Training for POUSes (persons of unusual size)

Discussion in 'Aikido' started by AngryHobbit, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    Note: The bulk of my training lies in Nihon Goshin Aikido, brought by Sensei Richard Bowe to America after training under Shoto Morita in Japan.

    Unlike Princess Bride's ROUSes (Rodents of Unusual Size), who are unusually large, persons of unusual size run the full gamut: unusually tall, unusually short, unusually squat, long-legged, broad-shouldered, short-armed, or big-footed. Unique traits of one's anatomy are bound to impact one's training. It's damned inconvenient but true.

    While it is recommended to work with partners close to one's own height early in the training, moving on to training partners of drastically different shape and size is definitely advisable. Working with shorter partners keeps taller students from becoming complacent. Naturally longer step and reach are great advantages, of course, but, I would imagine, a taller person is bound to get a surprise when a short little pipsqueak like me manages to get into the up-close-and-personal range, making things very cramped and awkward. On the other hand, those of us who are shorter, must overcome the instinctive desire to stay as far away from the opponent as possible, which is perfectly terrifying. Once in close proximity, however, it is very handy to have access to the whole area from the soft underbelly to shins and ankles.

    One thing students of all sizes should get good at before training with various heights is - falls and rolls. Throwing and being thrown by a person of a dramatically different height and physique can be startling. Prepare to bounce. For a tall person being thrown by someone substantially shorter in variations of shoulder and hip throws, the ground comes up startlingly quick. There is very little time to turn a flop onto the back or a face plant into a hard but safer side fall. A shorter person being thrown by one of the giants has other challenges to deal with. The fall lasts so long, you almost consider ringing for a flight attendant to request a beverage and in-flight movie. Of course, that entire time, you are gaining momentum.

    I found it helpful to make training across heights and weights purposeful, by seeking out fellow students who were very different from me physically (especially those I was really scared of because they were so much taller, bigger, and faster than me) and asking them to partner with me.

    Any other thoughts and tips on training for those outside of average height, weight, and shape range?
     
  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    There is a lot of being able to manage your training partner. So for example weight and pressure may not be as effective on really small guys because you just cripple them which is not cool.
     
  3. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    There is that. Or adjusting where you strike. I was kneed in the groin once by someone who was prepared to stop, like we normally do - 2" from the target, except he forgot to adjust for my much smaller height and planted the knee right in. I spent the next two days walking around wrapped in ice packs.
     
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  4. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    I think it's important to train and spar with as wide a variety of body types and sizes as possible in order to learn to adapt as necessary. It can also be interesting as an instructor to figure out the technical adjustments necessary when teaching a POUS.

    Do you train with @gpseymour ?
     
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  5. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    Yes, he is my instructor, training partner, and husband. :)
     
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  6. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Oh, that guy. Lord have mercy on you, sister.

    You know, your training partner really needs to take you on a Hawaiian vacation.
     
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  7. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    It is a very important point that doesn't get aired out much. The Japanese call it maai, which roughly translates to interval, but I know it better as 'distance and timing'. When learning movements or techniques, it is always best to work with someone your size as you'll both have the same maai which means a person can focus solely on the technique. Once a technique is learned, it is better to work with someone of a different size in order to better ingrain the adjustments needed to compensate for the different maai. The distance and timing to begin any given technique, as well as the mechanics depending upon the technique in question, would be quite a bit different between the almost six foot me and someone of genuine samurai size such as yourself.
     
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  8. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    So I've been told. You can make us a traditional Hawaiian meal - and I could make you a traditional Ukrainian one.
     
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    Entirely agree. One of my cues to myself (as an instructor) that I'm not exploring enough is when I can't advise the right adjustments to a technique for working with someone taller, shorter, lighter, heavier, stronger, looser, tenser, or whatnot. I learned those adjustments by working with different people, experimenting with what made techniques both more available and more reliable. Much of that also fed into my preferences for certain techniques, and seeing others as less useful.
     
