Training in Time of Plague and Panic

We train to detect threats before they emerge, and to deal with them effectively if they do. Threats are always present in our environment, sometimes in the distance, sometimes up close.  Opportunity is around us too.

At our Tuesday evening class on September 11, 2001, pretty much every member of the dojo showed up to train. No one knew what was going on, what it would mean, or where the next shock would land. But we knew where we were and what to do with our training time in the dojo. 

We hardly spoke a word before class. Everyone began to train, alone or in pairs or in groups. When we started the class all we did was form a group and silently move. No instruction, no comments, no distraction, just training. It seemed like the right way to do it. Twilight filled the room. Then moonlight. Then we all went home.

Not knowing what is going on is normal for a fighter. Operating in threat environments – in a confrontation, a building search, a fire, a hazmat spill, approaching a suspicious person – what you “don’t know” is what you are working with. You want to know. You want to get oriented. You want to take skillful action. So you go step by step. You rely on your training and experience. You know your objective, and you proceed. 

In the dojo we adjust the way we train to meet new circumstances. We are accustomed to facing new opponents, new kata, new training challenges, health issues, travel, schedule and family issues we have not faced before – and we adapt and continue.

We can train any time anywhere. We can train outdoors if that becomes necessary. We can minimize contact if necessary.  We can train on our own if we have to, indoors, in the courtyard, on the rooftop, at the park, or on the beach. It does not cost anything to practice. 

A few years ago, one student who got too sick to move told me she did kata visualization in her mind each day. She returned to training a few months later, recovered, and continued to train physically as well as mentally. Her practice is flourishing.

During a massive storm that closed our roads, with trees down, flood water rising and power intermittent, a few of us made contact and trained remotely, wherever we were, at class time.

Each of us has different stresses and different values. But we all value our practice. We value our community of practitioners: challenging each other and helping each other, getting our minds strong and clear, our bodies healthy and resilient, as we build the fighting skills and the determination we need to take care of ourselves and the people who depend on us. 

During training other concerns, which may loom very large at times, recede. We get to shift perspective and glimpse other things that really matter to us, and are really good. 

We always face the unknown. Sometimes we notice it. Sometimes we don’t. We want to stay safe. We want to stay prepared. We want to stay alive. It will take skill and purpose to get it right. But there is no need for anything to stand in our way. 


Post by Jeffrey Brooks, author of The Good Fight – The Virtues and Value of the Martial Arts 

Photo by Katrina Thissen

Post Copyright © 2020 Jeffrey Brooks and Mountain Karate Dojo, L.L.C.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: