Occasionally I’m awoken at 6am by the ringing sound my phone makes when I have an email and it’s Cots liking something I’ve posted. This, I believe, constitutes an abusive relationship.




Kan – intuition.

Something’s bugging me. Two conversations. The usual nonsense that I’m trying to make sense of. It’s been bugging me off and on for a couple of months now.

Omote – in front. In budo this means two things. The first simply means to execute a technique which goes in front of your partner. The second is the obvious meaning of the technique which anyone can pick up from watching or doing it.

Ura – behind. Executing a technique by going behind your partner or the things about the kata or technique which are not obvious and which can only be communicated instructor to student verbally or by some other special means. The ura is the okuden: the hidden teachings which can sometimes be diametrically different from the omote.

So conversation one, Jboy goes to the bar and she talks about having a rough time at university. Fine. Conversation one Jboy goes to the bar and she starts talking about her mum offering to pay for a boob job. She’s always been insecure about her breasts.

This is one of those “trying to clarify my own thoughts” posts, don’t expect coherence.

I suppose what I want to say to her is that she obviously feels secure enough talking to me about her insecurities. The later one: She knows how I feel about her and she knows how I feel about breasts; my breast fetish is something that we talk about everytime we meet. Logically therefore I presume that she must understand how amazingly positively I view her breasts.

This is one of those conversations that we have where I feel that there is a subtext. It’s very Japanese, the omote of the conversation is that we’re talking in the abstract about how fake boobs are crap and she doesn’t need one. The ura of the conversation is her drawing my attention to her boobs and receiving compliments and confirmation that I’m still interested. This is why she, knowing how I feel about her and about boobs, sits opposite me and leans forward knowing full well that it takes all of my will power not to have a damn good oggle and that given half a chance she would be topless in seconds.

Another level is her letting me into her insecurities, allowing herself to be vulnerable and me putting her at ease. Hopefully.

Like we have this conversation of which the omote is about porn and men dominating women in porn, which neither of us like and how terrible this is. The ura of the conversation is her asking how I’d treat her and me telling her that I have no wish to dominate her. I’m going to stick a note about omote and ura at the start.

I think. All of this is kan – intuition.

What’s bugging me is that she was away at university and having a rough time and I only found out about it afterwards when every fiber of my being wants to look after her and make her happy and secure. It’s this pattern of open up, then shut out, open up, shut out. If she’s going to come to be for support, great, but she should let me support her. I want her to know that it’s okay to be insecure around me; she doesn’t have to be the bright, bubbly , extroverted social butterfly. She can just relax and be herself and actually I’d quite like that.


So it’s been about two weeks since I was promoted to shodan. I’ve actually tried writing about Aikido since then and it just doesn’t work out somehow. I’m so glad that I took shodan, I’m so glad that I passed shodan that I don’t know how to express it and not for any kind of celebratory or egotistical reasons but more that passing shodan feels like I’ve……..

There’s the stumbling block about writing about this “Feels like”…… Let me put it in simple terms: I’ve reread everything on the spiritual aspects of the martial arts that I own. I feel like a circle has been made, a gap bridged, a fractured thing made complete, something brought to rest peacefully. Completion. Wholeness.

When you tell people that you practice budo usually they come out with something like, “So you could really beat me up, then!” with that grin and I’ve had this question and seen this grin a couple of times over the past week and I’ve found myself responding with a polite smile. Both times what I was thinking is that this is a rather shallow view of something as profound as budo.

When I first started budo after all the bullying and the general shit of my childhood I was indeed looking for ways of beating people up but I was also looking for something that would give me inner strength because I felt quite weak and I found that. I found that in what other budoka had written, some of them ancient, some modern. I read everything from Hagakure, The Book of Five Rings, The Life Giving Sword, Bushido Shoshinshu, right down to Dave Lowry’s work and Kensho Furuya’s work. This I suppose should all go under the heading of philosophy but a lot of it is psychology.

For quite a lot of my late teens and twenties this was basically the system of thought that I built my life on and it’s a system of thought that has a deep profundity. For whatever reason, I suspect that the debacle over 1st kyu had a lot to do with it, I put all that to one side and looked for answers in other places, like western philosophy.

Now, though, I feel like I’m back on this path or rather that this path is now the most relevant one to my identity. I look in the mirrors when I’m in the dojo and there’s a guy there who, at this point, has spent half of his life practicing budo, reading about it, doing his best to absorb its lessons not just in a physical combative sense, but also as a way of working on and improving his character and I kind of like what I see. It brings a deep feeling of peace. I feel like I’ve overcome a huge hurdle and I’m quietly satisfied by that.

I suppose I feel that I’ve now got a greater sense of who I am. I recognise that person in the mirror a bit more.



I am so kicking arse in my life right now. Some more sleep would be good though. I think tonight I’m just going to come home from training, eat, shower and then go to bed. I can only genius properly after a decent night’s sleep.

Yes, I used “genius” as a verb.

I’m allowed to do that.

Deal with it.

So there.



Bm……….Bm..Bm, Bm. B…M. Bm. She flirts with me for months and I ask her out and then she rejects me and from thence on ignores me………..Then tonight she smiles at me across the bar and I smile back as I’m on the way back with my drinks. Later on she says, “Serve that guy” and I’m like “Serve that guy?” “Yeah, serve that guy” “That guy has a name you know” and she giggles in that Barbara Windsor way that she giggles. Before that one of the regulars waved to me and Jboy and shouted across the bar “are you behaving yourselves?” and I shouted back “Of course not!” and she smiled.

An opening?

Then Dakota messages me and Jboy on our group on FB. About a week back I realised that if I message on this group about films and games she responds thus ending the whole ignoring me thing. Jboy can’t believe that she messaged us……….I find this funny; I’ve got her to talk because I understand her.




Long story short: I passed.

My body is a wreck; everything aches and I’m shattered. Literally I’m hobbling about.

How do I feel? I don’t think it’s sunk in yet so the best I can do at the moment is: it feels really sore.

One story of many: Sensei got up to take ukemi for me, which shouldn’t really happen but there was a shortage of people to take ukemi. Sensei has this thing about making atemi well, like atemi should be, it should disrupt the attack and make uke do something to protect themselves allowing you to do the technique. So I see Sensei coming towards me and a thought flashes through my mind: I’m just going to hit him. He comes in with a strike I move and I’m not even focusing on his attack, I’m focusing on smashing him in the face.

Naturally he knows it’s coming because it’s not like he didn’t train me but he wasn’t really expecting the ferocity of it and he only just manages to block it, he’s leaning right back to absorb the impact, his posture is gone, his balance is gone, he lets out this growling groan and I’m making shihonage  and I’m just at that point where you start to cut down and I hear him whisper, “Good!”.

That was actually about two notches below what I’m capable of. One notch higher is training with B and R which is about 95% real, with kiai, real atemi and the emotional intensity of an actual fight. The top notch adds only the intention to actually injure, not just throw and pin or subdue but to actually finish the opponent in one technique, to actually destroy. I wouldn’t be making shihonage to throw, I’d be adjusting it to dislocate the shoulder or break the elbow.

I’m still quite keyed up.