The First Week



Hi! My name is Byron, I started Aikido in August 2014 and I used to train 4-5 Days a Week if I could but unfortunately in May 2015 I had to relocate for work and getting to the Dojo without taking Holiday became an impossibility. I attended Weekend Seminars if I could and even took time out of work to train but it just wasn’t enough for me.

I really missed my training. I missed the energy I feel during classes and the way my body benefited from the warm up, Kihon Dosa and continued practice of varied techniques. There was the social element as well, we’ve all been out for dinner or gone walking and camping. The Dojo is like a community to me and, whilst we’re all concentrating on our own personal journey, help is always on hand from Sensei Mick, Sensei Jayne and the Senior Students.

After discussion during my August 2016 break with Sensei Mick I decided that I’d like to attend the Dojo again as an Uchi-Deshi. It was a very difficult decision, I’ve been married for a year now and it’s not easy to have the discussion about living apart 5 Days a Week and slashing your work hours/income in half.

There is a different mentality from the training I was used to and Sensei Mick and Sensei Jayne have been quick to indicate my bad habits and show me how to correct these mistakes; extending in Kamae and thinking tall, using the outer muscles in my legs to push out during Kamae, keeping my fingers fully extended but relaxing my arms, pulling my shoulders back but relaxing them down, forcing my pelvis down in stance. These are just a handful of items pointed out to me but every time I come into stance I focus into improving by using what I’ve been told.

The classes are harder than before but so much more rewarding. I’m working as hard as I can, coming in as long and low as I can without falling over, sitting in seiza despite the burning sensation in my knees and ankles that screams at me to sit cross legged or stand up and running to position as quick as I can. Even the way I sound Osu has changed and no matter what the circumstances are it should always sound strong, from the centre and affirmative.

I’m working towards taking my 3rd Kyu for the February 2017 Grading and have been working on; shomen uchi ikkajo osae (2), shomen uchi nikago osae (2), shomen iriminage osae (2) & ryote mochi tenchi nage (1)

Week Two!

So this week was hard work, I’m pushing myself hard both mentally and physically. I’ve hit the wall on occasions which can drive me and anyone teaching me crazy as all form and structure falls apart. Sometimes I come away from class shaking from exertion and I always come away drenched in sweat. My leg muscles, especially in my knees, burn. So what I’m trying to achieve is a relaxed sensation which will allow me to hold my form and move through techniques with more ease. I feel so much tension in my body. I’m unsure if that’s from the desire to do my best or that nervous sensation that comes from fear of failure. I don’t feel negative about these issues, I think it’s important to recognise them so I can find ways to overcome them.

Fitness is one major theme that affects my training. I got so sloppy in my sedentary lifestyle after leaving Preston that I have no core strength. Sensei has me doing back drops every class to rebuild those neglected muscles and I have other exercises which I’ve been doing in the mornings before work and then again before my 2:00/2.30pm Classes in the week. They consist of:

Sit Ups
Press Ups
Dorsal Raises
Tricep Dips

I also practice kokyu ho without a partner to get the “Push your knees forward-Cut-Slide” which is needed to finish the technique. Mine is always out of time and again I lose all structure so the slide is impossible and turns into a kneeling stagger. As for getting the feeling of pushing my knees forward, I sit on the mats in seiza with my toes tucked under my backside and use them to push my body forwards then draw myself back with my posture straight and tall. I take the time to practice the kihon dosa as this is really helping me strengthen muscles needed for techniques and allows me to build a strong form.

Now on to my favourite part, the classes are awesome and I love the sensation during and after them. Yes they’re hard, I never expected them to be easy. Sensei pushes me and although I don’t always get it right I’m forever digging deep to push myself that extra bit harder. I need to work on my intensity and connection with my partner during training to keep that harmony throughout the entirety of the exercise. This week in the 2:00/2:30pm Classes we’ve been through; suwari waza kokyu ho, shomen uchi iriminage (1), kata mochi sokumen iriminage (1) & kite waza

A big thanks goes out to the students who have come in so far to help me with my training, it’s great to have the energy in the class!

