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I went to Iwata budo supply store recently. The real name is Iwata Shokai.
In aikido we usually call the uniform a keikogi. In judo they call it a judogi - I suppose because they use the gi for other things (shiai and kata) as well as for normal keiko.
I used to buy my keikogis near Suidobashi station. Years ago there were many budo supply stores around there. The Kodokan (the world headquarters of judo) is close by. Most of those stores have closed down now.
My first keikogi from around there had a crazy-looking Daruma on the label but after that I usually went to Iwata. And I got my first hakama from there too. At that time they had a little shop right on the corner of the main crossing in Suidobashi.
That shop was knocked down many years ago. Now you have to go to Shin-Okubo, the next station to Shinjuku in Tokyo. It's a very cosmopolitan area. There are many ethnic shops and restaurants. You can buy photos of Korean pop stars there, or get dubious-looking phone cards cheap.
To get to Iwata you turn right out of the station and cross the street, then turn left down a narrow road towards the Lotte chewing gum factory.
Iwata is a small building on the left just before the factory. You slide open the door and step inside. It's very small - there's only room for three or four customers at a time. There is a rack of wooden weapons on the left and shelves upon shelves of keikogis and hakamas. There is the distinctive smell of new cotton keikogis.
Shochugeiko: Training conducted during the hottest months of the summer in order to cultivate physical and mental strength, a Kodokan tradition since 1896.
Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo
It's 35 degrees Celsius today in Tokyo - 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Yesterday it was 38 - over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity is high. There is what's called the urban heat island effect. It is hot. Everyone starts to feel lethargic and low in energy - natsu bate (夏バテ) in Japanese. But the solution - air conditioning - is even worse. Trains and shops and restaurants are all cold. Humans are gradually being shepherded away from nature.
Japanese people have always had a close relationship with nature. The passing of a year has very clear phases and the rhythm of the seasons is marked with traditional events and customs: like cherry blossom viewing in spring and moon viewing in the autumn.
So the Japanese people have developed traditional ways to fight the heavy summer heat. Many houses have wind-chimes (furin - 風鈴). Even a tiny sound gives the impression - real or imagined - of a slight breeze. Then there is a custom of exchanging summer greetings cards. Some people draw their own cards in watercolours or ink and wash (sumi-e) and send them to friends and relatives with a polite enquiry about their health in the heat. And there's a special day in August (doyo no ushi no hi) to eat eel (unagi) to get stamina and to protect against
I have only taught aikido to children very very occasionally. But this week I was asked to teach a community self-defence class. I wasn't sure how it was going to go...
I have always thought that judo and karate were more suitable than aikido for young children. Some children like the grappling part of judo and some like the throwing part; some children like the kata part of karate and some like the kumite (sparring) part. And maybe the concept of no winners and no losers in aikido is a little difficult to catch. Anyway this class was self-defence so philosophy wasn't a problem!
So I checked out aikiweb and I found some useful information. The teachers on aikiweb who are experienced in teaching children have a lot of knowledge. You can search the forums for "teaching children."
Wind Forest Fire Mountain 風林火山 (furinkazan) was the motto of Takeda Shingen.
Takeda was a Daimyo in the warring states period of Japanese history. He was also known as the Tiger of Kai. He had a legendary rivalry with Uesugi Kenshin - the Dragon of Echigo - and fought him five times in battle and once in single combat (Takeda used a tessen - an iron fan - against Uesugi's katana). Takeda Shingen is still enormously admired and popular in Japan (in fact they both are). You can still go to onsens - hot springs - where he went to recover after battles - the minerals in the water are supposed to help sword wounds to heal faster.
His motto, which was on his war banners, was: swift as the wind, silent as a forest, fierce as fire, immovable as a mountain (move as swiftly as the wind, be as silent as a forest, attack as fiercely as fire, defend as immovably as a mountain).
The phrase originally came from the Art of War by Sun Tzu. They were Takeda Shingen's principles of strategy - long-range planning - and also his principles of tactics - how to fight in a battle.
These four concepts have parallels with the elements. In Buddhism the elements were considered to be earth, water, fire and air. Surprisingly these four elements (with the addition of ether) are the same as the elements in classical Greek thought (and the same four elements were associated with the four humours or personality types: melancholic, phlegmatic, choleric and sanguine
If you don't believe in magic you might want to stop reading this now.
I'm not talking about the Magic of an Aikido Throw. The magic I saw when I saw my teacher Asoh Sensei in his seventies effortlessly tossing a big ex-marine around like a slice of bread.
That wasn't magic. That was kokyu ryoku.
And I'm not talking about the Magic of the Disappearing Aikidoka. I went to a summer camp in La Colle-sur-Loup in the south of France in the eighties with Yamada Sensei and Tamura Sensei. One of my roommates training beside me whispered to me, "Hey, my partner keeps disappearing!" So I watched and sure enough at the moment of the strike my friend blinked and his partner used that instant to disappear behind him. Maybe that was what ninja used to give the impression of invisibility.
That wasn't magic. That was timing and misdirection.
And I'm not talking about the Magic of the Healed Wrist. Once I had injured my wrist and training was extremely painful. On Wednesday evenings I was the uke for Arikawa Sensei for two classes at the Aikikai hombu dojo. Arikawa Sensei was the best teacher at the hombu dojo and I was his uke for many years. He was a feared teacher and his waza were unforgiving. So that week I taped my wrist visibly and hoped he would take the hint. No chance. That night he did mostly kote gaeshi and shiho nage. And mostly on the injured wrist. I wasn't really surprised that he attacked the wrist. When I started taking the ukemi for him in 1990 my hair was