move in a variety of ways.  It never ceases to amaze me how we can mess this movement up as soon as we experience incoming force from another person or object.  We quickly find ourselves either locking our shoulders into our bodies, or placing our shoulders in positions that essentially isolate the arms from whole body movement.

If someone is grabbing us, it is so common to tighten our Trapezuis and Pectoralis muscle, so that our shoulder lifts up and away from our body, reducing our ability to allow the arm to rotate upwards.  If you think about, we can easily understand and feel our Romboid, Deltoid and Latissimus Dorsi muscle enabling the ball of the humerus to roll down the backside of the body, which causes the humerus to rise in front of us (simply put, raising our arms).  Those same muscles can cause the ball of the humerus to roll down the front side of the body, which allows the humerus to be lowered (simply put, lowering our arms).  The same dynamics are involved when we want to raise and lower our arms at the side of our bodies.

Another important aspect of shoulder movement, is the correct movement that allows the scapula the ability to move, without compromising our body structures when we are experiencing incoming force.  One of the warm-up drills that I employ has us rolling our shoulder structures in a circular movement on a sagittal plane (front to back of our bodies).  When we can move our scapula without excess contraction from the trapezius and pectoralis muscles, our shoulders can move without compromising our arm movements and ability to manage incoming and outgoing forces.

I would like us to spend this month focusing how we move our shoulders as we receive an attack and execute techniques.  It has been quite a revelation for us already, as to how important this subject matter is in significantly bettering our Aikido.

Marc Abrams Sensei

ps.-  During the summer, maintain good hydration and LISTEN to your bodies in this hot weather.  Training your body to function well in very hot conditions is important to do right!

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