Week 3

A more positive spin for this week; I feel great! It’s actually hard to find the words to describe the effect that training is having on me mentally. Without going into things too deeply, when I left Preston originally it didn’t take too long for me to feel regret and I was down right miserable. That’s all washed away now I’m back. Work has become a pass time instead of a reason for living and the closer I get to clocking off the more I start to get restless, eager for my short walk to the dojo. When I get there I almost sigh with relief as I open the door. I’ve moved around the UK a bit so nowhere has really felt like home but this would be the closest. It is a shame that my wife doesn’t want to move back to Preston, so we’re doing the long distance relationship which is pretty tough but it’s not permanent and I’m confident we can work around it until I return south.

Onto the body! I was wrecked by Friday and everything was a real effort. Walking, sitting down and standing up hurt. I realised something odd though, when I focus on my partner the pain goes. The training feels harder as I seem to get breathless quicker and my body sweats like crazy but all the discomfort from being physically tired and sore from falling all week just eases. I want to get that feeling in my training every day now, I feel more confident when I’m in this state and I don’t feel any of the tension build up in my legs and shoulders which would normally ruin a technique or movement and cause hesitation.

I’ve been doing plenty of backdrops after every class, I’ll step that up in Week 4. I’m waking up each morning and doing my mat exercises at home still. They’ll need to be made harder too. I’m definitely getting fitter and the weight from my backside and midriff is dropping off and there’s still a long way to go but for now I feel so positive. Hard work really pays off.

This week we’ve been through kata mochi sokumen iriminage (1), shomen uchi kote gaeshi (2), suwari waza kokyu ho, shomen uchi iriminage (1) & we’ve done a lot of kite waza for 3rd Kyu.

It’s been really awesome training with everyone. Thanks to Sensei Mick, Sensei Jayne and the Students for their help and patience. Osu!

Week 4

I’m suffering from the curse of the wobbly stance and feet that stop short of a full slide or step through. The trouble is that I worry far too much about what my feet and legs are doing instead of just moving and I’m leaning forward instead of standing tall. Sensei tells me to loosen the knee and that the movement should feel like walking; no tension. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m still tense. I’m honestly doing my best to relax, keep the shoulders down and not let my legs tense up but either through anticipation, or perhaps nervousness of making a mistake, I still wobble, stagger or lose my balance.

In fairness, it’s getting better. I shouldn’t put myself down. That’s half the battle though, keeping myself positive and focussed. I am definitely happy with my progress and I love the training. The hurts are starting to ease, that doesn’t mean I’m not pushing myself though. I sleep so well and I honestly feel like my stress levels have dropped. I’d just like to bring that level of calm into my training.

I need to bring my fitness levels up further, Sensei Jayne will be running an extra 10 minutes of throws and falls that will require students to break fall properly and be ready for the next technique as quick as possible. This is all in preparation for the Grading in two weeks. I will also continue to practice my back drops as this is really great for engaging my considerably weak core muscles. I encourage others to join in, it’s actually fun and great exercise!

We practiced a lot of kite waza for 3rd Kyu this week, it’s not for me to say if I’ll pass or not. I know the basic shape and movements for the 3rd Kyu Syllabus but I want to be confident and strong in them instead of unsure and poorly connected. I’m remembering more of what’s being called out for my additional techniques but there’s still some in there that I’m unsure about. It’s all stuff we’ll keep running through though and as always there’s been so much support from the other Students, it’s great to see you in my lessons!

Please feels free to attend my classes Monday & Wednesday 2:30pm – 3:30pm, Tuesday & Friday 2:00pm – 3:00pm, Thursday 3:00pm – 5:00pm (Open Mat)

Week 5

We’ve been running through the techniques for the 3rd Kyu Syllabus endlessly, each of my classes starts and ends with this. It’s great training because it really simulates an exam and I’d forgotten how intense a grading could actually be.

