Category: martial arts

  • 20 years since shodan – reflections on gradings, mastery and imposter syndrome

    20 years since shodan – reflections on gradings, mastery and imposter syndrome

    Today (5th August 2021) marks twenty years since I first graded to shodan (the first black belt grade) in a martial art. It might come as a surprise to many non martial artists that there are multiple black belt grades, and that a black belt does not represent the end of a journey but more […]

  • Resistance in Aikido

    If you spend a little bit of time on-line looking at what other martial arts practitioners have to say about aikido, one of the thing you note is that people with little or no experience whatsoever about aikido still have plenty to say about it. The most common comments is that aikido has no sparring […]

  • How Effective Is Aikido?

    I based this on a response I made to the same question on Quora. But it’s a question I get asked a lot. Along with the somewhat related “how often do you need to use aikido?” which I address below. It’s very popular for people (often who have never studied aikido) to tell other people […]

  • Fear is the Path to the Dark Side

    Fear is the Path to the Dark Side

    When I was in primary school we had some swimming lessons, and at one point someone asked us to swim a length to decide which “stream” we would be in. At this stage I enjoyed swimming and was reasonably OK as a swimmer. I was so determined to get in the better stream that I […]

  • Grading in the Martial Arts

    Last week Donal and I got involved in answering some questions about grading from folks in our aikido club. I thought I would put some of my thoughts here. Other people’s thoughts will vary and I’d welcome other perspectives in the comments. These are perspectives on grading in Japanese martial arts, but particularly aikido. They […]

  • Aikido and the problem of grabbing, or playing with shopping trolleys

    Aikido is a martial art which is famous, or perhaps infamous, for being taught initially by the attacker (uke) grabbing the defender (nage). Really this is artificial; one cannot afford to wait to be grabbed before acting, but it does form a useful start in understanding the interplay of force and energy between the two. […]

  • A review and response to “The First Jedi”

    A few months ago, Allen Baird wrote to me courteously to tell me he had written a book about some experiences running a Jedi Course at Queen’s University, that I was tangentially involved in. I discovered the book was available about a week ago, and obtained the Kindle copy and read it over a few […]

  • Aikido in Dead Straight Lines

    There’s been an elephant in the room on my blog for quite a while now, and it has prevented me completing a number of articles that I have had in draft for some time. A bit over a year ago, my friend and mentor, Alan Ruddock died. I’ve been trying to articulate what that meant […]

  • Fudoshin

    I wrote this essay almost eight years ago. I’m just republishing it in a web format. In many eastern religions, and indeed their occidental counterparts, great emphasis is placed in reaching states of personal enlightenment or self-improvement. In Zen, this is often approached from several angles (See D.T. Suzuki [2]), but perhaps the most well […]

  • Compassion in the Martial Arts

    I recently had a conversation with some people who wondered if there could be any place for compassion in the martial arts in general, and certainly in Iaido, or Japanese swordsmanship in particular. It may be useful to start by considering the idea of Bushido, or “the Way of the Warrior”. A lot of people […]