The main academic school year for the University of Cincinnati is over, so we can’t use the room we normally practice in, unless we plan on paying a large amount of money. The good news is that everyone will just assimilate with the Northern Kentucky Kendo Club (NKKC) for the time being until the year starts up again sometime in September.
Earlier this year, the NKKC has been practicing at the Corryville Recreational Center, and had access to a pretty nice room with good floors and a mirror along the wall. That provided some good advantages of being able to look at ourselves while doing Iaido and Kendo practice. But now that its summer and the programs at the center changed, we got moved to the gymnasium. The good news is that we now have a lot of space to handle the additional people. The bad news is that there is hardly any ventilation available.
We have been there for two weeks, but it has only been until this last practice that we really felt the effects of the lack of ventilation and air conditioning. There are two fans there, but the room is so big, that it only provides a small temperature drop if used all day, but not enough room to circulate the air, which can be a big problem when wearing bogu (and even without). At the end of the last practice, it was hotter inside the gym than it was outside the building. To put that in perspective, the thermometer, according to My 64 (TV station in the Cincinnati, Ohio area), the outside temperature was 89 degrees. So that makes the air in the gym in the 90s and our bodies feeling much hotter temperatures when wearing the dogi, hakama and bogu to restrict any kind of heat loss.
As noted by everybody, it is quite taxing on everyone there. During the kakari-geiko and jigeiko moments, my body was literally burning up, and I was doing all I could to not get physically and mentally defeated by that. I know that we will all do our best to see this through to the end. One advantage we have now is that we know what the conditions are like so we can better prepare ourselves before each practice.
Of course, this is also a perfect time to think about the well-being of everyone in the club and people who end up practicing in these sorts of conditions. The first step that needs to be taken is to drink LOTS of water before practice. I remember hearing that 30 minutes to an hour is the best to let your body absorb the water and prevent cramps due to having too much stuff in your stomach. This should allow us to perspire and provide any cooling that nature can provide and keep our bodies running despite the harsh conditions. Most importantly, we need to pay attention to ourselves and know when to stop. We all know that we must push ourselves as far as we can go, but the moment that dizziness and headaches start to set in, it might be time to sit out for the rest of the practice. As I always say, it’s better to stop to fight another day, than to keep going and be out for an extended period of time, or possibly forever.
As I mentioned before, I know that we can all get through this, despite the huge changes in practice conditions. As long as we take ample care of ourselves before, during and after practice, there isn’t much to worry about. Though, to be honest, I’m pretty excited about this because I get a new challenge to face. Or it just might be my masochistic side coming out…whatever.