I’ve lost my mojo for flick falls although I’ve no idea why, if I flip on my own it’s fine. I’m stronger in left than right but if I’m being thrown then left is always the side I’ll hesitate on. Perhaps I’m just protecting myself too much and not giving enough faith in my ukemi. I’ll just keep practicing with a partner and build my confidence back up. I must admit the fall that rattles me most is from kote gaeshi, I never feel ready!

I’m starting to find my pace in techniques now although I need to keep my form and try my best to turn it into a graceful and flowing technique. In my mind I break it down and that comes out in my technique. I have this annoying habit with my fingers, they curl up whenever I finish a technique in zanshin. It’s also been pointed out to me that my fingers drum when I’m holding uke’s arm and I fidget too much when putting on nikajo, sankajo or yonkajo. I’m sure there’s more I need to fix but in the immediate time frame I need to do away with these.

Fitness wise I’m feeling a lot better now, quicker in my uke and it’s taking a lot more to get me out of breath. It’s time to step this up with some circuit training in the dojo, there’s plenty of space to get a good run going and I can use the crash mat to practice rolls then drop somewhere for press-ups, sit-ups etc.

I wish I’d filmed how I was in the first week compared to now, I’ve been told that I’ve come a long way but I’d like to see it. I need to have some confidence and faith in myself now, Week 6 is grading week after all!

Week 6 – Grading Week

Lets get straight to it, I passed! It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m keeping that buzz. I’m sorry that this is going to be such a short post but there’s really not much to tell about this week. We drilled on our kite and shite waza, mentally I worked on having the confidence to run up when grading and just blank everyone and everything out except the sound of a technique being called and nailing it with my best form. I did make a mistake on my shomen uchi yonkajo osae (2), I thought Sensei had called yokomen so you can imagine my surprise when I slid out to the side to block and Daniel came beside me with a shomen strike. That was rectified although I shouldn’t of made such a schoolboy error.

Sitting back in the ranks whilst the 2nd and 1st kyu gradings were occurring I noticed something my own grading and techniques severely lacked; fire. I watched Paul take his grading with Luke as uke and all I could think was wow! Now I want to bring that into my own training, especially now that I need to start learning jiu waza. I want to have that feeling the whole time.

There comes a point where after grading you might think that you’ll take it easy, gradings over why not? Don’t do it! Come back in the next week and kick off from that energy.

The training gets more intense now; I need to find my fire, work on my fitness for jiu waza and improve my form and technique… I can’t wait!

Week 7

So this week I want to start by informing people about what’s to be had at the dojo;

Each Monday Tom runs a class from 7.30 – 8.30pm, honestly you really want to make the effort to get in for these. They’re classes for all levels, they’re tough, you’ll have to work hard after having already finished an adults class prior to this BUT your Aiki will come on leaps and bounds.

Each Thursday Sarah runs a weapons class from 7.30 – 8.30pm, these classes are great for seeing how techniques and forms have come from the sword and other weapon usage is taught during this time as well. It’s great practice.

Every Tuesday an adult class is run from 3.00 – 4.00pm,  students should really take advantage of these classes. They do tend to be slightly quieter due people’s working schedules but that just means you can get more 1-2-1 attention.

My own classes are Monday & Wednesday 2.30 – 3.30pm, Tuesday & Friday 2.00 – 3.00pm. On Thursdays there’s an Open Mat from 3.00pm – 5.00pm. They’re tough classes, Sensei Mick & Sensei Jayne will push you but I can promise it’s totally worth it!

Now back to me… really took things slow this week. That doesn’t mean easy. I’m concentrating on my form during kihon dosa and technique. Jayne Sensei had us practicing a lot of ukemi which was good practice and also good for fitness. Tom has been taking us through jiu waza in his classes, jiu waza in the past has always put my back up but the lessons are helping me to focus, find the timing and relax.

