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Deerfield B&B offers rooms ... and Shintaido dojo

DEERFIELD — Tucked on a quiet path on River Road, a small bed and breakfast is now open for visitors to Franklin County — but it’s a B&B with a difference.

Bela Breslau opened Bela’s B&B at 595B River Road this spring.

The light and open living space offers two bedrooms in a quaint country setting, but it also includes a 40- by 64-foot Shintaido Center.

The combination is a mix of Breslau’s two loves.

The Connecticut native moved to California in 1976, where she discovered Shintaido — a combination of martial arts and body movement that cultivates the spirit, mind and body.

She eventually became an instructor and has practiced the discipline for 28 years — she is certified at the second level. There are five levels (called Dan in Japanese) On average it takes 10 years to reach first Dan (the grade of a Shintaido instructor).

As well as being a practical form of self-defense, practitioners of Shintaido consider it a form of artistic expression, a healthy exercise, and a path of self-discovery and transformation.

Shintaido is practised with bare hands, but some schools also teach the use of the long staff or using a wooden sword.

In 2006, Breslau and her husband, Stephen Billias, who is also a Shintaido instructor, moved from California to Deerfield, where they could be near both relatives in Northampton and in Woodstock, N.Y.

They also owned the neighboring white farmhouse and rented it to young Shintaido students.

When she arrived in western Massachusetts, Breslau began working for the Pioneer Valley Symphony as a managing director.

But after a three-year stint, she was ready for a change. So she opened her own business.

As she conceived it, the business would be two-fold — a bed and breakfast and a dojo room to supplement her income.

She sold the farmhouse to Atlas Farm and renovated her two-floor home with new decorations.

Inside the home, there are two bedrooms each with a private bathroom, the downstairs “Sugarloaf Room” with its own back entrance leading to a jacuzzi and the upstairs “Pocumtuck Room.”

The upstairs office rooms are where the bed and breakfast owners stay.

“It’s really fun,” said Breslau. “I like the idea of taking care of others and being home.”

Abutting the bed and breakfast is the large open dojo room used for Shintaido practice.

Breslau plans to rent the room — a large space with an oak floor — for groups, such as Tai Chi practitioners and yoga students. It’s already been used for special events.

Anyone interested for coming for a stay at Bela’s can call 413-522-6394. For more information, see: http://farm.shintaido.org/belabandb.html

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