[Editor's Note: As Musashi said, "From one thing, know ten thousand things." The challenges of the Global Pandemic that we are all going through now might just be a "one thing" that Musashi was talking about. With the right mindset, the Pandemic and our efforts at dealing with it as we continue our keiko, can teach us about life and make us stronger as well. ]
As we know, Kendo is "The Way of sword” and is about much more than just fencing. We also know that our keiko experiences can teach us about the Ways of Life outside the dojo. Currently, we are training with restrictions to our keiko, which includes the requirement that we wear masks during keiko. I think almost all people think this is tough because it is hard to breathe and is so hot during the summer. Of course, it is. Our club knows this well. During the pandemic, the regular training venues for our club have closed, and we have graciously been granted floor space at a traditional dojo, that has no air conditioning. After the AUSKF again permitted keiko, we resumed our classes at this dojo. That meant that we had to be willing and able to keiko in our full bogu, with masks, in the Midwest summer heat and humidity. There have been several days when it was over 90 degrees outside, with high humidity, but we adjusted the intensity of our training a bit for safety and trained anyway.
Originally Kendo comes from Ken-justu, which differs from Kendo in that it was foremost a skill for killing people in combat with a sword. During those times, as a member of the warrior class, you never knew when the opponent would come for you. So, you had to be prepared to fight in any situation. There were no excuses, just death or life. Therefore, the warrior's keiko had to anticipate and prepare for any kind of "what if?" What if you don’t have shoes and are barefoot in gravel? What if your sword breaks?" What if your are attacked when in a bath? What if you are fighting in the rain and mud? What if it is hot weather and you are fighting in armor? What if ...
Let's go back to our present day situation. When we wear a mask, it is hot and hard to breathe. But, what if your very important shiai day or shinsa day is on a hot day with no air conditioning or other cooling and because of that you are short of breath? Is that a good excuse to lose? I am not saying do not push yourself under such circumstances, but I am saying you will have to find out how to adapt and fight effectively in that situation. Because it will be tough to move or strike while you wear the mask, you will have to eliminate wasted movement and find a perfect opportunity to strike. (Older kenshi whose youthful vigor is long gone already know something about this.) A “strong person” does his or her best to prepare for any kind of situation and practices considering all foreseeable and unforeseeable scenarios.
We've only been talking about a Kendo situation, but outside the dojo in your work life, you will encounter similar challenges. For example, good businesspersons will do their best to achieve good results in any kind of situation. They strive to turn a negative situation in to a positive one. Effective businesspeople don’t rely on excuses because they know hard times will come someday and they are preparing ahead of time so that later, they don't need excuses. They do that because they just want to succeed.
So, let’s take the positive outlook for keiko with a mask.