I was aching a lot by the end of the week but I think that’s a build up of aches and pains over the course of 7 weeks. I took the time to have a deep tissue massage and that paid off big time. I’m learning to look after and respect my body a lot more. All the mat exercises, added warm ups and back drops have helped my fitness so much. I’ve still further to go but I’m so happy with the improvement after just 7 weeks!

Week 8

For 2nd Kyu there’s jiu waza in the syllabus and that’s after all the kihon dosa, kite waza and shite waza. That grading is a while off but I’m pushing hard to get the fitness there.

People might think it’s funny because the pre-class exercise I’m doing at the moment is from the brown belt syllabus in the juniors grading. Actually, I thought that by dint of being in the junior syllabus it wouldn’t be that tough and imagined a gentle warm up. How wrong I was! So I’m going to keep that up.

Tom has shown us some more core strengthening exercises which turn my face a shade of beetroot. They’ll be incorporated throughout the days now too. In Tom’s classes we continue to practice jiu waza and the panic has started to disappear. I urge any 3rd Kyu and above to get in for these lessons.

We took a good look at kamae and after Sensei came and physically adjusted my stance I felt completely different. I’m ashamed to say that I had a moment of doubt as I felt my hips being twisted, I felt off balance and in my head I imagined an uncomfortable looking stance. After being set in that position a few times it started to feel comfortable and when pushed from the front, back or side I felt very strong. It’s the first time I felt everything go through my back leg and into my heel. That’s the feeling I’m trying to get every time I step into kamae now, I like to think rooted to the ground. I’m open to someone coming and giving me a push or pull to test it.

Friday’s Adult Class was amazing! It was a busy mat but for those absent; we went through kihon waza starting from yokomen uchi iriminage (2). The energy in the class was fantastic. I didn’t need to look away from our group to know that everyone was committing themselves. It’s an awesome way to close a week. I had a long 3 1/2 hour drive back to Luton that night and I was grinning like an idiot all the way back.

Week 9

Short of words to describe how this week has been. I know it sounds negative but I definitely wasn’t my best but what can be taken away from this is that I know I can do a hell of a lot better.

I need to tell myself in my mind every time to push myself as long and low as possible. I’m now at the point where I need to be very conscious to keep my back heel on the floor as I slide or pivot.

There was far too much giving up. Not just in kihon dosa and fitness but also in technique. My attitude and energy in the jiu waza we did on Friday’s class was utterly rubbish but even then I know I should be telling myself to push on and just do my best.

We’ve been concentrating on one technique at a time in my own classes which really pushes you to focus on both the broader and subtle details of the technique. Katata muchi ikago osae (2) and katata muchi nikago osae (2) were drilled on extensively and now I’ve come away with a completely different feeling when doing them.

Looking forward to giving everyone a more positive outlook for Week 10!

Week 10

Okay, short week. I took Thursday and Friday out to return home. That didn’t stop it from being miles better than last week.

I felt like I had a lot more energy to give. Three days of telling myself “get up quick and go”. I’m thinking light and I’m trying to banish the fear as I uke.

I definitely enjoyed Wednesday’s class with ryote muchi tenchinage (1). Something just clicked during class and I felt relaxed which meant I could uke better. Points for improvement; my hips come up for the final step through and I need to develop power by driving through with the outer hip.

Actually, in general, I just need to loosen my hips up and lead with them instead of my feet.

I’ve managed to get up to fifty ichi backdrops now after class. It makes me laugh how I was ten weeks ago. Definitely a long way to go still but I’ve already come a long way too.

I haven’t enjoyed myself this much in ages! Just want to say thanks to everyone who’s spared me time on the mats before or after class to help, the compliments and energy, it means a lot to me.

Week 11 & Seminar

I need to start keeping a hand written diary of everything I’m doing. If I look back on a week of training sometimes its a blur, it doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention but I’d like to read back and see if I’m missing anything as those fine points can really make the difference.

