Spirit Training is where you train so hard that the only thing you have left to carry you out of the dojo is your spirit. We do it every six weeks and it's when Sensei really shines.
The greatest challenge for a strong person to remember is that they are strong even when they don't feel strong---or especially when they don't feel strong. Maybe today wasn't Sensei's best day. It was rainy, some of us weren't awake yet, and he is probably still coming down from jet lg after a recent trip. Even so, we were all plenty drenched with sweat and satisfaction!
At times he lets us see that his feelings are susceptible to vulnerability like everyone else's. It is not necessary to know the details because the lesson is in how he takes care of those feelings. To see vulnerability in him while knowing his strength helps me remember that my own vulnerabilities don't hold a candle to my strength. Part of our dojokun is, "I will strive to have patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control." That's the hardest part when it comes to me dealing with my own health muss, so I really need the example.
When you're in this dojo it's just you. No frills, no fancy hairstyles, no hundred patches all over your gi, none of that. Everyone can see you and anyone can watch you. This makes it important to do one's best, because we all learn from each other, and we will pick up on either the best or the worst. One of the burdens that Sensei and Senpai bear is that everyone is watching them at all times, and for different reasons. They are always modeling, whether they like it or not, and that's a lot of pressure.
To my horror, I was late when I thought I'd be early today! Having decided that I would go all out today, I jumped in and had a blast. The pain was under control, I just took breaks to let spasms relax, and I got through without having to run fluids during training.
At one point my thoughts began to get foggy, which is a fairly new symptom, as far as I'm aware (or willing to admit). I dealt with it by using the Scientific Method, which is easy enough to use for problem solving, good and rote! I listed symptoms, concerns, possible solutions, likely outcomes, then evaluated and selected what I thought might work best. This was my first time working through it on my own in the dojo, I always check with Sensei. I thought I'd try it on my own, and I did okay. My method was breaks and hydration.
At the end of Spirit Training today, Sensei did a Mat Chat, where we sit down and be tells us what he's been thinking about, what he's been working on, what he'd like us to work on. It's a special time for character development that comes just before those who tested and passed receive their belts.
Here are some things Sensei shared which stuck with me as meaningful and relevant to my training. (Note: The wording may be off a little bit, I lipread and he has a beard.)
"It's not about how good you are at karate. It's about how good karate is for you."
"Whatever you believe in, you need to follow it to its logical end and know beyond every doubt that it will sustain you. If it doesn't, it's false."
"You cannot look at a person's belt and judge that their karate isn't good enough. You don't know what another person went through to get that belt."
I'll leave it at that, so you can think about it yourself. I'm going to go home and shower, I stink. :)