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Skiing and Martial Arts

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
No. I'm not talking about beating up snowboarders! [img]smile.gif[/img]

But something I've heard a few times lately has struck me as interesting.

Martial Artists have the lowest incidence of ACL injury! The speculated reason, is that training in bare feet on unstable surfaces {mats} leads to better balance and proprioception. Remember, ACL injuries have become more prevalent as footwear has become more technological.

I know there are many on this forum who practice martial arts. The more I think about it, along with the proprioception skills, and learning to REALLY use your feet properly, the fast reaction times required in a martial arts setting are probably great for skiing.

I was a flunky at MA, since I dislike masculine agressive movement. {I'm probably one of the few fitness instructors out there who did not jump into the "kickbox" fad}
A less than professional Sensei was part of the problem, but that's not open to public discussion.

But although I joked on the beating up boarder thing, one thing that did stay with me, is the idea of using your opponent's strength against them. Perhaps that's why I usually don't fall if I'm hit.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 09, 2002 08:03 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #2 of 35
That's interesting Lisamarie! I am new to skiin, but I've been studying Tae Kwon Do for a few years. Can't say anything in skiing reminds me of Karate, but I did take to skiing pretty naturally!
post #3 of 35
Easy answer on this one ... at least I think so.

We did extensive stretching before every training and strength was developed in progressions through training in stances.

I don't fully understand ACL but, I doubt that you have the same dynamics of resistance in a fall backwards such as the boot, binding and the tail of the ski.

Stretching usually lasted about a full half hour for senior belts, usually with a partner. High leg lifts and work on a (ballet type) bar. This would be followed by a formal line up with emphasis on warming and stretching for about ten minutes.

This is my biggest criticism of my kids race team where they spend "0" time on stretches.

Most of our injuries were from a hard fall, usually you slipped in a sweat puddle and did a crash and burn. I was often sore but rarely pulled something.
post #4 of 35
Rather than thinking of using your opponent's (colliding skier) strength against them, think of it as redirecting their movement around you.

This thought brings us to balance while moving!

Rather than "bracing" for the impact, if you "go with the flow", you can stay on your feet easier. I trained for 8 years in a martial art style that was very linear...we accepted "blows" and then having "contact", redirected the force. A friendlier style I have studied for 15 years is circular movements and avoids contact first, then connects at our choosing. If we don't want to connect, fine. Avoid! To avoid, we have to be aware of what is around us, and how things move.

Lisamarie-this also leads into dealing with the traffic flow of skiing around and through groups.

Martial artists deal with movement patterns, and reaction to changes. As we have said many times, it all comes back to balance. If you maintain your balance, and an external mental approach, you can maintain your balance after a collision, or even avoid a hard one if you "sense" it coming.

You have the balance part down. You have the "go with the flow" part down. Now the "sensing" part.

There is a book out..."Take your brain to the mountain". Being aware of your anxiety(sound familiar?) and arousal zone you can train yourself to be "external" in your skiing. Absorb what's around you. Listen to the sound of your skiis, and the skiis of others around you. Be comfortable with what your feet are doing to look around (and behind) you while skiing. While I am skiing, I take a quick look behind me after a few turns. This is now a natural thing. I know I am not that external while snowboarding, because I have to remind myself to do this.

Another martial artist thought... avoid conflict.

Two styles that might be for you... Aikido and Tai Chi. Both are wonderful(played in both for a total of 5 years).

Getting back to your ACL comment. I don't know of a martial artist that doesn't do a good warm up and warm down. Can't say that about golf and tennis!
post #5 of 35
Skiing and Martial Arts fit together very well, growing up my "other" sport (besides skiing) was a variety of Martial Arts. Besides discipline, strength and flexibility - the less "Americanized" varients in particular have a lot of focus on being truly centered and "mindless" body awareness.

For fellow martial arts geeks, I've studied - and in order of preferance:

KarateDo (Okinawan)
Kung Fu (Toeng Leong)
KarateDo (North Mainland)

Had to change styles so much because I moved constantly most of my life!

