From a brave student of mine


I was attacked in my bed when I was 17 as I lay asleep. I escaped without major harm, but a few months later, I took up martial arts.

At 17 I had had no training in self defence.  Now, at 26 I’m learning Aikido techniques and positive attitudes in case it ever happens again. 

So what happens when you have no weapons, no training, nothing but yourself to keep you alive?

I’ll tell you for sure that at that moment when someone grabs your neck with bad intention, you are not thinking, “Lets talk about this rationally” or “how am I going to get my arm around this bit to get to this bit”. Thinking is human, but when you are fighting for your life, you don’t think, you are no longer human. You are a creature who wants to live. 

 You lose all concept of time or space. Those of you who have been in car crashes or near misses may understand.

 For me, those minutes when I was fighting, seemed like hours.  All thoughts were lost.  Only a feeling remained, and that was, “stay alive”. Whatever it takes stay alive. I became like an animal. I know what it is like to let go of all the structure and just be.  For those moments I was a taloned, clawed, fanged creature with wide eyes and occasionally enough breath in my lungs to scream in his ear, a war cry, most animals roar when they fight, I roared.

I kicked, bit, scratched, wriggled, and never stayed still, because staying still meant death.  I found strength from somewhere else.  It’s a strength I had never felt before but which has stayed with me ever since. When I’m thousands of miles from home or when I’m cycling up a big hill, or on my 2000th sword cut, this strength is what keeps me going.  If you think you have nothing left, if you think you are exhausted, think again.  You are stronger than you know.

The fight paid off and my attacker fled. After the struggle I was left with some physical reminders, blood blisters on my neck, bruises, scratches, physical exhaustion. Fortunately, nothing else. Mentally though, I was terrified. 

It’s why wild rabbits run when you get near them, it’s why birds fly when you approach.

But just in case a day comes when I can’t fly or run from a conflict, I’m kitting myself out with a suit of aikido armour, so I can walk this earth with the calm of a panther who knows its own strength.

Shudokan Aikido teaches personal safety based on actual experience and real application, theory is just not enough.