THE older man grabs the young woman by the neck. He throws her down, hard. Thwup! Her body hits the floor with a loud, flat, wet sound, like a lump of damp flour being smacked on a breadboard.

The woman rises to her feet. Although she’s slight of stature, not a ripple of fear passes across her features. Her face remains as untroubled as a moonlit lake at midnight.

She faces the man. Once more they grapple. Again his arm is round her neck. Her legs swing out from under her, spinning through the air like windmill sails.

Thwup! She hits the floor.

This happens repeatedly. Relentlessly. And I stand in the corner of the room watching, along with 20 students, all eager to imitate the brutal-looking moves inflicted on the young woman.

I’m at the Blood, Sweat and Tears gym in Falkirk, and the man we have all come to see – the man repeatedly thwupping the woman to the floor – is Kamimura Kazuyasu Shihan, one of the world’s most venerated martial arts teachers. (The term Shihan is an honorific title used to denote a master instructor.)

Kamimura trains his students in the ways of aikido, a relatively modern martial art.

Its moves may look and sound savage to the untrained eye and ear, but I am assured that what I am witnessing is actually a peaceable way of resolving a fight. Certainly Moe Fuchiwaki, the young woman who I watch being thrown repeatedly to the ground by Kamimura, doesn’t appear to be covered in any visible bruises. And she always bounces to her feet friskily enough, eager once more to be tossed like a salad.

Moe and her colleague Asako Inoue are both students of Kamimura, and train with him in their Osaka base in Japan.

They’re here to mark the official sanctioning of the Aikido Scotland Buikukai, a school for teaching aikido buikukai, a specific strand of aikido.

This is the first school of its kind north of the border, which makes it a rather big deal in the local world of martial arts.

The fact that a bunch of Scottish students are getting the chance to enjoy a private lesson with Kamimura, to watch his fluid moves up close and personal, is clearly an invaluable opportunity.

To clarify how big a deal this is, imagine an amateur dramatic society is busily rehearsing their annual Christmas panto in the local church hall when Robert De Niro strides in and tells the gang he’s got some helpful suggestions regarding how the bloke playing Widow Twankey can bring added authenticity to the role. That’s what it’s like when Kamimura is in the room with you.

During a break in his lesson, I attempt to ask the great man a few questions. Unfortunately his English is fairly basic, while the only time I’ve ever come close to understanding the Japanese language was a few years back when I watched an old Godzilla movie with exceedingly dubious subtitles.

Luckily Kamimura has a hand-held translator which he uses to bridge our linguistic divide, though as gizmos go, it’s not quite up to the standard of those Godzilla subtitles.

I ask him why students should choose to train in aikido rather than one of the many other martial arts available, such as karate and kung fu.

“Aikido is to strengthen the mind,” he says. “It doesn’t work well unless you are mentally strong.”

The belief system that Kamimura follows derives from a distinctly Oriental tradition, of course. Yet here we are in a mustard-coloured hall in Falkirk, just a stone’s throw from the local McDonald’s and KFC outlets. Does he think something is lost in translation when he teaches aikido to western devotees?

“No, no,” says Kamimura, shaking his head and smiling benignly. “We should always value the connection between people. Aikido is not about what can be done by one person alone. It is what can be achieved between people.”

He also tells me aikido isn’t about violence and anger. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“If you have been doing aikido for a long time, then your heart becomes very kind,” he explains. “With aikido the most important thing is how to gently lead people towards a peaceful solution to their problems.”

Later, when I do some further reading on the subject, it becomes clear to me that this is indeed the desired outcome in any aikido tussle.

The way of aikido was originally introduced by Morihei Ueshiba, who died in 1969. The moves were created to provide a robust defence against physical attacks, but also to ensure that the attacker wasn’t injured too badly. (Or at all.)

Aikido is conflict resolution rather than conflict itself. In a world of Trump trumpeting, bellicose Brexit behaviour and screamers, shouters, sneerers and snarlers of every stripe, it stands out as a rather passive and conciliatory approach to living with others.

Saying all that, once the break is over, there is still a lot of thwupping to be done.

Kamimura, along with the help of his two assistants, shows the class a few more moves. At this point there is no need for him to speak either English or Japanese. The only fluency required is the fluency of movement.

It’s even clear to someone like me, with no background in martial arts, that Aikido is a method of avoiding the extremes of violence.

Although the students are regularly thrown to the matt, there are no jagged punches or kicks. Everything flows, and it’s mostly about grasping, spinning and tripping. Disarm rather than destroy.

It’s a strenuous activity, however. Couch potatoes need not apply. (One of the reasons I’m watching rather than participating.)

As the class progresses, everyone perspires profusely: Old, young. Men, Women. Even the mirror stretched along the back wall has a sweat on. First it fogs up then liquid tributaries trickle down its face.

There also appears to be a steam train huffing through the room, as 20 straining, striving, struggling students gasp and pant and gasp some more.

The only other noise comes from the weights-room next door, where a tantrum of techno music provides some disrespectful dissonance to the occasion. Otherwise, everything is profoundly respectful. Each bout concludes with a bow. Between scrimmages students sit cross-legged, quietly watching Kamimura describe the next move they must practice.

One of the people watching is Vitor Amandio, the man responsible for bringing this version of aikido to Falkirk. He has been learning the discipline since he was a boy in Portugal and now teaches regular classes in the Blood, Sweat and Tears gym. He also persuaded Kamimura to come to Scotland, after Vitor visited his master in Japan.

Vitor himself first came to Scotland to work as an engineer. But his real passion has always been aikido. Like his master, he loves the peaceful aspect of the training. “It’s best never to end an argument by entering into conflict,” he says. “The way to do that is through dialogue.”

Vitor also enjoys the philosophical side of aikido. “It’s all about mind over body,” he tells me. “If you try to hurt someone in aikido, your body reacts in a different way than if you were going with the movements and trying to create peace and harmony. Aikido is unconditional love towards other people. It gives you peace of mind. Though it’s also fun. When you finish a class, you’re sweating and smiling, rather than sweaty and covered in blood.”

One of Vitor’s students is Rohan Newton, who works in IT sales. He has been coming to these classes since their inception three years ago.

“Aikido means different things to different people,” he tells me. “What I like about it is the lack of a competitive aspect. There are no competitions in aikido. Almost every other martial art is about winning or losing. So when you train, it’s like training for a sport. But we don’t have that element. We come for the self-development and nothing more.”

And has it improved his life?

“Very much so,” he nods. “I’ll be 50 shortly, and compared to many other forms of exercise I’ve tried, it always makes me feel in top form. Both mentally and physically, aikido is just so tremendously life-affirming.”