Tao of Texas Martial Arts Institute is an open-air dojang. Although we have a small air conditioner we use occasionally, it doesn’t work very well, so the majority of the time we end up throwing open the garage doors, turning on a gazillion fans, and training till our doboks are drenched.
Open-air training has become rare in most modern martial arts schools (especially in Texas), but it has been a vital element of how we build mental, physical, and spiritual strength and perseverance at Tao of Texas.
First, it helps everyone feel closer to nature. Hot and cold breezes blow in. Leaves slowly and softly drift to the ground in the fall. Tree limbs sway and swish year-round. Birds chirp. It’s all right outside our white, metal garage doors.
Second, we sweat a lot – I mean A LOT – which forces students to hydrate and take care of their bodies. They drink more water, which helps all their organs function at optimum levels. They learn nifty little statistics, such as, "When you're thirsty, you're already 40% dehydrated."
In this age of obesity in America, one might think students training in an open-air dojang in the height of summer IN TEXAS would have yet another excuse not to exercise. On the contrary. I see just the opposite. Summer training presents an odd challenge. A badge of courage and perseverance of sorts. No matter the temperature, there are those who will not buckle. No matter the weather, someone always shows up for class.
Third, when we sweat and tire, it challenges us to remain in the discomfort of the moment, to notice it – but not run away from it (through drugs, alcohol, food, etc.). I’ve learned that discomfort is often a temporary condition, and I tell my students to let it be until it isn’t anymore.
“This, too, shall pass,” I remind them, adding that when things get hard – in Taekwondo as in life – to remember that the only constant in life is change.