Intensive training: diving in the “pro” ocean

Some weeks ago our Dojo organized an intensive training. That is, a day in which three classes were scheduled: the first in the early morning, the second at lunch-time and the third at the usual time we are accustomed to train in the evening.

A total of five hours of training, tasting the flavor of being a kind of internal student of a Dojo (or uchi deshi). Somehow experiencing a bit the same life and rhythm of those individuals who devote their lives to a martial discipline.

We try to write down our feelings and sensations about this uncommon experience.

No free lunch

That Friday was notified with a two-months advance. Since we wanted to enjoy that experience with every comfort, we accurately planned a day-off on that Friday, avoiding any other event but the training in our agenda. As we entered in the event’s week, it seemed that everything ought to be discussed, decided, done, written, , signed fixed and everyone should be met… just on that Friday.
So the first lesson we learned is: if you really want to intensively train, you must harmonize extra training with extra duties in your agenda. Living as in a bubble, just focusing on training is not real. It is simply a childish projection. Training is cool, but it’s not a  holiday. It requires a double commitment: training is something that must support daily life and daily life must be enforced by training. Unbalancing such mechanism may be very dangerous.

It has been interesting driving through the town, arriving at the dojo, training, undressing the gi, wearing back the necktie, driving through the town again, changing the scenario, starting a meeting, trying not to fall asleep… And repeating such routine more times in the same day. This led us to the understanding of the following principle.

Every drop of energy matters

The Latin author Seneca, 2,000 years ago stated: “Danda est animis remissio”, which means that our souls and systems need a bit of rest. We’re not robots, although we are asked too often to act so.
Therefore, at the end of the week, our system tends to naturally relax, demanding us to slow down our rhythms. By injecting in the system a shock of extra training, every habit is shaken and the system easily runs out of energy.

This is known and common. This is the reason why good trainers often change athletes’ workouts and programs. You can “pump tons of iron” but if you don’t change the exercise your body will be weak. So it is for the whole human system.

Frankly speaking, it didn’t take too much to understand that every little, tiny crumb of mental and physical strength should be accurately used for a specific purpose.

We easily lose the capability to focus on something. We are distracted. We put an effort in too many directions, in too many things. In a word, we waste a lot of energy.

Well, training in an intensive way -and being forced to be almost simultaneously focused on professional tasks and activities- educates the individual to the respect of the energy. The capability to accurately manage the energy -which is limited- opens up limitless possibilities. When we are envious about those people who achieved stunning results in their lives, we often forget to mention their capability to channel their energy on what really matters. And every drop of our essence matters. And this leads to the next principle.

When you think it’s over… AH AHA HAHA!

After the last class, we enjoyed dinner, with our guest who joined us from other dojos. Spending some time together, seated in front of a pizza, is always a pleasant experience. When you bear 16-18 hours of full activity before the dinner, the pleasure fights with a bit of fatigue and a general physical condition that is not that fresh. Since many members of the community and other friends join the dinner also to enjoy a different kind of evening, many of them -who didn’t actually had the chance to live the intensive training- are fresher than you. And actually, when looking at me, a friend of ours said: “Oh, I was convinced you were more lively, more spirited”.

She was right. She was there just to enjoy the dinner with all of us. She had the right to take the best from that moment. Also from me. So, it’s never over: honoring the practice is not enough. Neither honoring job and practice.  We must honor the whole picture. And this leads to the penultimate principle.

Who am I?

When you live an experience that pushes you to the edges of your physical and mental limits, you suddenly discover that you are no longer able to answer that question.

New skills and capabilities arise, as well as new limits. Something happens and demonstrates that the “residual image of the self” shifted to a new one. You discover you are stronger than you believed, and, at the same time, that your routines are not that efficient as you thought: just add an extra load of pressure and your ordinary world will tremble. Harmonizing a true and devoted practice with everyday life requires an extra effort and you look at professionals from a radically new perspective. So this leads to the last thought.

Who is a “pro”?

We have the chance to train in a Dojo ran by a teacher who chose Aikido teaching as his primary activity, within an international community that is made by other professionals.
Yet, who is a pro, besides the evidence that he chose that activity for life?

The intensive training -and, I guess, a real uchi deshi experience- gives the opportunity to clearly understand that every kind of activity can be taught, learned and lived at many different levels. Yet, the only level that can make the difference is the level in which everyone is committed to live that experience at the best level.

That is the pro level, a living status in which the ikigai principle is the purpose beneath every action, every moment.

That makes a huge difference between a pro and a good technician. At a first sight, they may look similar, when demonstrating a technique. It is the whole surrounding that makes the difference. The difference is the pro

In conclusion…

We strongly recommend experiencing intensive training sessions: they provide a huge set of benefits. At the same time, we also strongly recommend having a comfortable bed and a soft pillow. They could be useful to understand the hidden secrets of a martial discipline…




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