Aikido Do-Nots

In training aikido nearly everyday for over two years I just thought I'd like to summarise some things I noticed. It's pretty typical stuff for novices but if you carry these things on to black belt you run the risk of looking silly at best, to making your partner think you're trying to start a fight at worst. Of course I know also that I'm not perfect, and I by no means am pointing down at anyone from a high horse. Things like pulling can be subtle and hard to notice by yourself, and we've all caught ourselves not quite in hanmi when we should have been at some stage. So yeah, let's just remind ourselves, shall we?

Basics of Holding

Just hold the arm normally. Some people have this weird tendency of holding exactly on the wrist joint and then squeezing. I don't know what you think you're doing but please stop. In extreme cases the holder seems to loose sight of the bigger picture entirely and focus solely on statically clinging to your arm like a limpet.  

Related to this is when people literally hang off you/lean on you. No. If you do that, you're giving up your balance entirely. It's too early for that. I mean if you're ready to fall over by yourself nage doesn't actually need to throw you, just get out of your way as you topple like lumber. The importance of learning good ukemi from early on is really evident here. 

Distance: Again, even as uke, you should have some sense of self-preservation. Standing too close to nage, all bunched up really doesn't do much for you in that regard. It's hard to connect from the centre that way and hard to react. Remember the objective isn't to latch on to the person for dear life. You're meant to be the attacker. Don't put yourself in a vulnerable position. 

Pulling and pushing: Happens as tori and uke. Rather than go for the opponent's centre, again become obsessed with the arm and try to move that. Really unpleasant. Pushing is the same. Sometimes the pull you on top of them. Do you want me to fall on you? Okay. I don't see how that's a win for you though. This is a really tricky one though. Most people who push and pull right up to advanced level aren't actually aware of it. Sometimes it's really obvious, sometimes only one side can feel it. Seemingly I pull when taking ukemi from shihonage sometimes and only on one side. Still working on that. Pushing only on the arm and not taking the centre is also really common on ikkyo etc. Something to watch out for.



Ah yes. The classic face ukemi. I dunno. Do you want your face rearranged like a Picasso painting? Rather than come forward from the centre, sometimes you have people willing to sacrifice their face. Totally unnecessary if you bring your whole body forward and you're more stable and a better position to react. 

Not in hanmi: Common especially if the uke follows around from an irimi-tenkan, the arrive to stand squarely in front. Totally exposed. Well within kicking distance. Think about it. Again, even as uke please have some sense of self-preservation.

Take ukemi before nage has even done anything. This especially drives me crazy in crowded dojo: when you're taking care to not hit people on either side of you and suddenly your uke just randomly repels themselves away from you in dramatic roll/backfall. If you want to do that please go do it in a field by yourself. Otherwise, please at least try to stay connected. It's not always that easy I know, but please try. Of course if nage is pulling or going ahead it can be really difficult. That's why it's interesting though: with the two sides giving their best and being sensitive to the other side you can make really interesting discoveries. First though it's important to be able to protect yourself with good ukemi and it's also great if you can build you a trust relationship to give each other feedback. Then everyone improves.

That's about it for now. People who don't do aikido will have been entirely lost but thanks for following along anyway.

All images are property of Robin Hoshino and not to be used with out permission


What's in Takasaki city, Gunma prefecture? Nothing. Oh, well, a brand new big massive sports arena, and apparently someone with just enough sway within the Aikikai organisation to convince them to hold the biggest International Aikido Conference that happens once every four years there.  

It's conveniently located less than a ten minute walk from the main station, as are all the budget business hotels. As a result, after a week I know the Takasaki train station more intimately than any station after more than a year of living in Kyoto city. So for a week my entire world was that which was within a kilometre of that station. It was a simple daily pattern comprised of a handful of basic elements roughly of equal importance: aikido, eating, laundry, bath, sleep. 

Initially when I heard about the seminar I wasn't overly excited. It sounded like a massive pain to have to travel to and stay at some nowhere place at great expense, in order to spend everyday doing what I already do everyday, except more. A brief trip to and from Ireland where I had a less than satisfactory training experience gave me a fresh sense of perspective, realising that such an opportunity to train with world-class teachers for a whole week in one place within the country I live was a real privilege and so, I bit the bullet and went.

