Sunday 29 July 2012

Martial Arts in Bideford Buzz

This month – The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-defence!

If you happen to live in North Devon, you can grab a printed copy of the local Bideford magazine, The Bideford Buzz, at a variety of locations. If not, you can download a PDF copy here: In July I began writing a monthly column which has a fairly freewheeling ‘martial arts’ theme. Of course, since I am an Aikido teacher, you won’t be surprised to know that Aikido is likely to be one of my main topics of discussion. However, this month (August, 2012) I’ve branched out a bit by taking a look at Bartitsu?

Bar-what-su? you ask…?

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes you may have come across the name minus the first ‘t’. In The Adventure of the Empty House, Holmes says: “I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me.”

Contrary to what you may have thought, Bar(t)itsu was not an invention of Conan Doyle’s fertile imagination. It was a real fighting art which was taught to gentlemen in London. These days there are even some Bartitsu clubs and associations that attempt to revive the art (see, for example, I can’t promise that we’ll be doing any authentic Bartitsu in our Aikido Club in Bucks Cross. Even so, I must admit that I am tempted to encourage students to dress somewhat more elegantly. Never mind those wrinkly white gis. Possibly a smart blazer, straw boater and silver-topped cane might add a touch of class to the proceedings…?

Monday 9 July 2012

Japanese pronunciation for Aikido

A couple of my students have asked me where they can find a reference to the Japanese terms we use in Aikido. These include not only the names of the techniques but also the Japanese expressions we use when asking someone to practise with us or thanking them after practising. Not all Aikido clubs use Japanese terms at the start and end of practice. However, at the Hartland (North Devon) dojo, we do.

At the start of practice we say Onegaishimasu (お願いします) which is a polite term of request that can be translated, approximately, as 'please'. At the end of practice, we say, Domo arigatou gozaimashita (どうもありがとうございました) which means 'Thank you very much' and, being in the past tense, is used at the end of practice only.

If you want to work on your pronunciation, I recommend the excellent AikiWeb guide to Aikido Japanese. This includes short audio files so you can hear the words spoken:

If you want to take your Japanese studies even further, there are lots of free resources on the Internet. For a gentle introduction to basic spoken and written (hiragana) Japanese, I'd suggest the video series Irasshai from Georgia Public Broadcasting.