A Day in the Life of a Sensei

A Sensei is many things – janitor, nurse, counsellor, accountant, career guidance coach, wailing wall, mentor, caterer, event manager, teacher and role model. Even when we don’t want to be, we are always in a gi.

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Late Bloomers Welcome

I got an email from a possible student the other day, asking if we offered adult classes, or if we would be willing to accommodate a 45 year old. I get messages like this all the time – parents and grandparents who want to either join their kid on the mat, or find something to…

The Launch of Martial Heart

It is with this in mind that I finally started an initiative that I have been thinking about for a long time. It is a small start, but I hope it will grow over time.

Vygotsky and the Sempai

Lev Vygotsky offers a way for us to understand the value of peer teaching, which appears in all good dojos around the world: the sempai-kouhai relationship.

How to look after your gi

They say the suit maketh the man, and while that’s a bit narrow, it is helpful to paraphrase it as the gi maketh the warrior. A clean gi (or do-gi) is a sign of respect, not only for oneself but towards one’s dojo and fellow training partners. To arrive in a dirty, untidy gi is to show…

Returning to the Dojo

One missed class can easily become three. Three classes becomes a month. Then six. Then a year. And then there’s a day when you open your cupboard and there is your gi, hanging up and gathering dust. Waiting. (And silently judging you.)

Five Reasons Why Kids Need Karate

As a partner piece to my perennial classic Eight Reasons Why Women Should Do a Martial Art, read on to see all the benefits a martial art can bring your kids.

Obituary: Kazuo Chiba, 1940 – 2015

Even though I no longer formally practice Aikido, it is a martial art that still matters to me, and one I often think of. I still miss it, and not just because of the hakama. Recently, T.K. Chiba shihan passed away. He was one of the few living disciples of Aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba and his son…

Dear Adult Beginners: It Gets Better

But as an adult beginner, the constant corrections are overwhelming, and sometimes humiliating. It’s hard not to feel like a failure, and to think that no one else has ever been this bad at karate, or aikido, or judo, or whatever you choose to do. But you know what? There isn’t a senior who wasn’t a junior, and who doesn’t learn every day from the junior students they teach. You’re not slowing anyone down by asking for help.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

My favourite pre-training song is Belt by Say Anything. It has the right tempo, it literally expresses a training montage, and also has the most important phrase I’ve ever had to apply to my training: This is something I have to do for myself. Martial arts is one of the most solipsistic things in the…

Something I wrote a while ago…

Here’s a piece I wrote after a particularly rough training session at Aikido. I thought it might be a good start to the blog. *** Of course its not fucking easy. Of course there’s pain. Your arm gets wrenched like a stubborn anchor from rocks, your head snaps back too fast, you hit the ground…