Incidentally, the book that I think is still overall the finest instructional ski book ever written, was written by a Martial Artist/Skier . . . "Centered Skiing" by Denise McCullage

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 09, 2002 08:03 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 
Great replies so far, thanks!
Denise McCluggage talks about going from T'ai chi to T'ai ski.

In chapter 1, page 3, she speaks about learning Tai chi:

And through it my body learned the mingling of opposites, learned what intellectuation could not teach. Going out is coming back, rising is falling, stillness is moving, extending is absorbing, dispersing is collecting . <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

post #7 of 35
She is an awesome lady. Skier, martial artist and car racer . . . pretty cool!

I know this is not true in every location, but the two places I studied TaeKwon-Do at were very different from the other martial arts I'd experienced - in that it was nearly completely non-spiritual. I don't mean "spiritual" in a religious sense, any of you with martial arts background should know what I mean. No - it was excellent physical work, and it certainly got into mental disipline - but it lacked the focus on being mentally/spiritually centered that I enjoyed so much in the other martial arts. It seemed more along the lines of boxing in mentality, or perhaps kickboxing. Again, I'm sure this is not true of all the studios that teach it.

The martial art that I've always wanted to study but have never had a Dojo nearby that teaches - is Aikido. Its philisophy of having no strikes, and of balance and centeredness - appeals to me very much.

I did study Hapkido, which is very much like Aikido in that you use an 'opponents' energy against them, or allow them to use it against themselves. But differs from Aikido in that after their energy is directed away from you, you hit them.
post #8 of 35
Hey - I just found out that there IS an Aikido studio in town . . . and just spent a bunch of time looking at an excellent FAQ on the art: http://www.aikidofaq.com

I think I'm going to go watch a class this week!
post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
Oh man, that song book! 50 ways to throw your UKE! Ha!
They do sound pretty well rounded, no 'stupid' comments in the injury section.

I've taken a bit of T'ai Chi and the rest was Tae Kwon Do. I do agree, there was not much spirituality the later. {no offense, Nicholas} But part of this could have been a matter of practicality, since this was in NYC, and as far as the girls were concerned, the first order of business was to make us mean, tough.. and safe.

I never got too mean and tough, physically, although some may say I make up for it, verbally.

But something kee tov said rang true, regarding an awareness of your surroundings and how you react to them. If I gained anything from those classes, that was what stayed with me. On the hill, its the intuition that someone skiing behind me is not in control, in my relatively peaceful town, at night, its the awareness that someone a block away might cause me some "trouble".

One of the things we spoke about at JC Santana's workshop, was the idea that if your main sport required quick reaction time and spontaneity, cross training with a sport that has the same reuirements is a good idea.

Its that Cat or Salamander thing, all over again.

Yuki, I am still thinking about the stretching thing. Its so darn tricky. For some people, its extremely important, but for others, who have too much joint laxity, it can be deadly. But since most participants of martial arts classes are male, the stretching probably has pretty positive results.

But the idea of strength being developed in progressions is crucial. In many sports, people try to jumpt to the finished product too soon.

I'd love to hear more on this!
post #10 of 35

I'm looking forward to your opinion of Aikido. I loved it when I had a sensei to train with. It was so peaceful and external.

Everyone in the school I attended were "white" belts. No one had "bragging" rights. A friend of mine tested for his black belt, finally earned it. So, he was invited to conduct an exercise, and blew it big time! The sensei calmly looked at him and removed his belt. "You are not centered".

He was handed back his belt the following week. Like everyone in the class, he continued to wear his white belt, not showing his rank. Humility.

It's about movement, not clothing. The energy flow is neat to have moving through a crowd. Enjoy the experience.

In Rutland, Tuttle Publishers (Rt 4 across from the park)has a nice selection of Aikido books. (last time I looked was 3 years ago.)

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 10, 2002 03:03 AM: Message edited 1 time, by KeeTov ]</font>
post #11 of 35
As a former adherent to TKD, Hapkido, & Akido, I think you are right it depends on the teacher as to the amount of centredness.

However, in any position of danger be it a late night city street, or a snow covered mountain, one should always cultivate an awareness of what is going on around one, so as to able to avoid an unpleasant event, rather than merely struggling to overcome it, once it has befallen one.

A prophylactic is always more agreeable than a cure.
post #12 of 35
The belt thing has always been interesting in various martial arts. I've earned my 1st Dan in two different styles, and when I was younger there was some inevitable ego attachement to those black belts. But now I must say I much more admire how Aikido handles it (most Dojo's), everybody is in white belts but the teacher.

The original idea anyways is that belts are simply something to hold ones pants up with. And as one works and studies over the years, the belt would naturally just get darker with dirt and age. But then eventually the belt would fray and lighten up again, symbolizing a return to innocence.

A Sensi of mine from Okinawa told me years ago that he did not think the belt should be anything but something to hold the pants up with, but that he had found that Americans are happier being able to measure themselves against each other - an ego issue. The belt I think is the most extreme result of this, and in a sad way, is the "Camo" belt.

I think that one of the core concepts of martial arts is letting the ego go, and the entire idea of wearing a "rank" within classes is contrary to this.
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Okay, my inquiring students asked me to find out how many of you who practice martial arts have NOT had an ACL. Some ofthem are "soccer moms", or have their kids at ski academies, so they are curious as to whether cross training with martial arts can actually prevent injuries.

I tried to explain {nicely} that that should not be the ONLY reason you have your kids go to martial arts classes, but I'd be interested to hear your answers.
post #14 of 35
Well Lisa, I can assure you that, as long as I practiced Judo, I never suffered any serious injury like torn ACLs and so on.
Judo, despite being a "heavy" discipline, gave me flexibility, taught me how to fall without suffering from it.
The fact that I was young (I've been a judoka from 10 to 19) could also have helped.
But I used to fall a lot, while skiing, and never broke a thing.
Three to four years after stopping Judo, I suffered a motorbike accident, and broke my L1..
I am convinced that my body had by then forgotten most of the lessons learnt at judo, hence the injury...
I am now considering practicising Tai-chi, as a way of regaining some flexibility...
And Todd, I think alongside the same line, what intrigued me most was the "spiritual aspect" as you put it.
I loved that, the feeling of mind and body really being one, that the mind emptied itself, not having to think first, just act...I also loved the rituals, the greeting to the sensei, to the public and to your opponent...
post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 
Don't they focus a good deal abouthow to fall in both Judo and Akido. I had a ski instructor who was into Akido, who would tell us to let "your body turn to water" if you fall. Come to think of it, some of the martial arts explanations as to how to fall sound similar to what the Vermont Ski safety says.
post #16 of 35
I taught Tang Soo Do for 8 years. During that time I saw many different students.

Primarily the ones that came in for a quick fix on solving their defensive problems or lack of physical fitness were disillusioned.

Our school dealt with the spiritual aspects of the "art" and rarely did sparring. The forms are wonderful for the movements and concentration. We did warm ups and warm downs.

During that time period, we had 2 students needing ACL work. They had prior weaknesses from other activities, and we worked out on a carpeted floor. We had no new ACL problems.

When looking into different schools and different styles, consider if they are "martial", "art", or both.

By the way, my son started to ski when he was 6, the same year he started karate. To teach him skiing movements and "feel" was easy when we compared it to karate moves. At 12, he earned his black belt. After that, when I show him any physical movements, he understands what his body can and can't do, and how to manipulate it.

So, is martial art good? Yes, if you are in it for the long haul. Knowing how to sense your environment, and how to move your body can transfer to so many other things. The "I can do it" feeling is great!
post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 
What's interesting is that my initial question regarded the physicality of martial arts, {bare feet working on mats} but most of you have focused on the mental elements.

And I think you are on to something!

I put this topic in Fitness and Health for Skiing, as a means of looking at what it is about MA that makes it good cross training for skiing. So, someone may not necessarily want to take a martial arts class, but what are the QUALITIES present in MA classes that are so compatible with skiing.

I can blabber on all day about transverse abdominal muscles, proprioception, pronation and balance, but if someone has not made the mind/body connection, these are just words.

It makes me believe even more that conditioning for skiing is not always about which piece of equipment is best, but rather, how well have you trained your body to sense and react to the environment.
post #18 of 35
Ah, Grasshopper, when you can.....

