This Weekend my Keikojo had Yagai Keiko, which means outdoor training. We do that every quarter Year, so we can experience the four seasons in Training. I believe this type of training is very important in Katori Shinto-ryu. For ones, it is said that my school is a school of warfare for the battlefield. So one should be familiar with the conditions on a open field.
The ground isn’t flat, there a hills and holes. Different kinds of plants, leaves(which can be slippery as fuck combined with moisture), stones, little tree branches and in a City like Berlin also a lot of shit. And we have to keep in mind that on a real battlefield there would be also dead bodys, lost weapons and other sharp metal objects be around. So it is a inherent different experience than training on a flat wooden floor or on Tatami or other mats.
It’s also quite enlightening doing Yagai Keiko and remembering the old time strategists Sun Tzu and Musashi giving tipps like „Have always the sun in the back“ or „When Fighting on a hill take the higher ground!“. Because maybe you’ve read them and you understand them logically, but it’s the first Time you realize their importance first hand. Because if the sun shines in your eyes you don’t see shit(again, in Berlin this can be taken literally. Maybe you don’t see the shit you will step into). Also fighting on lower ground is a mind battle of fear. Because it becomes quite easy while stepping back to misstep, resulting in falling down. Also stepping forward becomes more exhausting. Also the guy on the highground will appear much bigger and can use gravity to his advantage in his strike, it’s a clear win lose situation.
Doing Yagai Keiko, the more crouching like positions in Muromachi Period Ryuha reveal their meaning. It’s so you don’t fall over your own feet and have full controll over your center of gravity. I’ve saw it already happen with a new guy last year, it’s not very classy.
Temperature and weather becomes also a huge factor. This weekend we trained when it was 3° Celsius. Doing Iaijutsu the Sword becomes also cold as fuck. Finger starting to get numb, changing the whole Tenouchi Feeling.
So … go outside and have fun! It’s important.