Well, I'm terribly glad I did. First and foremost, each day four different teachers had an hour slot. So I had four case studies per day of how to teach a class. The comparisons were very interesting, especially considering the there were hundreds of people on the mat each day, different levels who may or may not be familiar with any given teacher. Generally the Hombu teachers opted for clean basics: working on movement and techniques that generally anyone should be familiar with. With so many students of different backgrounds, while for us it was familiar, it was quickly apparent that not everyone has the best grasp of the basics and have come with different ideas and aikido histories so it was challenging to figure out how to have optimum training with everyone, one person at a time.

At the risk of sounding biased, from a teaching perspective I thought Okamoto-sensei's class was one of the most well-designed. She focused on the concept of shifting weight and movement, something that can be applied to many techniques and something for people of all levels to work on. While I thought this was easy to follow, (to be fair she had been practising this kind of class at home in Kyoto for weeks beforehand so I was very familiar with what she was trying to get across), it was clear that a lot of people weren't getting it, fixating instead on the form and trying to do "techniques" in a cart-before-the-horse sort of way. Also, it was a very good demonstration in creating rhythm in a class. It was snappy with very little verbal explanation and fun. This was especially welcome after the previous afternoon's class which was tedious lecture from Asai-sensei of the German Aikido Federation. For me this was the ultimate example of how to NOT teach anything ever: complaining endlessly that students these days don't watch properly and aren't hardcore, taking ukemi on concrete and whatnot like his generation is unsurprisingly not interesting or motivating. It also doesn't really take into account that the world has changed immeasurably in the last fifty years which was very irritating. A class, especially where people have given time and money to be there for is not an opportunity for soapboxing and nostalgia. There was absolutely nothing to take away as a student which was a huge opportunity wasted, but that's his choice. I can't remember if he showed any techniques at all. He also went over time, which I also think is unprofessional and left everyone with very little time to pack up and change before the facility closed.

We saw other approaches as well; foreign teachers sometimes seemed to have a cultish following in their own country where as when one looked at their actual Aikido, well, it's different, sometimes a bit too free-form for my liking. In any case, it's interesting to see that there is all sorts out there, though privately I felt snug and reassured knowing I would be returning to the warm cocoon of Aikido Kyoto when this was over. Which in turn made me kind of feel like a stuck-up kid from a fancy private school at an inter-school sports meet.

In training with so many people, it was interesting to work out how to move as the teacher instructed while also being aware of my training partner and how they were moving and reacting to try get them to move how I wanted without being forceful, to have the best possible training with each person, constantly negotiating through movement. Okamoto-sensei sometimes says to us: if you have something to say, say it through your Aikido. Particularly after sitting a few lecture-type classes I could really appreciate this idea. 

Living in the isolated bubble of Takasaki for a week was also good training of living in the moment and not getting caught up in the past or the future. Just focusing on the task and the partner in front of me. It was also a fantastic opportunity to meet of Okamoto-sensei's international contacts. The teacher she visits in Australia, Christian Tissier-sensei and his students of course and other friends like Janet-sensei from Greece. I seem to be good at finding very niche interests where that it's relatively easy to get to know the whole international community in that area (like specialty coffee). Even with people from the other side of the world that you're meeting for the first time, you find you'll have a mutual connection somewhere. It's rather heartening I feel, to make those kind of connections. For me one of the interesting things about Aikido is it's about how something can happen out of a connection with another person. That energy that's created from basically nothing is really fascinating to me so naturally I like to broaden my network of like-minded people also. You never know when and how but magic stuff can come from connections so it's always worth having them.

Even with people I didn't actually talk with, once I had enjoyable training with a person, quite often that person would seek me out again another day. Until near the end of the week I didn't train with Aikido Kyoto members at all but being away from our routines at home but there also there was a sort of sense of unified spirit what made the experience worthwhile. 

Here's a little comic I did of the basic daily schedule:

The Escapist

As a devoted Monocle consumer I awaited my copy of The Escapist with a sense giddy anticipation, ready to bask in the “sunshine on paper” as it was described on Monocle radio, and at the same time with an inward sigh thinking that’s probably as close to a summer holiday as I might get: aspirational window shopping from my utilitarian accommodation of the kenshusei shisetsu, a world away from the Nice Things and Beautiful People usually fill the pages of a Monocle publication.