Lisamarie, all of us didn't miss your initial thought, we just understood your true question. One day you will understand.

Ummm, Ummm, Ummm, .......
post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 
Ah, Yes! I realize not one of you missed it.
But it was a nice case of giving the answer that was needed, as opposed to the answer that was wanted.

Thanks again, everyone. This is great so far! Can't wait for Joel to come back from Whistler to add to this!
post #20 of 35
Is Joel at the PSIA play week up at Whistler? I've got a few friends/co-workers up there right now.
post #21 of 35
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure, I think its just vacation. I know he teaches martial arts, because he had some great things to say in a thread in the off season sports forum about self defense classes. Not sure if he's a ski instructor.
post #22 of 35
Hi everyone. I wish the reason for my missing this post was skiing at Whistler. All my well laid ski plans this year have blown up in my face. So I've basically been moping for the last few days since getting the news that yet another(Whistler)((my last chance)) had gone south on me. I've finally been able to breathe out the anguish and frustration, so I'm back. Enough self pity.

I think that most real M.A.s, if practiced correctly and with the long haul in mind, will bring about a degree of awareness and strength that will be a form of injury prevention in itself. I think it has been stated well so far that the mental aspect is of prime importance in the ability to deal with things "in the moment" gracefully, while taking the least amount of damage to yourself in the process, whatever the occurance may be. I really do believe that the M.A.s are one of the best forums to develop the ability of not freezing up in tense/ dangerous situations and using the adrenaline/stress response to actually heighten your awareness and responses, as opposed to shutting them down. I guess what is really being discussed is developing the ability to be unfazed in the worst scenarios so you give yourself the best chance of surviving semi-intact.

I don't think that's all of it. I really think there is a great deal of crossover between skiing and martial arts as far as both helping each other in strength, agility, and mobility. The explosive linear sideways motion, the slow extention kicks, the repetitive low stances, as well as motionless stance work all adds up to a very solid lower chassis from which to issue power and strength. There is also a lot of one legged balancing and rooting of the center of mass by sinking your chi(oh, oh, I said the word) and relaxing the body weight. This tends to develope a good working awareness of your center and where your balance and recovery ability end. The muscles worked are largely the same areas that are needed in skiing. The one hand seems to play to the other quite well,in my mind.

Stretching, if done progressively, with health and functional movement as an objective, is vital to my bodies happiness and my ability to truly feel/sense/interpret my surroundings to the fullest. It is one of the few ways I can let go of the world for a while. It's natural meditation on your muscles. If done with a good mindset, it will speed the release of tension and stress. That said, there are a lot of overly ambitious, usually young male, students who are hell bent for the fastest way to be great, quote unquote, at whatever they choose to distract themselves with for the moment. If this mentality is applied to stretching, it can have grave consequences later in life as far as creating and KEEPING a body that can carry you through life with strength, fluidity, and ease. Your mind and ego, in the pursuit of its desires, can make you do things to yourself that are blatantly unhealthy and not in your body's longterm interest. Fine if you understand the consequences starting out, many don't. As an example, most people are not designed to do full Chinese splits, yet so many are willing to sacrifice hip sockets and the accompanying soft connectives to "look like the guys in the movies". Insanity! Do not think I do not use this stretch myself, I do, I just know the difference between healthy muscle release and partial dislocation of the hips and connective tissue.

In conclusion, the physical things mentioned above, if done as intended, will make a very strong knee joint, in my humble opinion. The mental things mentioned make you better at knowing when a potentially disasterous knee injury is likely and will also naturally put your body in as unhazardous a position as possible to minimize the severity of the upcoming event. Both, together, allow you to push yourself farther with less odds of catastrophe in the process. There, that's why I think M.A.s may help prevent ACL, or knee injuries in skiing.

I hope you all had a great year. Thanks to all of you who posted photos and stories that made me scream in envy, I really do appreciate it. Poop on all of you who got pissy and derailed threads. It does my mind good to see others at least getting the goods, even if I cannot. Keep it coming, 'cause it's almost all I had this year. I've already got plans for next year tho'.....


"All those who wander are not lost...."

