Kangeiko: Mid winter training that purifies the body and spirit

Image of Kangeiko from those cool folks over at https://www.judo-ch.jp/

Post date: Jan 17, 2016 8:30:3 AM - Robert Dale Nolan

Today I had the absolute joy in leading my friends and students in a day long Kangeiko. But many have asked me, What is Kangeiko ? Why is it important ?

Kangeiko / 寒稽古 (Mid Winter Training) is typically a month long exercise taking up the entirety of the month of January. Each day of Judo practice begins early, typically at 5:00am or so. The doors and windows of dojo (Training hall) are opened to allow the cold winter air into the dojo so that practitioners may battle the harsh conditions of the season. The Kodokan's first kangeiko, or winter training, took place at the Tomizaka-cho dojo during the winter of 1894–1895. The purpose of this is ritual inuring of the pupil to the extremes of cold is to cultivate the virtue of perseverance and a cleansing of the mind body and spirit. This practice calls back to the intricate interwoven nature that spirituality and martial arts share, especially those of Japanese origin. Similarly, another practice that is shared between Japanese Martial arts and spiritualism is called Misogi / 禊 (Purification ceremony). Misogi, a shinto practice, employs a similar method of cultivating perseverance and cleansing the mind body and spirit by training the body under the cold rushing water from a waterfall. The body and mind buildup their spirit by enduring the harsh conditions and the water symbolically washes away any impurity. The goal of Kangeiko and Misogi is to ultimately instill a sense of perseverance in students. If a student can show up for practice and endure the cold, rain or shine, withstand the down pour from a waterfall then surely this student will have the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to conquer any obstacle that obstructs the path toward any given goal.

As mentioned above, this year I had the honor of guiding (With help from my great friends and senior students Jamblin, Porfirio Daniel Cano Lopez, Jacob Johnson, and Ricky Harper. The students of 仙人掌 仙人拳 Cactus Sage School showed great tenacity, open mindedness, compassion, and strength as at the start of January we began to incorporate the harsh desert nights into our training sessions. During training the training hall doors were opened wide, and a mandatory mile long run as used to start off each practice session.

This season's Kangeiko culminated with a hike to the serene Piestewa Peak Summit which is a jagged trail reaching 2,610 ft at its summit! This was followed by an extended Judo practice session in which Uchikomi, Randori, Skill based drills, and Judo games, and a potluck dinner so that we may bond as a community of individuals dedicated to making our community better and ultimately peaceful through martial arts.