Monthly Archives: November 2014


Relaxed awareness. Remaining spirit.

Being mindful during training is important for lots of reason, to many to mention so I will look at just a few.

Zanshin is a state of mental readiness and a alert kind of relaxation. In Aikido training this takes a few shapes. Awarness of Maai {distance} is essential. Good Maai shows good Zanshin. At the point of a throw or pin it is keeping focus between Uke and Tori. For example not turning away after a technique shows that the connection is still maintained. It is also a awareness of the space around you and other Students. For both reasons for correct Budo practice and safety this is essential.

In Kenjutsu practice Zanshin is just as important. The connection between partners, awareness of space, the extension of the sword all involve Zanshin. Don’t treat the end of a Kata as the end of training. Focus is kept and pressure is not depleted. In Iaijutsu training, Zanshin becomes quite interesting. By training Solo we give ourselves another challenge. We must keep focus in the intended direction without a partner being there.

It is easy to become complacent in training as it is in daily life in general but for our practice to have any integrity we must maintain ourselves. Often this means being present in the moment and not focusing on the thousand or so things that may be going on in our lives. Budo is not for Sport and it is not for mere amusement either.

For any benefits of Budo practice to come into Daily life we must practice well. Only with constantly engaged Mindfulness in our training can we hope to truly understand what we are doing.

‘Always imagine yourself on the battlefield under the fiercest attack; never forget this crucial element of training.’ Morihei Ueshiba. 1938 ‘Budo’

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Fast Aikido

Video made by Daniel Sopko. A 2 hour session in about 8 minutes to Smooth Jazz!

Class held in The Barn at Camphill Jerpoint. We train every Thursday from 7.30 till 9ish.

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by | November 6, 2014 · 22:00


Kiai – Usually understood as a sudden exclamation of energy within an attack accompanied by a deep sound resonating from the Hara. There are other ways of understandings of Kiai such as silent Kiai.

I love Kiai. Making noise is fun, especially when swinging a stick at someone’s head. It’s one of things the first attracted me to studying Budo, in particular Katori Shinto Ryu.

But besides from the enjoyment of it, what else does it add to training?

Kiai is useful for study, it adds a quality to training which is difficult to obtain otherwise. By using Kiai we can sink our energy down into our Center, relaxing the upper body, ensuring that the movements are coming from the right place. This of course only applies when the Kiai is correct, if it is ‘throaty’ then it will likely serve the opposite effect.

The Kiai also works to unified breath with movement. Essential to training in all Budo Arts, correct breathing relaxes body and mind, with a partner in Kata training it will also help to maintain a shared rhythm and pace.

For some beginning students Kiai can help lower inhibitions. If they can get over making noise and perhaps feeling a bit foolish doing so, they can better able to receive the correct instruction. I have often seen a turning point in students, when they accept Kiai as a necessary part of training. It can do wonders for training and perhaps has further reaching repercussions. Hopefully helping build self confidence.

The Kiai is also very useful as a way to focus your attention on the moment, your partner and all of what you are doing. The Kiai in Katori Shinto Ryu is accompanied by taking the line of attack, adding greatly to the precision of technique.

The eyes Kiai, the voice Kiai, the whole person is brought into the moment. This sensation is extremely valuable to me and is certainly something I would like to pass on. People’s minds are often so distracted with the many obligations of life, taking them out of the present, always thinking of what they must do tomorrow or left undone yesterday. Budo training in general serves to bring people together in a signal moment. Training with passionate intend simply exemplifies this.

Photo edited by Jonny Whitwell of the Winchester Katori Dojo.

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Filed under Budo Concepts, Katori Shinto Ryu