"Champagne to your true friends and true pain to your sham friends."
post #23 of 35
Thread Starter 
Wow, Joel! You've created a connection between my Physiology of Fear and Anxiety thread and this one. Cool!

"I really do believe that the M.A.s are one of the best forums to develop the ability of not freezing up in tense/ dangerous situations and using the adrenaline/stress response to actually heighten your awareness and responses, as opposed to shutting them down. I guess what is really being discussed is developing the ability to be unfazed in the worst scenarios so you give yourself the best chance of surviving semi-intact."

ABSOLUTELY! In the other thread, you spoke about "letting your mind go silent". I really think that if you are in a situation where an injury could very well happen, the ability to clear the mind of all the extraneous garbage can be a life saver.

As far as the physical aspects are concerned, much has been spoken about the irony of participating in sports that are multi planar, involving directional changes, but conditioning for them with fitness activities that happen on only one plane.

The flexibility thing is interesting, and you speak of flexibility with "functional movement as an objective". This is an extremely important concept! The other crucial thing is to not allow flexibilty to be out of kilter with strength.

Back in college, I took one TaeKwonDo class at a Dojo, and one in college. At the time, I had a kinesiology professor who was way ahead of his time in his ideas. Since college martial arts classes are informal, to say the least, the kinesiology professor commented to the Karate instructor, that just because I was able to stretch into contorted positions, I did not have enough power and strength to balance that flexibilty, and therefore, that much stretching for Me, personally, was not functional.

But like everything else in skiing, fitness, martial arts, one size never fits all. Looking at what a specific individual's needs are is generally the best approach.
post #24 of 35
What about all these martial arts based aerobics programs? Are they worthwhile?
post #25 of 35
Thread Starter 
Patrick, do you know what group exercise program has the MOST injuries in the last 20 years? "Kickbox" aerobics!

Interesting, since these classes are non combat. but produce more injuries than true martial arts classes.

Although some kickbox aerobic instrtuctors may have very good safety skills, keep in mind, most of them have never in their life walked into any true martial arts schools!

Kickbox aerobics is done in shoes, on wooden floors. The routines are determined by the instructor, so there is no element of needing to react to the environment. For the most part, there is no mind/body element to these classes.

However, I hope its a "fad" that never dies. Fifty percent of the people who take my Pilates classes for post rehab have been injured in a kickbox aerobics class!
Tongue frimly in cheek, BTW!
post #26 of 35
"kickbox aerobics" are an abomination that should be teleported to another inaccessable dimension. Now that I've sort of tipped my hat as far as my feelings toward this activity, I will continue by saying that a huge percentage of the class leaders have 0% real knowledge of proper technique or a manner of practicing that has any remote resembalance healthy motion for your joints. The reason I have no place in my world for this often bogus means of making money is the fact that doing even simple punches on a heavy bag incorrectly, with improper technique, can and will lead to elbow/wrist/hand injuries and problems. If you do not have a good basic understanding and ability in the art of focusing and controling the extension of your legs, all the kicking in the air(a huge part of most kickbox aerobics workouts), is about as bad a thing to do to your knees as I can think of, almost(I can have a very dark side to my creative imagination).

There are two other aspects that are problematic for me. One is the very prevalent attitude of many exercisers that they are learning something that is based in martial reality and that they are becoming better able to defend themselves by participating in this activity. I have had so many young women( by far the biggest group of participants in this) come to the club, who, when asked if they've had any experiance in the martial arts, reply with a straight face and obvious sincerity, "Oh yes, I've studied kickboxing for ??? amount of time." Holy Cow Batman!! They haven't been told by anyone that what they are doing has nothing to do with kickboxing and is simply an aerobics class with bad, bad, copies of real martial arts techniques. The few that stick around a while after finding that what they've learned how to do is injure their joints in the process of learning terrible technique and a plethora of bad habits, spend most of their time attempting to unlearn incorrect muscle memory patterns and finding out how to properly move with precision and control instead of that incessant, predictable, and functionless(in the way they are doing it) bouncing. The second aspect is the amount of money being taken out of sincere, genuine instructors pockets by fly-by-night bullsh1tters using the current lack of knowledge in this area to promote a program with nothing to offer except a fat paycheck to whoevers running the scam. I'm not really talking about Billy B., he's a talented fighter. I've also heard through the grapevine that he had a hip replacement,hope that's not true, but you wonder why if it is. I do think his tape concept is suspect tho', just my opinion. It is also decreasing great numbers of young athletic women and men from the opportunity to discover an activity that could, if given their time and determination, become a solid cornerstone in their life and their interactions with others. That saddens me, as well as angers.

