Aikido Fitness


Improved fitness and health are two of the most common reasons for a new student taking up the martial arts.

While Aikido practice is great for your health, it is not enough by itself.

The best evidence of that are the very skilled Aikido and other martial arts teachers that are overweight and in less than ideal physical condition. Stan Pranin commented on that in one of his essays in Aikido Journal.

This page has resources for exercise that will improve your overall fitness and health and increase your Aikido performance.





Sport specific exercises for Aikido

 Build powerful legs and hips

It is often said that in Aikido and the martial arts, power is generated in with the legs and hips.

Nothing builds powerful legs better than the squat, deadlift (see Brooks Kubik's books), or Olympic weightlifting (below).

These exercises are great for your body if done properly, but with each of these lifts proper technique is critical to avoid injury and to maximize performance.

For example, in the squat if you extend your knees beyond your toes you will eventually injure your knees. Guaranteed.

Practice the tutorials below and you will be ahead of 90% of the people at the commercial gyms. Then you can give them some pointers.


Squat tutorial. Dan John
The best squat tutorial. The video is 50" long. Follow along with the instructions and you'll learn to squat properly.


Deadlift tutorials on Crossfit
Under Power Lifts heading


Another good way to strengthen your hips is through shikko (samurai 'knee walking') and suwari-waza ('seated techniques').

An advantage of shikko is that it can often be practiced even when your knees are not healthy enough to do squats or other conventional leg exercises.

Consider shikko intervals for conditioning.





Grip strength

Grip strength can either be a martial artist's secret weapon or weak link.

There are a lot of ways to increase grip strength. One way is when you grab your partners wrist in Aikido practice, grab strong.

Saito Sensei said that building a strong grip is one of the purposes of Kokyu-ho practice. All the deshi in Iwama had forearms like Popeye.

Patrick Cassidy had me practice squeezing a block of wood (2 1/2" x 1 1/2" x ) as hard as I could and I made some progress doing that.



Coach Adam Steer demonstrates the clubbell 'swipe'—one of many clubbell exercises.

Clubbells develops hip drive and shoulder and grip strength.

What may be less obvious is how clubbell movements require that you blend with the dynamic force of the weight, exactly like the principle of aiki—blending with the force of your attacker.

10lb clubbells

15lb clubbells 





Yoga for athletes

Prasara Yoga

Prasara is the yoga of flow.

Martial art training including Aikido can tend to break your body down. Yoga practice builds your body back up.

Along with the traditional yoga benefits of re-aligning your body, Prasara Yoga helps you develop/regain the ability to move easily and freely in any direction.

That makes Prasara is especially well suited for martial artists and athletes.





Strength Training 


The Training Habit
by Brooks Kubik

"To be successful your training must be a HABIT. It must be something you do on a regularly scheduled basis—like clockwork—come heck or high water."

7 steps to building the training habit, including a super-simple, super-effective workout you can do at home or at the gym, 3 days a week.


aikido fitness brooks 

Copyright Brooks D. Kubik — used with permission.


The Training Habit - Part 2
by Brooks Kubik

"The idea is to get back into the HABIT of training—not to take super hard and demanding workouts. You’ll start training harder later on—but for right now, your job is to get back into the training habit. So keep your workouts short, fast and easy."



Olympic Weightlifting
Dan John

Another great teacher. Dan competed in the discus for Utah State University, and was the Strength Coach and Head Track and Field Coach at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper, Utah.

His specialties are Olympic weightlifting and the discuss/track and field throwing events. 

Power in athletics is defined as force x acceleration. Olympic weightlifting builds more physical power than any other form of exercise.

Olympic weightlifters have also been tested to be some of the most agile athletes in any Olympic sport, second only to gymnasts!

If you're young and have good knees and want to build some power, Olympic weightlifting is a great form of exercise.

Never Let Go - book

Olympic Lifting for Beginners - DVD





Bodyweight exercise


Convict Conditioning 
by Paul Wade

"How to Bust Free of All Weakness Using the Lost
 Secrets of Supreme Survival Strength" (book - 304 pages)

Focuses on 6 'ultimate' bodyweight exercises including 1-arm pull-ups and hand-stand push-up's. 

The important thing is the author gives you do-able progressions to achieve them.

"Many talk about "mastering your body weight" yet Convict Conditioning actually delivers a blueprint for anyone, regardless of your current fitness. . . .

"This program will give me the tendon strength to blast past my previous body weight abilities and real usable strength and speed for hand-to-hand training!"

—Tim Larkin, Master Close Combat Instructor, Target Focus Training







Aikido Conditioning

Interval training—the real aerobics. Intervals are short periods of high intensity exercise, alternated with periods of recovery. Benefits include cardio-vascular conditioning, production of new capillaries, increased oxygen delivery ability, improved performance, and weight loss.

Exercises, workouts, interval timers, and recommended reading.






Recommended Products


The best warm-up


Intu-Flow is a systematic, Aikido type warm-up for every joint of your body.

Whether you are training in Aikido or weight lifting, a thorough warm-up is critical to prevent injury and to perform at your best.

In addition to injury prevention, a powerful benefit of this type of thorough warm-up is the release of synovial fluid.

Synovial fluid both lubricates and nourishes each joint in your body, and is stimulated by movement.

The program takes about 14 minutes to complete.

There are 4 levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Master. You get the full joint-health benefits right from day 1.

As you advance you gain increasing levels of coordination, balance, and the ability to relax.




Joint Support

1. Read  Dr. Barry Sears: The Anti-Inflammation Zone.

2. Eat right.

3. Supplement with  fish oil. This fish oil from Carlson Laboratories is not only inexpensive, it has no fish taste.

These simple steps will reduce inflammation, improve the health of your joints, and your overall health.

HA Joint Formula Free Bottle Offer   Hyaluronic acid can help your body re-grow the cartilage cushion between joints. Smarter than masking knee pain with ibuprofen.





Related Pages

Aikido conditioning

Brooks Kubik—The Training Habit

Fitness - Aikido-Utah blog 




Aikido Fitness Links 
Dan John_Never Let Go  
Dan John olympic weightlifting dvd 

Convict Conditioning - Paul Wade 


Dragon Door