NewTom, Kevin, Yuri and I wandered down to Salisbury yesterday for a days training with Iwama Ryu instructor Matthew Hill - which was absolutely brilliant.

After a rather slow start, which involved my desperately clutching for a couple of hours of extra sleep on the car journey over, we arrived at about 9:30am, got changed, and warmed up. The first of 4 hour-long classes started at 10, and Matthew announced that the theme for the day would be atemi (literally, "strikes to the body") - recognising its importance within or alongside techniques, noticing where the opportunities for atemi lie, and (an aspect which I'd not considered before) looking at where atemi can be counterproductive. For an example of the latter, striking the expose ribs at the start of shomenuchi ikkyo will lead to an automatic dropping of the elbow, which will make executing the rest of the technique more difficult.

The second class continued in the same vein, and we worked on some techniques from a strangle, plus a rather nasty throw carried out on the head (nasty).

All very interesting: the right atemi seem to be the ones which flow naturally from the technique rather than being opportunistic. Obvious in retrospect I suppose, like most of the best ideas.

The afternoon saw a weapons class in what seemed to be large disco venue (complete with mirror-ball suspended from centre). A little crowded, but we worked through basic suburi (which I was happy to feel vaguely comfortable with, even if I can't swing a sword straight to save my life) then onto partner practice. All good fun but difficult to write about - I don't really have a vocabulary for weapons yet.

Then finally we stuck around to watching a couple of guys grade (NewTom was uke for one of them) and dashed back to Brighton, to make it in time for the Sunday evening class here - which I felt great during. Post-new year abstinence seems to be making a noticeable difference to my stamina when it comes to taking lots of ukemi; by the end I was steaming and knackered, but not half-dead as I seemed to get before Christmas...

Photos from the course will probably end up on the Takemusu Aikido web site; there are a few there from a previous Matthew Hill course and from the Pat Hendricks course I went to in Caerphilly last year...