A number of smaller schools in the area have gone under or have tried to make a real martial arts aerobics class to at least get people doing real techniques in this format, as well as financially survive. Most find the real problem to be in what is wanted by the public-no desire to learn, just want to mindlessly bounce to an hour of house or techno while they do whatever they happen to be lead by the nose to do. Frustrating to see. Horse to water, ya know?

Goodness, I appear to have cranked out a rant! I'll stop now cause you probably get the drift of my leanings on this subject.

post #27 of 35
Thread Starter 
Just found this on a sportsmed site:

Judo, better than dance, develops sensorimotor adaptabilities involved
in balance control

Philippe Perrin et al.
Gait & Posture (2002) April 15(2):187-194


Objectives: Training allows sportsmen to acquire new balance control
abilities, possibly differing according to the discipline practised. We
compared, by means of static and dynamic posturographic tests, the
postural skills of high-level judoists, professional dancers and
controls, in order to determine whether these sports improved postural
control. Results: With eyes open, judoists and dancers performed better
than controls, indicating a positive effect of training on sensorimotor
adaptabilities. Yet, with eyes closed, only judoists retained a
significantly better stance. Conclusions: These data indicate that the
practice of a high-skill activity involving proprioceptive afferences
especially improves both performance and balance control.


In this study, comparing the balance control of highly skilled judoists,
dancers and controls, we show that only judoists were able to maintain a
better balance control than controls in all circumstances, i.e., with or
without sensory deprivation (eyes closure) or external perturbation
(movement of the support). The good results of these sportsmen both in
static and dynamic tests confirm the hypothesis formulated in several
studies of a redistribution of postural control processing developed by
Judo practice [3, 4 and 15].

Given the absence of differences between sexes in balance regulation in
our young control population, we hypothesised that the differences
observed between the three groups tested were not related to sex but to
sport practice. This hypothesis of absence of sex-effect is sustained by
the part of the data of Kollegger et al. [28] concerning the same range
of age (21¯35 years) as ours. Ekdalh et al. [29] evidenced better
standing balance in women than in men, but within a population including
older subjects (20¯64 years old) than our sample. These results suggest
the importance of relating the test-data not only to sex but also to age.

The use of a particular sensorimotor strategy, implied in the regulation
of static and dynamic balance, would depend on the choice of sensory
cues (visual, vestibular or proprioceptive) privileged to detect
divergences between the posture planned and that really adopted. This
choice is influenced by prior experiences [30 and 31].
Our results also confirm that Judo or Ballet dancing learning and
training, respectively practised barefooted or with special Ballet
shoes, tend to improve orthostatic balance control in EO condition. In
both cases, the foot constitutes a full organ of balance control in a
context involving both external information (position relative to the
ground) and internal constraints (sense of position) [32 and 33]. As
suggested by Bessou et al. [34] and Kavounoudias et al. [35],
superficial plantar mechanoreceptors provide the CNS with information
relative to the position of the body with respect to the vertical
reference [35], which relies on gravitationalforces, reaction forces
from the supporting surface and shear forces. This postural regulative
function of the plantar sole therefore allows sportsmen to perform
better than controls in EO condition, suggesting that proprioception
plays a major role in maintaining a stable upright stance [3, 9, 15 and
36]. With eyes closed, dancers display the worst balance control. This
could be due to the fact that training in Classical Ballet develops
specific modalities of balance, which are not transferable to posture
control in our test situations [1].

