Had a fab day today. After several attempts at rising early enough, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 7:30 and meet Steve and NewTom at Brighton station, in time to get the train up to London and go to class at Airenjuku in SOAS. The session was fab, lots of ukemi, some interesting techniques (mainly projections), I got to train with everyone there (err I think) and was reminded that after concentrating on bokken work in recent months, my jo skills (if there ever were any) have suffered significantly. Saw a few familiar faces (proving my existence in the process, I hope) and lots of new ones. Memo to self: you really ought to do this sort of thing more often.
Then it was off to the British Museum with Steve, Katie, Joh, John and Jack, for the exhibition of Japanese robotics, which was ace. We were shown demonstrations of Karakuri dolls from the 17th century by Shyobei Tamaya, whose family have been building them for 9 generations. The sheer intricacy of the devices, coupled with their physical nature (real-world things like this are so much more impressive to me than code), was incredible: of particular fascination was the archer, who would draw 4 arrows from his quiver, one after the other, nocking the string of his bow and firing at a target several feet away and invariably hitting it. The doll would pick up the individual arrows, hold them (it had a working movable thumb), and even moved its head slightly to sight down the arrow before firing.
This was followed by a demonstration of current robotics, as an Aibo performed for us. Interesting, as I'd never seen one in the flesh (err I mean metal, or plastic, or whatever shiny substance it is that they're made from) before, but completely outclassed by the strings and cogs of the clockwork Karakuri.
Train home, a bath to scrape out some of the mornings sweat followed, and then out to Wai Kika Moo Kau in the Laines with Ju, for some of the best vegetarian food I've ever had.