Thursday, 3 July 2008

I'm not here

Someone asked me in the offline world whether I still keep writing this blog or quit blogging for good. Well, I only write messages like this here:

In case the link to the continued blog is not clearly visible in my previous post (which Szabi also mentioned) please follow the link below to get there:

In addition to my posts, you will find there posts by my friend Connor as well.

In case you simply want to subscribe to that blog, you can do it using our RSS feed or email subscription.

Thursday, 15 May 2008


I have several announcements to make.

1. The blog got an 8.3/10 rating from editors and I'm proud of this.

2. I've submitted my PhD thesis (at last :D) so now I'll be back with posts.

3. The new posts won't be posted here. I decided to move to because I'm working on that site anyway, and I think it will be better if the blog is displayed in a context where more aikido related stuff is present. I hope it will not be a big problem for people reading this blog. I'll keep writing in the same style, only the place will change. Please follow me there ;).

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Ueshiba Mitsuteru got married

I've just read in AikidoJournal:

Letter of Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba to all aikikai affiliated organizations:

April 20, 2008

Dear Sir/Madam

I hope this letter finds you in the best of health.

I am very happy to inform you that my son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba, was married to Miss. Keiko Kusano on March 2nd of this year.

Your continued and good favor on the young couple would be much appreciated.

Sincerely Yours,

Moriteru Ueshiba
Aikido Doshu (original signed)

Congratulations! I guess they are happier now than in the picture below :).

I'm looking forward to hearing from the birth of the fifth doshu :).

By the way, Mitsuteru was born in the same year as me.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A bit of delay in posting

The deadline of submitting my PhD thesis is very close so I need to focus on that these days and don't have much time to post to the blog.

I'll be back soon, some of my new posts are in a half-ready state but I want to read them once more before posting.

I'll write about cherry trees and topless aikido soon :).

Please be patient until that ;).

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Relative time

Why is that when you go somewhere you haven't been before it seems to take much longer than to come back from there? Why is it that when you go somewhere for the first time it seems much longer than the second, third, etc. times?

Last week I went to a school to give away a Children's aikido poster. I didn't know the area and it seemed to take at least thirty minutes to get there (I wasn't watching my watch but I looked at my map frequently thinking "is it still so far"?). Today (at the time writing this post at home) I went to that school again because last week it was completely empty (it turned out that they had half term and noone was around). It took me 15 minutes only and I wasn't walking any faster than the previous time.

The same thing happened when we were looking for flats to move into (which happened several times over our four years in London). It's certainly not only me who finds the first walk longer. But why is that?

Are we more alert to make sure we don't miss the destination and, at next time(s), we know the way already so we can think about our own business which makes time pass quickly? Maybe it's the same relativity Einstein described once.

"A man sits with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems shorter than a minute. But tell that same man to sit on a hot stove for a minute, it is longer than any hour. That's relativity."
Relativity - Which one is hotter?
If the above logic is right and I try to apply it to my aikido studies then the idea is that I should never experience this slow-fast passing of time. I'm supposed to be alert at all times, "be present" as others call it. Indeed, I don't really experience time differences between doing a technique first and second but I guess it would be a pretty good exagaration ("lie" as others would call it :)) if I concluded that it's because I'm alert all the time :). That is the aim, to be alert, but sometimes I tend to sink to comfort and stop discovering new technical bits when we are practicing. This happened on Wednesday as well: we had a beginner and I tried to make fun of ryokatadori (grabbing the gi at both shoulders) because she had a t-shirt on and not a gi jacket (uwagi). It wasn't funny at all when Karesz immediately shouted to stop that and start showing the beginner how to do the technique and start focusing on connection with my partners (it was a technique done in groups). I was pretty ashamed of myself and came home disappointed (again, in myself) but I understood and learned the lesson. From time to time, it happens that I go to trainings and let time pass quickly but there's always something that awakes me sooner or later (a grading date, if nothing better) and I realise that I should use my (and others') time to study harder, improve more and don't let time fly away.

