I’ve been traveling for work to areas where I don’t have access to dojo or gyms. It can make training challenging. I am training though. The trickiest part is taking a sword with me when I fly. I’ve got a nice, hard-side gun case for flying.
I get stared at going through the airport by every security person in the place, but I’ve never had any problems. I check the gun case and carefully explain that it contains no firearms, only fencing equipment. Sometime I have to open the case and show the airline folks, but they take one look at the sword and get bored. After the airline staff tag the case, I drop it off at the TSA inspection point. I’ve got TSA approved locks on the case so the TSA can unlock and lock the case whenever they please. In 15 years of traveling like this, I haven’t had any problems.
The trick is finding a good place to train when I get to my destination. Weapons training is best done discreetly. I really don’t want to make the local folks nervous and have them call the police about the crazy guy with the sword. It would be great if there was a nice iai or jodo dojo near every place I have to travel to, but the world isn’t arranged that way. At least in Japan I can usually find a public dojo to rent on an hourly basis even if there is nothing else around. I’ve resorted to doing sword practice in my hotel room.
It’s an interesting exercise working out exactly what I can and cannot do in any given room. I can’t practice everything anyway. This results in the location determining what I’m going to practice instead of me having to think about it. Fortunately, most hotel rooms are big enough that furniture can be rearranged to make room for sword swinging. Sometimes the ceiling is even high enough to stand up and do tachiwaza. That doesn’t happen too often though, so I usually end up doing waza and kata from seiza and tatehiza.
Since I’m rehabilitating my knee, I need lots of work in seiza anyway. I’m rebuilding the muscles, and they have a long way to go, so enforced seiza practice is a good thing. A few weeks back I mentioned that I couldn’t get all the way down into seiza. The results of all the work in the hotel since then has made the effort to drag my buki with me on a business trip more than worth the effort. The need to make my knee bend far enough to get into seiza has driven a lot of my practice. I also have to make my leg strong enough to get me out of seiza once I’m there. At this point, my right leg is still only half the strength of my left leg, so working from seiza is challenging me. I can’t rely on the strength of my legs to automatically hold me steady.
Doing the first kata from the Kendo Federation’s Seitei Iai fulfills all of my requirements for rehabilitating my leg. I have to get into and out of seiza once, and then I do a further body raise, lower and final raise. It turns into a real workout for my legs very quickly, and that’s what I need. Right now I’m working to recover strength and ability that I had prior to April 22. It’s going to take a few more months, but I will get there. I get to do kata from seiza until my leg just can’t get me up and down.
While I’m doing all of that I have plenty of time to consider all those other aspects of the kata. It’s never empty repetition. I’m not just sitting in a hotel room doing mindless reps. Like any time I do kata, it is supposed to be the mindful execution of a kata that is unique every time I do it. This makes it endlessly interesting because there is always something to learn or work on every time I do it.
Doing my training in a hotel adds to the number of things I have to consider. Training in a confined space means I really have to be aware of spacing and distancing in a way I don’t have to worry about in a nice, roomy dojo. It is improving my spacial sense. Exactly how close will my sword tip be to that curtain at the end of my cut? I won’t spear that bedspread when I do the next tsuki, will I?
The best part of training in a hotel room is just that I get to train regularly even when I’m far from home. In rural Georgia, koryu dojo just don’t exist, and I haven’t found any place that I can borrow. So I move the furniture in my hotel room and do the best I can. Don’t believe me? Here’s how it’s done.
So even if you don’t have a perfect dojo to train in all the time, you can still get your training in. Travel is no excuse.