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Great practice, but...

By Myoken Dojo, May 27 2015 12:37PM

Transferred from previous web site

Originally posted 19 November 2014

On Saturday 16th November we had a great practice. Six people turned up for Jodo, which is a good turnout for a dojo that’s been running for less than two months. There was Elena (teaching), myself and four beginners of slightly varying experience, but all ungraded, so the session was mostly kihon. One hour of Honte Uchi, Gyakute Uchi and Hikiotoshi Uchi, both as sotai and tandoku dosa (i.e. without a partner practicing solo, and with a partner holding a sword and standing in a cold sweat hoping the beginner with a jo remembers what to do).

After this intensive kihon where Elena works just fast enough for people to cope but not so slow that they have much time to think, I was pretty exhausted, given that she and I had arrived half an hour early and worked together on Koryu (this time, I with the sword or Jo was in a cold sweat, not because she didn’t remember what to do, but often I didn’t).

After the Kihon, one more experienced student worked with me on the first three kata while the others learned Tsuki Zue. Again I had the instruction to not let him think too much, which meant I had to do a whole load of kata.

After Jodo we had 90 minutes of iaido. Again ungraded students of varying experience, so we spent an hour on kihon and suburi and 30 minutes on Mae and Ushiro.

Then followed my big mistake. After three and a half hours training I didn’t do any stretching. People got talking, money collected, paper work done, change and go. It’s so easy to forget.

Monday morning the predictable stiff legs and painful back. A little bit of stretching, but it was so sore. Tuesday the same. Today, Wednesday morning I got up at 5.30 and did two hours of stretching and gentle exercise. Now I can move again, but from now on stretching will be included at the end of every class. I’m married to a massage therapist, I should and do know better, but we all forget. And I think the biggest danger is that slight stiffness is shrugged off, especially when we’re young and believe your body is indestructible. But all the work we do when our bodies are stiff accumulates damage that builds up into problems later.

One of Elena’s students at her body stretch class in the Cornwall Yoga Centre in Truro is a personal physical trainer. When I first met him a couple of months ago, for all his skills and knowledge and fitness, he was as stiff and hard as you could imagine and lacked any significant flexibility. Weight training and cycling with no stretching had left him with none but basic mobility. I saw him again last week after about 6 stretch sessions and a couple of massages and the difference was quite astonishing.

Whatever exercise you do, however old (young) you are, however fit and however flexible you think you are, your body is not indestructible. It will deteriorate as you get older and the only way to minimise the deterioration is to stretch adequately after every training session.

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