• Fri
• Dec 6, 2013
• Updated: 10:32am

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Lai See
PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 3:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 1:29pm

# A black belt after 11 months of blood, sweat and tears

## BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.

Why would you quit a good job in financial communications and a comfortable life in Hong Kong for 11 months of unremitting pain, exertion and tears? Yet this is what Rosie Slater let herself in for by leaving her well-paid job in corporate communications with an investment bank and taking herself off to Tokyo where she enrolled in the senshusei course, which is an intensive aikido course originally developed in the early 1960s to train the Tokyo Metropolitan Riot Police.

The course, which practises Yoshinkan Aikido, was opened to foreigners in the early 1990s. The course website notes that while previous aikido experience is highly recommended, it is not a prerequisite. "It is a very physical course that is difficult for both the experienced and novice to undertake."

Slater had no experience in either aikido. Nor did she speak Japanese. The first six months, she says, were "awful, awful, awful". In the blog she kept while doing the course, one entry entitled "snot and tears" describes her struggle to get through a critical test early on.

A normal session might consist of doing 180 press-ups or 800 backward break-falls. Classes were from 7.30am to 2pm, five days a week. At the end of a session, students would be bleeding from their exertions. She described doing 400 sit-ups as a relief from other more rigorous exertions. But she now has a black belt and did an extra four months to qualify as an instructor and, towards the end of her time, was teaching in Japanese.

The course attracted international attention after award-winning Oxford poet Robert Twigger did the course and wrote a book about it called Angry White Pyjamas. Slater read this some years ago and the idea nagged at her. In the years following the financial crisis, she wondered about her choice of job in the finance industry and this, together with her advancing years (33), convinced her that she could put it off no longer. The experience, she says, has been "transformational". "It made me feel very strongly how different your life can be when you are doing something that makes you feel good on a daily basis."

Clearly, she says, a course like that gives you confidence in your own ability and tolerance for pain and discomfort. "Before, I was very afraid of not having a job, an income and all the props that make you feel more secure and are afraid to lose. I think once you lose that fear, you are able to control much more what you do rather than just responding to a need or a fear."

Now back in Hong Kong and reunited with her husband, she wants to pass on some of this hard-earned experience. Slater has already started teaching children, and she's going to teach families at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. For some years, alumni of the senshusei course have been to a seminar in Japan to demonstrate how the principles of aikido can improve professional management skills. This is something she hopes to bring to corporates in Hong Kong.

How clean are incinerators?

Despite the proliferation of news about different technologies for treating Hong Kong's municipal solid waste, the Environmental Protection Department shows no sign of shifting from its initial plan. This is to install a large incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau, near Lantau, and then barge the toxic ash to be dumped in the ash lagoon near Tuen Mun. The pro-incinerator lobby insists that the modern incinerators give off very low emissions compared to their predecessors.

An Italian study in 2010 concluded that mothers exposed to air pollution from incinerators caused preterm deliveries of babies. That is, they were born within 37 weeks, which can lead to death and neurological disorders. A study in Spain in 2012 said there was a statistically higher risk among men and women alike of death from cancers in towns situated near incinerators and hazardous waste treatment plants.

A French study in 2010 confirms "a link between the risk of urinary tract birth defects and exposure to [municipal solid waste incinerator] emissions in early pregnancy". A report in the 1990s by the Belgian government on the Sint-Niklaas incinerator detailed a litany of horrific cancers in children.

Given this track record, we'd like to be assured that we are not going to get all this in Hong Kong.