At that time I had forgotten that, in a sense I was already living The Escapist dream. I escaped the nine to five about two years ago, first getting by somehow while having all sorts of food-centered adventures in Dublin, now, I’m operating even further outside the normal framework. Indeed if I chose to I could phrase my current situation rather grandly: an aikido practitioner living in the traditional, machiya-lined northern part of Kyoto city on a intense training program to become a professional martial artist. I could curate my photo uploads to snaps of the Budo centre’s traditional-style training hall, the Kamo river, leafy temples and tasteful cafe interiors (and in fact for the most part I do). None of this really speaks anything of the financial uncertainty, the utilitarian dojo-owned share house designed by the ergonomically illiterate, or the strict training schedule which makes up the greater part of daily life. It’s living the dream, but the dream is actually tough going. Meanwhile, all that nice cultural stuff just sits in the background out of focus - Kyoto becomes a fishbowl where you just go around and round in the same circles week on week while the heat steadily rises and then remains trapped by the surrounding mountains.

This unseen, unglamorous daily reality is taken to extremes once the summer sets in proper: shedding litres of sweat in a tatami lined box with about twenty other people, throwing and taking falls, trying to aim your landing a few centimetres away from the visible print of someone else’s sweat drenched dogi. Any exotic thrill of living in Kyoto for martial arts is soon lost in that unforgiving heat bog of a city where temperatures sit at 35 degrees Celsius. The mere act of bowing in at the start of training produces visible beads of perspiration and in the time you’re not dragging yourself up from a pool of your own sweat after taking break falls over and over again in the dojo, your main preoccupation is laundry and the efficient rotation of dojo wear.

So when The Escapist arrived I was more than ready to be invited to feel the breeze of Beirut while lying on the floor my room underneath underneath the air conditioner. As it happened however, I got a slice of the real deal - to take my own journey that was very much in the spirit of the magazine. 

A few days after the magazine arrived, due to carelessness on my part, my travel arrangements to an eight hour aikido seminar in Odawara were voided. At first I was furious at myself for losing out on 2000 yen overnight bus hell; due to spending most of our time on unpaid training, we kenshusei are generally in a perpetual state of poverty. This rules out flashy options like the Shinkansen, but, when I talked with the others I was reminded that August is the season to buy a Seishun 18 ticket in Japan. For about 10,000 yen it can be used for five journeys on any local train. A nice feature is that multiple people can use the same ticket (each counting as one of the five journeys) so, with two of my fellow kenshusei, we bought one to take the train from Kyoto to Yugawara, a stop before Odawara, our final destination. This was due to it being cheaper to stay in Yugawara and travel forward on the day of the seminar. 

Last year I Inter-railed solo around Europe, and as such I have Passing Time on Trains down to a fine art, but I was surprised at the how fluidly seven hours passed with two travelling companions, homemade cake and a game of shiratori - though the latter was abandoned between trains after about an hour. There were many changes of trains but while they looked like an awful lot of work as a list on a timetable, in reality were very smooth and easy. 

Once we arrived in Yugawara it was already dark and most places were closed, but so delighted were we to move our legs the fifteen minute walk Google maps lead us on was very agreeable. We found ourselves at a non-descript street near the edge of town where there was a Teishoku-ya - a place to get a set Japanese style set meal for a reasonable price. Having lived in Kyoto about six months now I’d become sort of desensitised to the splendour of all the shrines and temples, though walking through this new environment, I was struck anew by the pleasure of being in a beautiful place, in this small seaside town south Tokyo of all places, somewhere I didn’t know existed until the week before. The small town atmosphere with a hint of the sea - in the air but also in the pointed reminders of the sea level at where ever you looked, the streets lined with paper lanterns for o-bon and the black shape of the mountains - totally different to Kyoto - somehow more open. 

At the Teishoku-ya we had a simple and delicious meal of rice, miso soup, grilled fish, a little salad and chawanmushi to the comfortable backdrop of mindless evening television. From there we contacted our ryokan owner who came and picked us up. What initially seemed like an exemplary gesture of Japanese hospitality was soon evidently more of a necessity as we rode the car up a steep winding hill devoid of any illumination. 

The ryokan was old, it seemed like it might be a converted care home - the layout was strange and the owners were insistent on the use of the elevator for a journey between floors of about ten seconds by stairs. It’s selling point was the ‘mikan bath’ which was literally a big Japanese style bath filled with citrus bobbing about on the surface filling the bathroom with steamy zestiness, was a new and slightly surreal experience. There was also a coveted rotemburo - outdoor bath which we were entitled to use for a half an hour. Being the unlikely trio of an Irish woman, a Japanese man and a French man, it was delicately agreed the fairest way was to divide this time into two fifteen minute slots with me going first. Rotemburo against the clock is not exactly the gently restorative experience Japanese people get dreamy-eyed over, but it wasn’t unsatisfying.  

