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Training began at 6 a.m the following morning with the pre-breakfast session (sessions were 6-8am, 10-12am and 2-4pm each day). Where would the course start? I wondered, but I needn't have as following true Yoshinkan logic it began at the beginning with Kamae or posture.Following a traditional warm-up it was time to discover that no matter how good you thought your aiki kamae was, when judged according to Yoshinkan rules it was sadly lacking!

We progressed through basic kamae to the Kihon Dosa -a series of basic postural exercises which forms the foundation of Yoshinkan Aikido.Moving from one position to another with precision and holding each difficult posture for an extended period proved really hard on the legs and a nightmare in terms of balance.Certainly a humbling experience for a dan grade like myself-streets behind some of the white belts , a good job I packed my "beginners mind"! (incidentally as a non Yoshinkai participant rightly or wrongly I decided it would be appropriate to wear a white belt for this course- how right I was!).Breakfast followed - a true communal effort by all, and the break even allowed time for a brief foray out into the village.

Following breakfast we were back on the mats for the second session in which we practised a series of basic techniques or kihon (for the aikido familiar reader these were: katate mochi yonkajo osae,yokomen uchi irimi nage, yokomen uchi hiji-ate kokyu nage and katate mochi shiho nage).Practice started at a fairly normal pace punctuated by Sensei Rubens excellent instruction, articulate sometimes funny and often supported by interesting anecdotes , but this acceptable pace was not to last!

Techniques were practised to a strict count given by Sensei and following the initial familiarisation with each one and its respective count, things began to quicken up!... and then some more....then faster still, until we were flat out for what seemed an eternity. Repetition after repetition at a count faster than we could match.Over time the lungs were straining, the legs went and the brain started to follow suit and of course technique suffered but on we went with added encouragement from Sensei and of course the odd chastisement when things got sloppy.

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