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

## Share

9

According to Voltaire, a long dispute means that both sides are wrong. So, KwunTongBypass and dynamco, both of you are wrong.
Are you guys one and the same person?
AIR POLLUTION FROM INCINS & REPRODUCTIVE OUTCOMES
Conclusion: Maternal exposure to INCIN emissions even at very low levels associated w/preterm delivery
CANCER MORTALITY IN TOWNS IN THE VICINITY OF INCINS
Conclusion: Results support statistically signiﬁcant higher risk men/women alike dying from all cancers in towns near INCINs specif higher excess risk in respect of tumors stomach, liver, pleura, kidney, & ovary.
NATIONAL INST PUBLIC HEALTH SAITAMA, JAPAN.
Conclusion: Study shows a peak-decline in risk w/distance fm MSW INCINs for infant deaths /infant deaths with all congenital malformations.
MATERNAL RESIDENCE NR MSW INCINS/ RISK OF URINARY TRACT BIRTH DEFECTS.
Conclusion: study confirms previous observation ofa link between Urinary tract birth defects & exposure to MSW emissions in early pregnancy/illustrates effect of bias on risk estimates of env health impacts.
INCINS: THE EFFECT ON CHILDREN Dr J Thompson
Sint Niklaas INCIN showed blood/glandular cancers appeared in KIDS app 5 yrs after INCIN started This preceded increase in adult cancers by 7 yrs Adults cancers showed a 5-fold increase over 20 years. Knox found a 2x childhood cancers & leukaemias within 5km of MSW INCINs greatly exceeding risk around non-combustion urban sites.
CANCER INCIDENCE NEAR MSW INCINS IN GB
Over the two stages of the study a statistically significant (P<0.05) decline in risk w/ distance from INCINs for all cancers combined, stomach, colorectal, liver & lung cancer
Any study about Tsing Yi, Mr. Google University Professor??
you are completely nuts + seemingly devoid of any sense
go jump off the Tsing Yi bridge and do us all a favour
make sure not to land on your head or you might survive
were you still watching P orn at 3am in the morning ?
that would seem to be the level of your competence
this also just shows how much SCMP needs an online moderator to get rid of
petty trolls + trash like this
Since dumbna ss apparently lives in Tsing Yi he should go and stand next to the Chemical Waste Treatment incinerator on Tsing Yi and breathe deeply three times a day for 30 minutes each time - then the pestilence will self expire
Hey Prof. Google, woke up this morning enjoying crisp clean air in a European country, not missing the white steam plume from an incinerator some 5 km away, and when I saw your diatribe I laughed so hard I almost siht in my pants! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
excellent
stay there and do us all a favour dxckhead moron
hope you enjoy the Romanian Mental Rehab retreat
no-one else would let you past immigration
No need to share your experience with immigration after your Romania trip – I am not going there, and the UK immigration wished me a nice stay two days ago! Returning some advice to you, maybe you should join the Clean Air Network in Hong Kong, although I am not sure if they accept foul-mouthed, insult-barking, irresponsible, “Google Research Parrots” as members, and if they do, I would not be surprised that no one with brains is listening to them.
You and Howard please do not forget to report the results of the mission to Europe of the New Territories Concern Group. Also, hope both of you will soon take a tour at the new Tuen Mun Sludge Incinerator. You may enhance your “expertise” by finally seeing one of those toxin spewing monsters in real life.
Greetings from incinerator-smart Europe.
is this guy nuts ?
if you do not like what the journalist wrote then don't bother reading it you duffer.
It seems you have either no common sense or are a Government mole with no salient other option.
Incinerators are proven to kill children and adults alike with increased proximity to the burner.
Incinerators by necessity come hand in hand with landfill expansions since they produce 30% of toxic ash by weight of what is burned so any incinerator here would require an 8 billion\$ man made island off the coast of Lantao as the new ash lagoon.
The bag houses cannot catch PM1 and PM2.5 which particulates are proven to kill people. FACT you moron.
A simple search online of 'incinerator death' reveals a torrent of information which HK Govt apparently cannot find or choose to ignore in their tunnel vision
Meanwhile the Air Products plasma gasifier in UK will be online within 6 months whilst the Peterborough Tetronics unit is about to start.
Gee, & all this info from Google - blah thering fool.
You must have a suicide death wish and no family you care about .
myweb.tiscali.co.uk/freeblackpark/sain/children.htm
INCINERATOR blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah BAD INCINERATOR blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah T O X I C Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah N O T H I N G N E W blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah VERRRY BAD INCINERATOR blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ITALIAN STUDIES (the "experts" from Naples??) blah blah SPANISH STUDIES blah blah MORE STUDIES blah AND STILL NOTHING NEW blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah CANCER !!!!! blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah DIOXINS blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah VERY D A N G E R O U S blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah BETTER TECHNOLOGY BUT NONE PROVEN blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah GOOGLE ON GOOGLE ON GOOGLE ON blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah bl