Monday, September 13, 2010

Open-Air, Open Eyes

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.

1 comment:

  1. I for one prefer to train outside, even in the 100 degree summers that freguent Austin. There's nothing better to me than coming home with a drenched dobok and sore muscles after a great workout at the dojang.

    Some may call me crazy for enjoying my time in the heat. But I just smile and nod as they, with sweat pouring down their backs, gripe about the heat.

    It's a personal kind of achievement when you can listen to others complain and moan about the heat, and in your mind know that what they are experiencing is nothing compared to what you have gone through.

    Thanks to my years of training in an "Open-Air Dojang" I now am one of the few people with a smile on their face in the marching field. Welcoming the heat as another aspect of life.

    -Roberto Hass