Andrew V Parker's life one post at a time

Time on the mat

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Late last year a friend at work made a comment about how many days he’d trained at his Aikido Dojo over the year, and how he was hoping to train more in 2010. This prompted me to look at how much time I’d spent on the mat.


I hadn’t kept an accurate record for 2009, so I was only able to come up with a rough estimate. My training mostly consisted of classes for Aikikai Hombu Dojo Beginners Gakko, which was twice a week for about 10 months. Most weeks I also attended a Saturday morning class, although by the end of the year I was training some other week-nights as well. My best guess it that I trained about 105 days, or about 135 hours. Not bad, but at that rate it’s a long road to 10,000 hours!

Following the adage of you can’t improve what you don’t measure, I started keeping a record of my training.


‘Aikido Hours Training 2010’

48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

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‘48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration 2010’

On Saturday I attended the 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration (第48回 全日本合気道演武大会) at the Nippon Budokan, commonly call the “Embu”. It’s the biggest event of the year for Aikikai, with people coming from all over Japan (and from overseas) to attend. It’s even professionally recorded by NHK, and you can buy a 2-disc DVD set covering the teachers demonstrations (get the 2009 edition here). Eric wrote a bit more about last years event, and again this year. I thought I’d post some photos and write a little about my experience.

Updated: I’ve added another post with videos of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo Instructors.

Updated 2011/07/02: I’ve uploaded a video of the Hombu Dojo Intermediate Academy – 48th All Japan Aikido Demonstration

‘Doshu doing kotegaeshi’

Aikikai Hombu Dojo Tokyo – Beginners Gakko

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been learning Aikido at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Recently my sempai Eric, who posts some great info about Hombu Dojo, suggested I write about the “Aikido Gakko” (合気道学校 – Aikido School).

Updated: I’ve also posted about Intermediate Gakko.

The basic information about the “Aikido Gakko” is covered on the Aikiaki web site, in English and Japanese. In this post I’ll talk about some of my experiences in the beginner course (初級課程).

Updated: Applications for the 2010 summer course are now closed. Applications for the 2010 summer course are now open, so I thought I’d try to get something written sooner rather than later (this is a little rushed, I might try to clean it up later). The admissions for the beginners class are on a first-come first-served basis and the places normally fill up, so if you want to attend try to get in quick.

2009 – the year that was

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Despite my intentions, I categorically failed to update this blog in 2009. So I thought I’d give a quick list of some of the memorable moments of the year. I’m sure I’ll forget lots, this is just what comes to mind.

合気道 – Aikido

I’m happy to say started training again in Aikido at 合気会本部道場 (Aikikai Hombu Dojo) in Shinjuku in late 2008. I had stopped training in Melbourne after only 3 months, which I will always regret. I started training once a week, but now train 3 or 4 times when possible. My classes are completely in Japanese, which is another plus.

  • February – Completed my first semester of Beginners Course in Aikido Gakkou and passed my first grading, to become 4級 (4th Kyuu).
  • April – Attended the annual Aiki-Jinja Festival in Iwama, where O’Sensei lived for most of his later life.
  • May – participated in the 47th All Japan Aikido Demonstration at Nippon Budokan with my classmates from Beginners Course. I’m sure no-one watched us, but it sure was fun!
  • August – Completed my second semester of Beginners Course in Aikido Gakkou, and passed my grading for 3級 (3th Kyuu).
  • October – Began my first semester of Intermediate Course in Aikido Gakkou.
  • Trained in the regular (i.e. non-beginners) class for my first time on Christmas Day – the last day of training for the year.
  • Saw in the New Year with 越年稽古 (New Years Eve Practice) at the dojo.

日本語 – Japanese

I’ve been learning for a number of years, but I’m still intermediate level. I felt like I improved quite a bit in 2009.

  • Read my first manga series completely in Japanese – デスノート (Death Note).
  • July – Passed 日本語能力試験2級 (JLPT Level 2).
  • Began watching Japanese tv shows with Japanese subtitles. Depending on the show I understand anywhere from 50-90%.
  • Sometimes at aikido training I forget the teacher is speaking in Japanese.
  • Finally started to feel like I can speak a little. It’s still frustrating a lot of the time, speaking is definitely harder than listening and reading.

色々 – miscellaneous

  • Unfortunately not much traveling around Japan, but there’s plenty to see and do in and around Tokyo.
  • Finally bought a digital SLR – a Nikon D90
  • Hired a dog for a day.
  • Ran 10km for the Run for the Cure.

Holiday in Bali

Spent just over a week relaxing in Bali. The weather was amazing, 32 degrees and sunny every day. Thanks to Bron for finding such fantastic places to stay!

Became an uncle

Congratulations to Penny and Ken, who had their first baby, my nephew Keiran, on 2nd November.

‘My nephew Keiran Fretwell’

Tokyo Marathon 2009 Photos

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No, I didn’t run it, just took some photos.

‘Masked Runner - Tokyo Marathon 2009’

‘Chello Runner - Tokyo Marathon 2009’