We are officially out of the old dojo and into our new (temporary) location in the valley. Fortunately we were able to keep the same schedule in the same location, instead of having to change the training days and/or locations throughout the week. We were also able to continue training from the old dojo to the new location without missing a beat, as we only took a day off for Independence Day last week before we were back at it that weekend.
All is not fun and games, though, depending on how you look at it. The new location comes with its own challenges and we're all going to go through some growing pains as we adjust and learn to use the space effectively. This change has made me think about the way I train and how to put a positive spin on it and use it to continue to improve, hence the reason for this post! Hopefully this will shed some light on my thought process when it comes to training in conditions that aren't ideal or optimal.
Two of the biggest issues that I've seen so far at the new place are the heat and the floor. The heat is temporary, as it only really affects us during the summer, but it is brutal! We are in a space that has no airflow right now, and I can see it wearing on people as time goes on. We're looking into some options to remedy this, but during my practice on Monday I tried to use the suffocating heat as a challenge and did my best to work through it. I feel that it can not only help with my endurance, because if I can train hard in the heat I can train hard in anything, but also with the mental fortitude that is oh-so-important in kendo. it would be easy, real easy, for me to throw in the towel and take a breather, but learning to push through the heat and the discomfort it brings can also help me push through mentally when necessary, whether it's during a taikai or shinsa or some other time where I find myself in mental distress. This is not to say that I would push through it regardless of whatever my body is telling me, though. I'm always conscious of how I'm feeling and whether I need to dial it back a bit or step out for a round or two to attend to injuries or other issues. Train hard, but train smart, right?
The floor is the other major issue right now. A lot of people are new to the feeling, but for those of us that were around when we first started in our old dojo we still remember how slick that floor was. This is that floor, revived in all its icy glory. There is little to no grip on most of it so movement is a challenge and fumikomi, if not careful, can be a killer. We've already had a couple of casualties, with people falling. Again, this can either be a reason (excuse) to step out and avoid training hard, but if you use it to your advantage then it can produce some really helpful benefits. One that struck me right away was a sense of center. There's no way you are going to stay upright on that floor if you're not well aware of your center and keeping everything moving with it, or keeping your feet and legs under it. Any kind of leaning, or any kind of lag in bringing your feet under you while moving, has the potential to end with you on the ground, so personally I've been concentrating a lot on that. I'll usually take a few passes on the floor before class to get used to the feeling, and then build on that as training goes until I'm comfortable.
Speaking of legs and feet, the floor lends itself to helping us vastly improve our footwork. I, for one, always need to improve my movement and footwork, and this floor is going to do wonders for me, helping to keep everything moving properly and my feet under me, as noted above. I feel like this is one area that's easy to overlook. Honestly, who wants to think about their feet all the time, or how they're moving? We've all been walking and using our limbs for quite a few years, it should be fairly natural! As one of my senpai said before, most people see the sword as this fun, new thing that they want to learn about, but footwork as boring in comparison, even though footwork and body movement are, in my opinion, more important in kendo. With that in mind, I look forward to training on the new floor and seeing how I can evolve with it.
There are a few issues that do need to be addressed about the floor - some indents that need to be filled and so on - but those are being handled soon and should help us cut loose a bit more afterward without fear of tripping or stubbing our toes or anything of that nature. These are also just a couple of examples of the challenges that I face with our new location. I know that others have their own issues, but I think that if we approach them with a positive mindset and a little creativity then it's easy to flip a possible negative situation into a positive one, and kendo is way more fun when done with a positive mindset!