Wind Chime by randomix © 2012 niall. All rights reserved.

midsummer training

Shochugeiko: Training conducted during the hottest months of the summer in order to cultivate physical and mental strength, a Kodokan tradition since 1896.
Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo

It’s 35 degrees Celsius today in Tokyo – 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Yesterday it was 38 – over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity is high. There is what’s called the urban heat island effect. It is hot. Everyone starts to feel lethargic and low in energy – natsu bate (夏バテ) in Japanese. But the solution – air conditioning – is even worse. Trains and shops and restaurants are all cold. Humans are gradually being shepherded away from nature.

Japanese people have always had a close relationship with nature. The passing of a year has very clear phases and the rhythm of the seasons is marked with traditional events and customs: like cherry blossom viewing in spring and moon viewing in the autumn.

So the Japanese people have developed traditional ways to fight the heavy summer heat. Many houses have wind-chimes (furin – 風鈴). Even a tiny sound gives the impression – real or imagined – of a slight breeze. Then there is a custom of exchanging summer greetings cards. Some people draw their own cards in watercolours or ink and wash (sumi-e) and send them to friends and relatives with a polite enquiry about their health in the heat. And there’s a special day in August (doyo no ushi no hi) to eat eel (unagi) to get stamina and to protect against summer sicknesses.

And then there are ghost stories. In Japan ghost stories are told in summer to bring a chill on the hot evenings. Seriously.

And nearly everyone has a fan. There are two kinds: a folding fan or sensu – 扇子 (in budo we have a tradition of a tessen – an iron fan – 鉄扇 – which can be used as an effective weapon); or an uchiwa – a round plastic-framed fan made of paper often given away free as advertising. Years ago the frame used to be made of bamboo.
In budo we have midsummer training – shochugeiko 暑中稽古 (keiko in the heat). A week or ten days of training every day.

We are supposed to make a special effort. If you do every practice you get something – a certificate or a towel!
But actually I don’t believe in the value of shochugeiko. I don’t think that you need to make a special effort once or twice a year. If you’re training seriously and hard that is enough – what more could anyone ask? So I don’t believe in doing anything different.

The winter equivalent is kangeiko 寒稽古 (cold keiko) in January. Kangeiko: Special winter training conducted early in the morning during the coldest days of winter to build stamina and strengthen the spirit, a Kodokan tradition since 1884. Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo

I don’t believe in the value of kangeiko either.

But just writing those words about winter is starting to make me feel cooler.

The winter equivalent is kangeiko 寒稽古 (cold keiko) in January. Kangeiko: Special winter training conducted early in the morning during the coldest days of winter to build stamina and strengthen the spirit, a Kodokan tradition since 1884. Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo

The winter equivalent is kangeiko 寒稽古 (cold keiko) in January. Kangeiko: Special winter training conducted early in the morning during the coldest days of winter to build stamina and strengthen the spirit, a Kodokan tradition since 1884. Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo

The winter equivalent is kangeiko 寒稽古 (cold keiko) in January. Kangeiko: Special winter training conducted early in the morning during the coldest days of winter to build stamina and strengthen the spirit, a Kodokan tradition since 1884. Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo

Yeah that’s much better. Thank you.

niall

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%ABrei http://www.mangajin.com/mangajin/sam…sts/ghosts.htm
http://ghost.new-age-spirituality.com/japanese.html

photo: Wind Chime used by kind permission of photomix

This was originally posted on the aikido site aikiweb in 2010.

Aqui la traducción en español.

Hier die Deutsche Übersetzung.

© niall matthews 2010

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