This week was hard, my mentality is changing which is making me push harder now. I don’t just want to do a technique I want to have the technique done to me and in either of those situations I want to feel the connection properly.

We practiced what I think are very technical techniques; hijishime, sankajo and yonkajo. For hijishime I just need to bring my shoulders down and let the hips do the moving but there needs to be some belief in the movement as well. My sankajo is awful, if I even get it during the setup I’m bound to lose is during the next set of movements. Again, that’s because I’m not just keeping my hands where they are and letting my body do the work. More points to work on!

Actually the comment regarding my body doing the work leads nicely onto the Seminar we had this weekend. Mustard Sensei and Farshad Sensei made a surprise visit for Mick Sensei’s 60th Birthday, originally Mick Sensei and Neil Sensei were going to be taking the Seminar.

This weekend really emphasised to me why our kamae is so important and that’s the strongest message I took away from two excellent days of training. Of course I’ve always been taught it’s critical in our technique, our everything, but combined with all the training I’ve had so far the lesson clicked. Of course the good thing about the seminar is that we have ample opportunity to put this all into practice, making our centre line strong by maintaining good posture and breaking ukes completely or going around it to deliver the technique.

At this stage in my journey I think I’m starting to get the feeling or at least a better understanding than I had before. It needs to be kamae now in everything I do.

Week 12

Brilliant week full of energy, Mustard Sensei continued to teach the adult classes from Monday to Thursday. Also, Mustard Sensei and Farshad Sensei both held classes earlier in the day for those who could make it.

On Monday’s 2pm class Mustard Sensei took us through Kamae and Hiriki No Yosei Ichi. I’m still having trouble sliding but there were other issues that needed to be fixed. Front toes not facing outwards enough, hips not coming through square, lower hand more than a fist away from the belt knot. My Kamae was also too high and top heavy and my body didn’t line up with my back leg.

So after addressing all these problems I feel stronger, solid, rooted. Hey it’s not perfect but I’ll keep working on that. It feels easier to begin a technique from this now, if it’s right then there’s no wobble as Uke hasn’t found my centre of balance.

We spent the better part of a week watching and listening to Mustard Sensei really breaking down techniques. We obviously try not to over think our movements so they become more fluid and natural but there’s so much in the movements to set up a technique, so many subtle things to take into account and if they’re missed the technique loses form. What always surprises me is the smallest movements often have the most drastic effect on Uke.

Week 13

Awesome week, felt so loose and relaxed. My energy was high and everything just felt right!

I felt like I really got my flick falls nailed down in Tom’s 7.30pm class on Monday which was great because I had to do a Demo with Sensei at a local school so obviously didn’t want to get up and be the worlds worst uke.

During Wednesday’s class I practiced a mixture of uke for jiu waza with Mick Sensei and then shomen uchi iriminage ichi with Jayne Sensei and a lot was learnt again just from small and subtle movements.

Jayne Sensei taught a really passionate class on Thursday really emphasising our connection with each other during technique and brining that energy so that we’re not purely going through the motions. The room felt different by the end, definitely something we want every lesson!

The Demo went really well on Friday and coming back into the Dojo on a high we had a good Adult class which involved Ushiro ryote mochi sankajo osae (2) and then we did Aiki nage to finish.

To round the week off 7 of us attended the BAA Level 1 Coach Course on Saturday and passed without a problem.

Week 14

Okay so this week didn’t exactly start on a high, we kicked off on Monday with some Katate jiu waza and I let fear of injury get in the way of  being a good uke. What’s worse is that tension comes out in my own technique.

On Tuesday I was uke for about 30mins whilst Sensei Mick threw me and once I was well and truly tired the form went completely from my ukemi and then they just started to hurt each time. I was miserable by the time we got to the adult class in the evening and we did even more jiu waza in that class.

