About The Following Blog

The following blog has been written purely for those wanting a first hand knowledge of what it is like to step into the dojo for the first time as a complete beginner as a Martial Artist. Through practising a Martial Art, you will gain many things such as self-confidence, self-respect and life-long and good friends. I hope this helps you to see into an amazing world of which you have never seen before and that I have had the privilege of belonging to and knowing.
Although I have not put my name or any name to this blog, it does deserve a dedication- a dedication to those who help people to train, who teach, reassure and most important of all- those who never give up, no matter how many times they hit the ground or a mental brick wall, with themselves or others. But above all- those who are ready to begin their own journey, it begins with one step….

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Chapter 56: In which the fighting spirit is renewed...

A strange title for a blog post it seems, but here goes.

The last few months have been quite full of both good and sad news in a way. The good news is that I'm now married but the sad news is shortly after I returned from honeymoon, I learned that our Sensi had passed away following a short illness. As you can imagine, this was a difficult time for us all.

We all however, grasped our 'fighting spirit' and decided we all wanted to continue and so have joined a neighbouring aikido club. I'm happy to say we've now settled in and enjoying our new training regime.

The post title of 'fighting spirit' stems from the fact that we as a club could have packed our Gis away and called it a day but none of us felt that Sensi would have pleased with that idea! We've carried on, despite quaking at the knees of the idea of joining another club at first.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Chapter 55: Being a good Tanto player- Is it something that is innate inside or can be taught?

This is something I've being wondering about since taking part in my first competition about two years ago. Watching the good tanto players, (the ones who win the gold) it seems that a small part of the battle of being good at tanto is having a good 'fighting' attitude.

The difficulty I find with Randori is what to do once you have hold. I seem to have the idea of breaking balance, and doing technique but seem to lose it a little after that. Whereas others, seem to just have the 'knack' of knowing what works immediately.

I came to think about this after a recent session where I was working with a lower grade who was new to tanto practice, especially full-blown Randori. My first thought was ' do you teach this? Can you teach this? Do you start with tanto avoidence, then technique with no resistance, gradually bluiding up to the point of light Hikkitat? Or do you just let the Aikkidocca do what comes naturally when they first encounter a tanto coming towards them?

I think its a bit of both, you need a good teacher, someone who knows what works but equally I think that you also need a bit of 'fighting' instinct. There is many different ways in which Aikido can both be taught and learned, so for the moment with this in mind, I think I will try to muddle through the best way I can, finding out what works for me.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Chapter 54: Do people really understand the way Martial Arts touch us?

A slightly strange blog title I'll admit, and not necessarily about Aikido but here goes....

Have you ever had anyone ask you what your hobbies are and you tell them that you do Aikido, Jodo, Karate etc only to be met either with a sarcastic comment or strange look, as if to say why would you want to do that? And they also give you a strange look if on a Friday night no one understands (apart from your club mates) why you would rather go hit the mats rather than the pub. I have, many a time but I think this is perhaps due to the fact that I don't exactly fit the stereotype of that everyone who does martial arts is hard-faced and ruthless.

So why do people have these conceptions? I always try and explain what Aikido is, what martial arts truly signify and how people can develop from studying them. But people still think that you're a nutter. Well, okay I don't suppose it helps that my arms are usually (but not always) black and blue and my shoulders and arms are covered in Gi and mat burns.

I think part of the problem is that people want to be good immediately and get their black belts within a year or two. But what they don't realise is that it takes many years to become good and to become good enough for a Dan grade you need to literally have experienced blood, toil, tears and sweat for it to be worthwhile? I've had many a work colleague say to me that they would like to try a martial art but wouldn't be able to take orders from a Sensi or higher grade. Again, this is a case of people getting the complete wrong end of the stick. All learning on (and sometimes off the mat) is entirely voluntary, you and you alone want to learn, to better yourself. I don't know of anywhere else in life this happens. But when it does happen, you can develop a very deep and beautiful bond between you, your fellow students and your Sempai. And its very satisfying. Much more so than sitting with a bottle of wine and chocolate bar on the sofa on a Friday night. Yes, give me training over that any day.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Chapter 53: New Year, New Job, New Dojo...Don't make life easy for myself do I?

Yes thats right, New year, New Job, New Dojo. I recently changed jobs to specialise further in my field (the other side of the country to be exact), so naturally I needed to keep up with the Aikido- especially if I want to get to brown.

However, there was just one problem- there is no Tomiki Aikido club where I am but there are Shodokan clubs. So do I quit Aikido having got so far or do I change styles? From this entry's title-yup you're right, I've decided to change styles. I'm not completely new to Shodokan Aikido by the way- there were a few club members at my last club that were interested in it, so I did practice in Shodokan style sometimes.

But there's no denying it-it is slightly different and its hard to remember what style does what. But on a brighter side, I think we may have got to the bottom of the roll 'problem' and hopefully this can be resolved soon.

So, how did it feel to change styles? To be honest, a little 'traitor' like since 99.9% of my training thus far has been Tomiki. But I really don't believe I've turned my back on my original training completely. After all, the basics of all Aikido styles are virtually the same since the principle of Aikido underlying them are the same. And yes, I do miss my old clubs. One folded just before I moved so it made saying goodbye a little easier.

Over the past four years I have trained with a variety of different people, both male and female from all walks of life and each with their own Aikido. One of the great things I love Aikido is the way it draws people together. You find that the people you train with do not become friends exactly, but they don't remain complete strangers- you form a 'bond' if you will, and each clubmate leaves their mark on you. Which is why I say its not completely goodbye when you leave a club or it folds- you leave part of yourself and you take the spirit of the club with you.