Physical Training Mar 2000

Stretching with a Stick: a different use for an Aikido jo

By Kim Taylor

Copyright Kim Taylor 2001. All rights reserved.

to read Belorussian translation

Any martial art that uses a stick provides its students with a ready-made stretching aid. With a little experimentation one can work out many different ways to stretch. Here are a few exercises that were developed at the University of Guelph Aikido Club over the years. Use them as a guide to what can be done and feel free to develop your own set. I'll mention some of the specific Aikido techniques these stretches prepare you for as we describe them.

Dynamic stretches for the hips.

These are generalized exercises that help free up the hip girdle and allow you to move correctly.

Grip the stick at the ends and swing from side to side. Use one end of the stick to push your other arm further into the stretch as you twist.

fig1a fig 1b fig 1c

Begin with the stick overhead, then bend to each side to stretch the arms and the side of the torso.

fig 2

Start with the stick overhead, then bend forward to touch the floor, stretching the back, and up again to stretch the front of the torso.

fig 3a fig 3b

Place the stick behind your back and grip it with your palms facing forward. Twist your hips and let the stick rock your arm back and around.

fig 4a fig 4b

Stretches for the shoulders and wrists

Grip the stick with the palms facing backward, raise it over your head and then drop it back behind yourself. Keep the arms straight to get a good stretch in the shoulders. These exercises help protect your muscles and joints from the various locks that work through the shoulder.

fig 5a fig 5b

Place the stick behind your back and reverse your grip so that the palms now face the front, bring the stick up over your head to the front. This twists the wrists and gives a good stretch to the forearm as well as the shoulders. For even more stretch in the wrist, lift the arms upward. This puts your forearm into the nikyo (nikajo) position. The stretch is also very good for tennis elbow.

fig 6a fig 6b fig 6c

This is the same stretch but done on the wrist only. Begin with the stick held in the middle, palm down. Reach across with your other hand and grab the end. Now move that end across your body to twist the wrist.

fig 7a fig 7b fig 7c

Pass the stick behind with one hand, then reach up behind with the other hand and pull the stick down, stretching the triceps. This stretch helps prepare for techniques such as shihogiri.

fig 8

Here is a multipart stretch that develops from the previous exercise. Pass the lower hand around the stick and move your upper hand to the opposite shoulder. Pull forward to stretch the front part of the shoulder. This is an excellent stretch to prepare for an ikkyo (ikajo) pin and similar techniques.

In the second part of the exercise lower your arm and pass it in front of your body, then lean to the side stretching the whole side of your body from elbow to knee.

fig 9a fig 9b fig 9c

Swinging stretches

These are dynamic stretches that use the momentum of the jo to stretch the muscles. The first is to do figure 8 motions gripping the centre of the jo, circle the jo on either side of the body letting the movements stretch and strengthen the wrists.

fig 10a fig 10b fig 10c fig 10d

By gripping with the thumb closer to one end of the stick you can increase the momentum of the stick which gives you a stronger stretch.

fig 11

Finally, you can warm up the fingers themselves by twirling the stick through them from one to another.

fig 12a fig 12b

There you have a quick series of stick stretches which will ready the torso and arms for whatever practice you wish to do. Have fun and see how many variations you can come up with.

Physical Training Mar 2000