The room was somewhat more equipped than your average European budget hotel, what’s considered the essentials in hospitality and how it varies from place to place is always interesting. Here, it seems one cannot get by without a hot water dispenser, lacquer box with full Japanese tea set, low table with big plush zabuton, in addition to the tv and hairdryer. Our futons were laid out already on the immaculate tatami. A huge window faced down on the town towards the mountain and though it wasn’t visible at the given hour, in the morning we woke to a spectacular vista, which is just what you want when you wake up in a strange place.

In the morning we had a leisurely stroll along the citrus tree lined mountain road, then took another quick soak in the baths before getting ready for an intense weekend of sweating it out on the tatami. Sitting in the wooden lined bath by myself at seven a.m. facing an unfamiliar mountain range which was vibrant in the August morning sunshine, I perused an article about Perth and felt a deep sense of pleasure at how I had come to be here, a how happy coincidence and lack of both money and expectations opened the door to an overall richer experience than the most obvious travel option. To recall the actual seminar only draws up a hazy blur of people, litres Pocari Sweat and even more actual sweat, it's the memory of the unexpected journey with two unlikely companions that lingers sweetly: sunlight citrus and the sea, and will remain something to treasure.

Aikido Kyoto Tenugui

Recently it was Yoko-sensei's 60th birthday and I got to design the commemorative tenugui for Aikido Kyoto. It's inspired by the choju giga scrolls which are very famous, and much loved in Kyoto. 

I didn't actually see it until the day of the seminar. It was a relief to see it came out pretty much as I designed it. All the members got one, and Yoko-sensei also sent some to all dojos we have a relationship so they've gone to Europe and America too. The remaining tenugui will be on sale for 1000 yen each. 


Aikido Doodles

I can`t remember why but I was doing aikido drawings for some reason. As Aikido consumes more and more of my life these will likely become more frequent, as well short comics about things that amused me. Also hakama are fun to draw. They`re also amazing pieces of clothing if you examine how they`re made. In general Japanese clothing is ingenius imo, It`s generally quite practical, comfortable and looks great. 

Kenshusei Life: Saturday | 研修生ライフ(土)

Finally we get to the last day of the training week. There's a zazen at 8:20 which some people go to, then class with Chris-sensei starts at the agreeable time of 10AM. Saturday is always a good day because, being a day off a lot of sempai are able to come and it's fun to train with them and you learn a lot. With so many people who have been training together for a long time, there's a good atmosphere. The format is for Chris to go through some techniques, basic stuff that people need to know for gradings and end with randori, which is also tested. Randori is where the tori starts at one end of the mat and the uke, usually about three people are at the end of the end. At the call of "hajime!" the uke go to grab the tori who has to throw them. It's a test of timing and judgement, that you go through the attackers and strategically throw them so they stay spaced out and you don't end up crowded. It's a lot harder than it looks.

Last class of the week is another weapons class, this time with Chris-sensei. Like on Friday it can be bokken or jo. Chris and Yoko have different styles of teaching. Chris is more likely to get annoyed at us for not being able to do what he's showing, which manifests itself in jovial insults. I guess it's that Irish blood. 

When that's over kenshusei do our weekly appointed dojo cleaning and then that's it till Monday. So there you have it. One week in kenshusei life. There are other things that kenshusei have to do, such as keeping the inside and outside of the dojo tidy which involve the unexciting tasks of sweeping up leaves and toilet cleaning. On golden week we had to repaint the dojo, Hasegawa has the added task of fielding all e-mail that comes in, with the help of Pierre, if it's in French. Pierre is in charge of dojo maintenance, us newbies are in charge of dealing with guests when Paul isn't there. So far I haven't been as on ball with this I need to be- one moment of hesitation where you wonder if this person is a stranger, or just a member you haven't seen before is the moment you are judged in the eagle eye of one of the more experienced members to be not doing your job at all and at warp speed they appear beside the visitor, pamphlet and newsletter in one hand and zabuton in the other. Just another thing to work on. Three years, people.

I've tried to give a clear account of the week without being exhaustively detailed and boring people but if you have any questions or would otherwise like to express your thoughts having read this series of posts, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

Kenshusei Life: Friday | 研修生ライフ(金)

Friday training is unique in that it's the only day that happens at the Budo Centre. That sounds cool, and in fact there is a really gorgeous old style Japanese building on the grounds that's used as a training space. For our usual weekly visit however we train in basically a generic sports facility. We have to put down the mats before class and take them up afterwards which is a bit of pain but the Budo Centre is only 30 mins by bike which is more than reasonable considering the Hirakata journey on Wednesday. We will get to use the traditional building soon though for our upcoming international seminar so that will be something to look forward to. 