Our results are in accordance with those of Golomer et al. [12]
indicating that ballet dancers were more dependent than acrobats on
visual inputs for the regulation of postural control but differing from
those indicating that they were less dependent than untrained subjects,
both for females [12] and for males [17]. Dance training strengthens the
accuracy of proprioceptive inputs, in a lower way than in judo and
acrobatics, but shifts with difficulty sensorimotor dominance from
vision to proprioception, according to our results. Dancers do not
efficiently compensate visual suppression, because this input is not
used in their practice to solve the task, but to take landmarks [37].
The direction of the gaze is important for artistic expression and also
to perceive the surrounding. In dance, during high-speed rotations, body
rotations are regular while those of the head occur in fits and starts,
with short periods of fixation on an environmental target at each turn.
Moreover, gaze fixation allows to avoid post rotatory nystagmus [38 and

In this study, the combination of closed eyes and a moving support in
dynamic tests are two new situations unusual in Dance. The vestibular
capacities to decode new somesthetic solicititation would appear not to
efficiently compensate the simple loss of visual cues, which is
consistent with data from Pailhous and Bonnard [40]. By contrast, the
good performance of judoists in all experimental conditions, suggests a
low reliance on visual inputs for balance control in this discipline.
Similar results were obtained by Hain et al. [14] in Tai Chi.

The difference of balance modalities involved in Judo and Dance likely
relies on the very different training and practice of these two sports.
Dancers train for long hours in a very stable environment (in front of a
mirror, holding a ramp), then perform freely but in an unmoving space
(either in the training room or on stage). They voluntarily generate
their own imbalance during their complex chained dynamic choreographic
figures. Conversely, both in training and in competition, judoists are
constantly subjected to unexpected movements imposed by their opponent
in order to make them fall on soft ground (tatami). Therefore, the good
performances of judoists in unusual situations, could be due to the fact
that training in martial arts develops sensorimotor adaptabilities
transferable to posture control in other circumstances. In Judo
practice, the CNS acts to control the position of the body's centre of
gravity relative to the feet and organises postural patterns in this
balance task as a function of available sensory information and
biomechanical constraints [41, 42 and 43].

In fact, the improvement of postural control concurrent to Judo training
appears to be the consequence of a better mastery of the common postural
strategies available in the controls'repertoire and especially those
based on somatosensory inputs [2, 9, 19 and 44]. Blind subjects can also
reach a high level of practice in judo.

In controls, balance control may rather depend on a multisensory
evaluation of imbalance, without a clear prevalence of any sensory input
[2 and 45].

Finally, the hypothesis must be raised that the subjects we tested
practised Judo or Classical Ballet because of their innate sensory
abilities, and that we did not really measure the influence of their
sport's training and practice. Predisposition can effectively facilitate
learning, but in the judoist or in the dancer group, we cannot affirm
that there are no individuals predisposed to the first or to the latter
practice and in the same way that in the control group, there are no
individuals predisposed to one of both sports.

In conclusion, our results confirm that high-level sportsmen display
improved balance control in relation with the requirements of each
discipline. Because the visual afference is a major input used by Ballet
dancers to achieve a better balance regulation, they are likely to fare
less well than controls in daily life situations where this afferent is
missing. Conversely, Judo training leads to the best performances in
terms of maintaining a stable stance in all circumstances as the result
of privileging somatosensory afferences as an essential component of
balance control, abilities likely to have a positive bearing in current
activities. The balance strategies and techniques learned by high-level
judoists should be carefully analysed to determine if they could be
incorporated into treatment programs for injured subjects or non
sportsmen with balance instability.


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post #28 of 35

When I trained in my art blindfolded, it was to increase my awareness of what was around me. Could I do a complete kata correctly and return to the starting position? Could I do a kata and "fight" an opponent without changing my muscular tension and speed?

Some days were better than others, but it was always fun.

Does this mean I am a better skier? I do think I can ski and "know" who is approaching. I do think I can ski and comfortably look around and watch others while maintaining my own good skiing.

I'll have to share this article with my Master. Thanks LM.
post #29 of 35
Thread Starter 
Probably means you can ski through a white out!
post #30 of 35
KeeTov: I'm sure you have pulled this one on you new students. Just as they have "mastered" a kata, turn them around and have them start it facing in a different direction. Most of them rely on fixed visual objects and fall apart pretty quickly.
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