I managed to lighten up a bit for Wednesday and just accept that at some stages the training is going to hurt and that I just need to shrug it off and continue otherwise it would plague everything I do.

I’d have to say that Friday’s adult class felt the best for me, I felt a lot more relaxed and happy with what I was doing. We did more Katate jiu waza and although I still can’t smoothly get the Kotegaeshi throw I felt like I progressed even just a little with the others – Hijiate, Ikajo, Kokyu nage & Shio kazushi.

On another happy note; Dawn has now joined the Deshi program at the Dojo and is already making a positive impact.

Week 15

It was a short week due to the Easter break, I only trained until Wednesday. Sensei started the week off in style with Dawn and I going through the Sho Dan syllabus there were quite a few techniques I was unsure on but the main point I was pulled up on was doing each movement with commitment and intent. After that I now have to complete an hour of Kihon Dosa each day to improve my movements, not going to lie it’s hard work and you do have to push yourself but it’s totally worth it.

Tom was on Holiday but Drew stepped in to take his class after the adults class on Monday and taught an awesome session on Sankajo.

On Tuesday we took a look at Shomen uchi Kotgaeshi osae (2) in the early class. I’ve never felt that I’ve been doing the Kotegaeshi right, I know I’ve always been too forceful with it and I do feel sorry for any Uke that’s had to endure it. The issue was trust, I’ve never trusted it but after that class now I can.

For the final day of training (for me) we went through forward rolls and flick falls for an hour in the early class. My biggest issue is confidence in my falls as just before I’m about to be thrown I tense up and my mind starts racing through “am I facing the right way? where are my feet? when should I start moving?”. So after the practice I feel a bit better about the whole thing.

I finished the week off with Shomen uchi Iriminage (2) drawing close attention to the subtle movements of the throwing arm which breaks Uke’s structure and also keeps the connection during the throw. We finished the session with Jiu waza variations of Iriminage which was fun.

Week 16

I’ve been dipping into the Shodan Syllabus this week and there were two curve balls that I’ve not encountered before Kata mochi Sankajo osae (1) & Katate mochi Yonkajo osae (1). Never done them before! Managed to “muddle” through the Yonkajo but couldn’t initially work out the Sankajo and when Jayne Sensei showed me the correct technique I wound up feeling like an utter drip for not finding it myself!

We practiced Katate mochi Sokumen Iriminage (1) this week, I really enjoy this technique and I feel like I’m getting smoother but now I’m trying to concentrate on the heavy feeling on the slide through and the out feeling for the actual throw. We were testing the stance from a pull once you make the initial “T” with your front foot, made my front knee shake.

We closed Friday with Shomen uchi Yonkajo osae (2), as Uke I need to give my shoulder a lot more. The focus went into taking the Yonkajo with the initial 90 degree pivot by following the line of the elbow then the control by keeping the shoulder forwards through the 2nd pivot of 180 degrees down to the floor. Afterwards we did a Jiu Waza variation of the Yonkajo throw from Katate which I thought was horrid to fall from but really nice to setup so I’d like to use it in my Jiu Waza.

Week 17

The start of Grading practice, I knew the shape of the techniques for the 1st Kyu syllabus but was woefully ignorant of the key points within.

I really struggle with Suwari waza kata mochi ikajo osae (2). I’m way to cumbersome for the sublte pivot and hip shift and concentrating too much on what my arm is doing whilst connected to uke. Main points to take away were practicing the pivot and hip turn as the hips totally control the technique and keeping my backside on my heels. Then keeping the arm connected with uke on my centre line.

Also another technique for improvement was Katate mochi kotegaeshi (2). The throw being all in the pivot, my pivot wasn’t commited and there was too much going into my hand movements when nothing should be going on once koteaeshi is on.

 Week 18

What was meant to be a short but high impact week for me to work on my 1st Kyu Grading Syllabus turned out to be pretty awful.

