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

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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

  • 15
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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”

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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… Continue reading Fudoshin

  • 3
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Sword ban comes into force

It seems that on the 6th April the long awaited ban on Japanese swords came into effect in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I don’t know what the situation is in Scotland. Remarkably, even in the jurisdictions that enforce the new ban, there is considerable confusion about its extent. UTV have reported, totally erroneously, that… Continue reading Sword ban comes into force

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Sharp Steel Sword (SwordStore.com) redux

My sword arrived from the USA and got caught in customs for a while, I went to collect it and pay the import tax on the 2nd January. Since then I’ve been looking at it quite carefully. I was relieved customs had not opened it (not because of any legal concerns, it is all perfectly… Continue reading Sharp Steel Sword (SwordStore.com) redux

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

“Imitation” Samurai Swords Banned

So, it finally has been confirmed, the Home Office will ban “imitation” samurai swords in England and Wales, and I expect the rest of the UK will soon follow suit. First of all, most students of the martial arts hate the “samurai sword” name, so let’s call them Japanese swords. I understand that attacks with… Continue reading “Imitation” Samurai Swords Banned

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •