Earlier this week when I was leading an aikido class, I started to feel pain on my elbow without any apparent cause. The pain continued and when I started thinking what could cause it, I remembered that during the previous day one shihonage had felt uncomfortable and I think that just manifested the day after. The injury occurred when I had been in the front of the class, being the punching bag for shihonage. I kept taking high ukemis instead of ushiro ukemis because the class lead had a confidant throw and I suppose I wanted to show off a bit too. Silly when you think about it, taking high ukemis when you don’t have to, but it feels good to slam on the tatami and it does release the lock on your elbow immediately.
The actual injury came about later on when I asked the class lead about something his taisabaki during the initial entry, and he showed to me. I think I was concentrating on the answer too much, as when he threw me again, I didn’t take a high fall, but rather an ushiro ukemi but had my had in the same position as in high falls. That is, a tad too far from my shoulder. That allowed the nage to execute the throw, but because of the distance my body didn’t have enough time react. The twist on my elbow was not at all bad, it just felt a bit uncomfortable and didn’t notice it at all until the next day when. The exact pain point is in the medial head of the triceps brachii, or at least that’s what I think. I don’t remember pulling a muscle like this before in shihonage, but I’m quite sure I have as this feels like something that would happen every once in a while. A harmless pull that you forget the next day.
During my 10 year aikido study, I’ve sustained two injuries that have forced for me to take a 4-6 month break, both to my knees. The first time, about the time when I had 3rd kyu, I tore my meniscus on the outside of my right knee. The details have started to escape me, but I think I tried to take a high fall from a kotegaeshi and got up with the momentum of the throw with my sideways. So it was actually the getting up that tore it, not the landing. The knee had to be operated on and I had to recover for half a year. However, now the knee is totally symptomless so it was a break worth taking.
The second time I had to take a break as just a severe pull on the tendons on the outside of my left knee. I healed on its own, but it did take some time to be pain free. That one was a shihonage with a high fall. I didn’t expect it at all and I did the worst thing you can do during an aerial exercise: I stiffened my body. That caused me to land with my foot touching the tatami first, not my side with the free hand making the initial contact. I don’t know if that mistake taught me anything directly, but it at least gave me first hand knowledge that when taking high falls you need to make like a wet dishcloth. Because you don’t always know in advance that nage is going to throw you high, I think the skill is in being able to switch from a steel spring (attack) to a wet rag (receive) without thinking. Is that then a part of trying to attain mushin no shin?