To start with I offered out a terrible Uke to Dawn and to make matters worse my Ukemi was poor earning me a lovely leg injury. It was a sour end to Tuesday as I thought my training throughout the day until that point went well. I’d trained well with Justin earlier and then Mike in the evening and my heart and mind was totally in the game.

I spent Wednesday to Friday uterly miserable at the side of the mats.

Week 19 – Grading Week

James from the Isle of Man came over for the week to train for his 1st Kyu Test this week. As I was taking the same Test we tagged up and it was decided that we’d Shite & Uke for each other during the examination.

It was a tough but extremely rewarding week where weaknesses were found and improved upon, we both gave ourselves 100% to the training and following grading. Every evening after class I slept like the dead and the focus was mentally draining.

It felt awesome, it’s the first time I’ve felt that energy.

A big thanks to James for the training that week, I took a lot away from it.

Week 20

Honestly no idea how I was still tired after Grading even after a good weekends rest. That was to plague me all week.

I was unfortunate enough to miss the Paul Steven’s Sensei Seminar on both Saturday and Sunday where I was told that a lot of focus went into the technical breakdown of each technique or movement.

We started off with Shomen uchi ikajo osae (2) focussing on bringing uke onto the centre line after the initial pivot. Then we looked at Ryote mochi tenchinage (1) focussing on sneaking the leg through during the step to throw so that the arms and hips delier the power together.

We also practiced Katate mochi nikajo osae (2) paying special attention to the short pivot after the slide punch used to bring uke’s wrist up to take nikajo. The hip should be used to move the arm up driving the hip through for control. For Katate mochi sokumen iriminage (1) we praticed delivering the throw in Hanmi sliding through and bringing the back hip in for the power.

Week 21

I’ve never been stabbed by a wooden tanto before and oddly I never thought I would but for some stupid reason I completely froze as Sarah jabbed me right in the gut. I asked for a Kotegaeshi class in the week which also turned into a very fun but intense defense class. I took Uke for most of the class and for the first time in ages I felt fear but it was exilerating.

We practiced Katate mochi hijiate kokyu nage (1), focus points were using the arm like a cam to affect Uke’s shoulder but using the other arm to throw just as much. The habit to break is rolling the arm but pushing Uke with your shoulder coming forwards. Also, the step through to throw need to be whole body whereas I was leading with my legs and letting my body follow.

Week 22

I’ve been coming in early in the mornings to spend more time getting my fitness up in amore aiki related way. It’s also great because I can get my Dojo duties done and out the way before people come in.

My entire morning is now given over to fitness and kihon dosa so that afternoons can be fully focussed on technique. My goal is to take 50 falls minimum either; shoulder rotating, forward roll or flick fall and keep going. Mentally it’s that digging deep when your muscles are tired and you feel like you’re about to be sick. I need to push through.

I do interval training; shuttles with mat exercises in between, then shuttles with falling in between followed by very quick flick falls and then (1) backdrops. all the exercises help my general stamina or strengthen my core muscles.

Dawn and Justin have been getting in to do this with me most mornings which means we can have a little competition and fun with it.

Then we go through the 1st Kyu and Sho Dan syllabus including the shite waza.

Even with all of this though, it’s time to take it up a notch.

Week 23

Cue to sweat-fest, warm weather and hard work create a very muggy environment. I’m glad I have a number of gi’s because even when they’re aired out they don’t dry properly for the next day.

I’m trying to make every movement with intent now. Kihon dosa, technique, jiyu waza, it doesn’t matter. I want each movement to be commited. The level of focus required for that is mentally and physically draining, I’m going through a lot more water in a day, and although I’m ashamed to say it, I take any chance to relax and get ready for the next session. It’s genuinly pleasing to take 10mins outside in the sun with some fruit and water and let the breeze cool off the sweat drenched gi.

I’m trying to be mindful about everything now, what I need to improve and what specific aspect without letting everything else go. My test is so close and i still have so many things I want to improve.

I want to make it look and feel martial.