Next time if I notice that a training (even if it's only an hour long) is too short I will need to think about what changes I have to make. Even one hour should be enough to get tired of properly practicing, I guess it's not a coincidence that the Hombu classes last an hour, too.

So I still can't properly answer my initial questions but at least I gave a couple of thoughts to relativity theory at an aikido training :). Let me know though if you can answer the above questions.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A friend of mine (also the master of the dojo where I started aikido) has come up with an idea of creating a website that explains and illustrates basic aikido principles, movements and techniques to beginners. I joined the site team... :)

The basic idea is that although aikido can't be learned from photos of videos, these can be used to train the mind or to understand and digest instructions of your aikido classes if there are proper explanations and instructions accompanied with these photos and videos. So we started creating short presentations explaining the very basics of aikido, for example, tegatana (hand-sword), mae ukemi (forward roll), hanmi (guard/ready position aka. half-stance), etc. The presentations contain photos, illustrations as well as explanations as to what is in the pictures and why what we see is important to understand (see picture below).

Tegatana illustrations at

To properly set up the site and to go live, first we will need some testers (the creative manager came up with the expression Test Pilots :)) who provide useful feedback, possibly some suggestions, for the site and its contents. So this is an advertising post now, if you would like to help us, learn something and get discounts later, please visit and register into the test team.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Aikido3D review

A couple of months ago a friend showed me the Aikido3D software. I hesitated a lot until I actually started writing about it (which I'd been planning since I got to know about its existence) because I have mixed feeling about it (and so have my friends).

It gives you aikido techniques demonstrated by a skilled master (Donovan Waite). You can watch the demonstrations in 3D, you can stop or slow down any time, you can change viewpoints and there is also some commentary to the techniques. The 'videos' can be grouped by they type of attack, technique or kyu grades. There are buttons to turn features on and off, for example, whether to show the footsteps of tori (aka. nage, who throws the other) during the execution of a technique. You can also switch between hakama and simple gi and you can even turn off either the display of tori or uke. There is another option to turn on the "center radials" which show the centres of practicing partners. You can also adjust the playing speed and turn on/off commentaries.

All this is nice but there's always a question in my mind when using aikido3d: what is it good for? Why is this needed? I understand it's different because of the 3D display but why is that better than series of videos?

I think the main problems that made me think about the possible purpose of the software are the commentaries and the limitations of the display. To explain the latter, I can adjust the camera's position, rotate around the aikidoka left to right or right to left, I can zoom in or out of the centre of the scene, change between top, front and 'follow' views but I just wanted to grab the screen with the mouse pointer and rotate the view freely - left to right, up and down, zoom to one certain thing I wanted to understand. Maybe it's just my personal preferences, it's not really a crucial problem.
However, my main concerns are the commentaries: they don't say much to a beginner and don't say enough to an advanced student about the techniques. For example, comments such as "to drop Uke's center, Nage must extend and relax his arm" are exactly like this. It reminds me of a childhood tale about the girl who was asked to "bring something but don't bring anything" to the King*.

The interesting bit with Aikido3D, however, is that when you slow down you can see the minor mistakes and problems. I was watching hanmi handachi kaitennage and I was like "Ha! He's losing tegatana now! Ha! Again!". It was even funnier when I "turned on the footprints". Sometimes I could see the irimis and tenkans in the line of attack as I was taught but, particularly for longer techniques, the footprints just looked like blood splatters on the mat :).

Maybe I'm a bit too much of a perfectionist but I would have preferred the digitalising of the moves of top shihans such as Yamada Yoshimitsu who's in the "special thanks to" section of the software. Waite shihan is really good but I don't know much about him and would have trusted the demonstrations by very top masters more.

A note to myself: as a technique can't be done twice exactly the same way to be 'perfect' (O'Sensei famously refused demonstrating exactly the same technique once again after being asked so because the first photo might not have been good enough) and different technical bits are usually emphasized in different demonstrations so I think I keep training and reading about aikido but don't watch the same recording 100 times unless it is really instructional with loads of explanations and helping instructions.

My rating is 3/5, what do you think?

*the girl brought a bird but she released it just before giving it to the King. She brought something but didn't bring anything...