  10. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree completely. We intentionally pair students up with disparate sizes and/or skill levels. It's vital, if you're training for self defense.
    One of our students is a girl who stands about 4' 10", maybe 4' 11". I've matched her against a guy who is 6' 6" and is a linebacker for his university team.
    Yes, that big a size difference WILL affect the outcome. But she's by no means helpless. And she's done a good job of learning how to try to negate his size advantage. Hopefully, that practice will serve her well in the real world. Let's face it. She's 17. She's never going to be much (if any) taller than she is right now.
    And on the flip side, it's a challenge to a guy his size, too. A big part of his strategy (as with most people that size...) is to control the distance. It can be a real struggle when someone tiny uses their speed to get inside his reach.
     
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  11. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    Very true. Working with a drastically different partner is also a great reminder - there is no martial arts panacea. There is no one magical technique that works 100% against everyone, every time. The more you work with different people, the more you realize, certain techniques are rubbish on a much taller person, certain will not work in a million years on someone significantly shorter. Oh, it would be so nice and comforting to stay within the safe boundaries of what one of my instructors called one's "pocket techniques". But that is not a realistic expectations. We all have techniques we dislike - but we have to live with the fact the ones we love won't work on whom we are up against on a given day.
     
  12. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Back in my days in L.A, I worked out with Emanuel Lewis, Shaq and Brad Wright on the same day several times. Manny is 4'3", Shaq and Brad are a shade over and under seven feet. Few hundred pound difference as well.

    Sometimes techniques are not interchangeable. Principles seem to run true, though.
     
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  13. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    Seymour didn't lie - you DO know everyone. :) I actually met Shaq once - when working a project in San Antonio, TX. A lovely guy, one of the nicest people I've ever met. I have a theory about Shaq and me. When the world was created, and people's inner Hulks were being distributed, someone messed up and gave Shaq my Hulk and gave me Shaq's Hulk. So, that's why Shaq is such a nice guy - he has a tiny 5-foot Hulk, who has all the room in the world and is very comfortable. And that is why I am such an angry chipmunk - my Hulk is seven feet tall, living in very cramped conditions. :)
     
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  14. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Shaq really is a nice guy, pretty funny, too. And Shaq never worked out in his life until the summer before he played for the Lakers. Never worked out. At all. That's right from the horses mouth. Then he started training with Billy Blanks, not in Martial Arts, but in fitness. Shaq was scared to death of Billy, not because Billy gave him any reason to, just because.

    He was fun to work out with, until we would do that wall stretch where one guy stands against the wall and his partner lifts his leg increasingly higher while the man against the wall forces his leg down to increase strength in a stretched position. Billy would always pair me up with Shaq - presumably to watch me die lifting those huge fricken legs. Heck, one of them weighed as much as me. I used to so curse under my breath.

    We would have dinner at Billy's house a few days a week for a time. Had loads of fun. And Billy let him eat all he wanted '"Gonna' work it off tomorrow anyway, have a ball." Of course the more he ate, the more he worked the next day. He finally caught on.

    I have some pics of Shaq, Manny and I working out together, but they're in a box somewhere, you know how that goes.

    This is Manny at Billy's wedding, we were ushers together. Along with a zillion of his brothers.

    MannyDance.JPG


    And in keeping with this thread title, this is Bob and Tiny. They were Larry Holmes' bodyguards. [And pictured is a hoodlum who shall not be named] Great fun to party with,old Bob and Tiny, but a nightmare to work out with. I always felt like a ping pong ball. And holds that I was good at, pfffft against those guys. Tiny, the taller of the two, could throw me, or anyone else, across a room like a sack of bread.
    Sure made life interesting.

    MannyDance.JPG BobTinyHood.JPG
     
  15. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    I was going to reply that he has the photo evidence to prove most of them too...then saw his post.
     
  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    And stories we wouldn't believe, except he has too many of them, and too many pictures to back them up. Nobody has that life. Except, apparently, somebody does, and he hangs out on martial arts forums with actual people. Whoda thunk?
     
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  17. AngryHobbit

    AngryHobbit Yellow Belt

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    OMG, I could NEVER do the leg stretch exercise with someone that tall and heavy. That would be like trying to lift myself. Horizontally.
     

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