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

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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… Continue reading How Effective Is Aikido?

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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… Continue reading Grading in the Martial Arts

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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.… Continue reading Aikido and the problem of grabbing, or playing with shopping trolleys

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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… Continue reading A review and response to “The First Jedi”

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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… Continue reading Compassion in the Martial Arts

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