The nice thing is that the space is quite big compared to Nishijin so even if there's a lot of people it's comfortable. 

This class is an hour and a half, then there's a short break and then there's weapons class. This is separate to regular training and you have to apply to be in it because due to the obvious fact that it's a lot of people swinging weapons around, space is limited. This class can be either bokken which is a wooden sword or a jo which is a wooden pole. You've seen them in a martial arts film at some stage surely. 

Weapons class is difficult. There's a certain amount of transferrable knowledge but it really is a different beast. I speak from the point of view of a person who never did weapons until I came to Kyoto. Many dojos don't really go in to them too much.  

So we bash away at that for another hour. Usually some basic movements, some drills then some exercises and then maybe, just maybe we might do something that, well, looks cool I guess. I'm not sure what weapons mean to me yet so I'm quite happy to do the static exercises while I figure out if it, as head of animation in college, Keith Foran used to say; informs some other part of my training. Right now all it does is give my arms a serious workout, though it is getting more fun as I no longer have to think too hard about holding the bloody thing the right way or not drop it or something like that.

And then that's it for Friday. Then I usually get home pumped to do stuff then run out of energy right after I put my dogi in the washing machine and just lie on the floor instead. One more day to go!

Kenshusei Life: Thursday | 研修生ライフ(木)

Once you get home Wednesday night you know you're on a roll to the end of the week. Depending on your personal schedule, Thursday morning class is sort of optional. For those of us who attend every other scheduled class this is the one to take off and recover a bit. People who because of other engagements miss other classes in the week tend to go. Paul teaches it and he has a distinct following of beginners who enjoy his snail-pace classes. 

The other reason to take Thursday morning is because Thursday night is three classes back to back: kids, beginners and advanced. 

There's some mixed levels of both skill and will power in Thursday nights class. You also have your typical few 'old man' kids who are always tired or have a sore knee or elbow or really just find it all too much today of all days. The response to all of which is to just throw them repeatedly until they get genuinely tired and don't have the energy to put on the act.

Next is a basics class so we team up with lower grades and it's all very nice and polite. We don't want to scare anyone. Just do some basics techniques broken down into a series or exercises until everyone can more or less do it.

Then the lower grades go home and the higher grades thrash each other for another hour. The All Nippon embu at Hombu Dojo is coming up. It's a huge Aikido meet basically and each dojo gets to show off their stuff. Yoko-sensei has been working on Aikido Kyoto's demonstration. For this reason golden trio of Manyu-san, Daisaku and Hasegawa have been getting flaked around the place something fierce. Incidentally, Thursday night is the day we tend to get the most visitors, probably of the two-for-one value of the consecutive classes. Depending on where they came from, full power Yoko-sensei can be a bit of a shock to the system. 

As it gets warmer these high-intensity classes are getting tougher. The last twenty minutes are difficult to follow if sensei decides not to slow down the pace when all you can think about is if you'd rather juice or beer. Then we go back home, Thursday night is the night we rotate who makes dinner for everyone in the kenshusei house. Nearly the weekend now. Two days to go.

Kenshusei Life: Wednesday | 研修生ライフ(水)

This is the day we reach the peak of the training week. Today is more than four hours dojo time split between Nishijin dojo in the morning and then the epic journey to the middle of the suburban nowhere that is Hirakata, where the pace of training kicks up a level. We'll get to that later.

Zazen is 6AM again on Wednesdays. By the third day of zazen (keeping in mind I'm only a month into at least three years of training) my legs really have had enough of this pose and it feels like a tremendously long forty minutes. This is just an issue of personal perseverance. 

After zazen is a Basics class at 7AM. At this point of the week, Yoko-sensei often has clearly established a theme, it might be for example: a specific technique like irmi-nage or some detail that applies in general such as proper grip as ukemi. Having being aware of that makes it easy for us to take the ukemi and easier to help instruct other as now we've been doing this since Monday. It's part of the rhythm of the week that you get in to and it makes it easier. If you miss a day you really do feel it.  

