Aikido is also a martial art practiced by my friend Neil. I went with him recently to the school where he trains, Long Island Aikiki. I drew while the class (mostly men) practiced in pairs – one man is on the offense and one is on the defense. It’s a lot about figuring out your opponents energy and moving with it to defeat him, rather than pushing against it. I had a ball drawing these guys throwing each other and flipping on to the mat. The philosophy of aikido is all about energy and movement, things that I deal with all the time in drawing — it’s called body language! Well, these guys had a ton of body language and were fun to draw. The hands seem to be very important – placement and precision of movement is key… Hagihara Sensei (sensei means teacher) was the coolest. A small Japanese man who commanded the attention of all the students; he would watch from the side and yell out instructions. Like Yoda with attitude. The best part was when he demonstrated something to the students. He would casually walk by one of them and reach out with one hand and FLIP them like a pancake. No effort – he didn’t even look at them. Now THAT’S style. This class was rather special, as it was also Hagihara Sensei’s birthday and there was a party after the class. I would love to be able to move and flip people like that now, never mind when I’m in my 70’s. Pretty suave, sensei!