After the basics class there's a brief break while the regular students head off and then we have a forty five minute kenshusei class. This is often a slot where Yoko-sensei will work with us individually on something, or for the more experienced people, be repeatedly milled off the floor. The atmosphere is different to regular classes. In a way it feels like a little reward for all the other things kenshusei have to do, which we'll come to another day. This week for example Yoko-sensei was interested in improving our breathing technique and the core. Here is when everything sort of pulls together, where the breathing control in zazen links in to the training which you do the rest of the day. These are the sort of "hmm" moments you sometimes get left with to mull over and feel a bit pleased by because people like things having meaning and puzzled because you are now deep in this mist of this other world far from normal people and left to fend for yourself. Much like the businessmen practicing their golf swings with umbrellas on train platforms, you might find yourself absently waving your arm in a shomen-uchi while cycling your bike. *cough*Daisaku*cough*

So then we cut to the afternoon when we head make our way out to Hirakata, which is seemingly a suburb of Osaka rather than part of Kyoto. It requires cycling to the train station, then get a thirty minute train, then get a taxi or bus from Hirakata station. It is an ordeal that we go through every Wednesday. There's something terrifically Japanese about the preservation of this ritual in the face of all good sense - more than half of the adult class are kenshusei and other people who came from Kyoto. Why do we do it? Well part of it is that Yoko started in Hirakata when she and Chris came back to Japan. Also, there's the kids class. Each kids class in the three dojo locations is different. The Hirakata kids really have it together. They usually display a good spirit and take instruction well. We have some very enthusiastic new kids in this class at the moment including a kid who looks small enough to fit in my rucksack. Even he, who's only been there a few weeks can roll properly, though if the pace picks up he tends to panic and resorts to just throwing himself sideways or backwards - a class beginner reaction.

Lastly is the adult class. The Hirakata Gymnasium mat space is enormous. This facilitates more dynamic movement, bigger ukemi, generally more bashing around, red faces and sweat. Yoko-sensei is usually on top form for Hirakata and again sempai are often seen, ideally at a safe distance, being mashed around at some side of the room. Basically for Hirakata, everyone is on fire. Unless you actually live in Hirakata and this is just normal training, then poor you having to deal with this swarm of aikido maniacs descending upon you. To summarize: Hirakata is high-energy - the summit of the training week . This gets you ready for Thursday night's higher grade class, and the long Friday and Saturday mornings which both include weapons training. Until tomorrow!

Kenshusei Life: Tuesday | 研修生ライフ(火)

Tuesday starts with 7:40 zazen, which is nice but can easily lead to being a bit too relaxed about getting up and rushing at the last minute. Tuesday is the day I most often don't have time for coffee and spend zazen just fighting to keep my eyes open.

Class is then at 8AM. It's another general class. It tends to be a pretty mixed bag depending on who comes. Sometimes we do some basic stuff, today it was practising sutemi throws which is one of the more difficult and dynamic ways of taking ukemi (which I talked about a bit yesterday). When done right it looks like the uke's body is a paper shape being effortlessly swung 180 degrees by the tori. My previous dojo didn't do this stuff so this is a steep learning curve and your basic ukemi technique has to be very very good or it's all just a disaster and doesn't look very cool either.

After that there's an open mat which I usually don't go to because it's slightly over my limit of what I can give at the moment. Today I went though because I had things to work on. Often tends to be people practicing for gradings. Yoko-sensei is often still hanging around on side and will occasionally impart some advice by shouting a precise instruction across the room at you.  

Then I come back to the dojo at 5PM for the kids class in English at 5:30. There's a class for kids under before kids sometimes I see the end of that. It's a whole different world to regular kids class. Daisaku teaches these mainly and he's very good at it.

Tuesday evenings are with Chris-sensei, Yoko's husband and friend of my teacher in Dublin. He's a great teacher and I always enjoy his classes. The kids in English class are a mixed bunch and there are days when they really hit a high or a slump. On slump days there's a lot of lying on the ground and taking as long as possible to stand back up again when thrown.

Last thing on Tuesday is Chris' Basics Class. It usually breaking down the moves into several parts and practicing them until it builds up to the actual technique. Like Monday morning, you spend most of your time with beginners, helping them though the actions. It's a good opportunity to sharpen up your technique and build confidence. 

Chris-sensei is very clear in his instructions and understandably occasionally gets frustrated when people automatically do a move Yoko-sensei's way instead. Some people say he's more difficult to follow than Yoko-sensei but I don't think so. Maybe because parts of his style remind me of Jean-sensei's back in Dublin. Maybe.