There is one meme that always makes me laugh during these crazy times! It’s those the apocalypse we expected vs the apocalypse we got!
I think there’s a discrepancy in expectations for martial arts too. Most of us have various images in mind when we think of martial arts (at least before we start training anyway). Anyone see a samurai sword fight? Maybe stealthy ninjas? Bruce Lee? Kill Bill movies?
I have none of those skills…but, we do use staffs and (wooden) swords in our dojo!
This brings me to the katas and suburi. We have a 13 step and a 22 step jo (staff) kata. Our dojo also uses the 7 suburi (sword forms). These katas are simply a series of planned steps – specific footwork and weapon strikes/ blocks basically. They are also among my favorite ways to meditate while working on my aikido. They allow you to train your breathing and relaxation while uniting your mind and body. It may sound mystical, but it truly is doing the forms over and over and over (and over and over) again. Yes, you memorize the steps, but it shouldn’t be mindless. Letting your body flow while you practice controlling your breathing, checking your form, and learning precision is an amazing opportunity. And you can do all of that without an attacker (training partner).
How do weapons kata translate off the mat during the pandemic?
Have you seen the expert advice that children flourish with routines? They are encouraging parents to establish and maintain routines while at home.
What is a routine but a series of planned steps?
Confession time – I’ve been so impressed by the people who know what day of the quarantine they are on. I have struggled to know the day of the week, whether I put my contacts in, and sometimes even if I remembered to brush my teeth.
Clearly, I flourish with a routine too. And that’s what this post is about – finding your pandemic kata. Let’s start by remembering to expect failures and that is part of the process so no worries [check my previous failure posts for additional info if you are struggling]. I think it’s also smart to remember to be SMART with our routine goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Just Google SMART goal definition for more information on this!
We are all under stress so this isn’t the time for everyone to try big changes. For me and this post, it’s more about finding something of your previous routine to provide some stability during the pandemic chaos.
However, to each their own so if you are willing and able to try new lifestyle changes – I say go for it, friends!
Whenever I taught aikido, I always wanted to make sure I wasn’t asking anything from my students that I couldn’t do or hadn’t done. I was always my best Guinea pig…and I’m the test subject for this post too!
I started the new routine on Monday of this week. It’s a mix of old and new so I tried to provide that information. This isn’t a full schedule as I’m pretty sure that would bore you to tears.
Drink water first then shower
Usual morning routine: feeding the cats, checking the news, breakfast, brushing teeth, etc
LesMills OnDemand has been part of my routine for years so this isn’t new. However, since my struggle with an aikido injury and the flu, my activity level has been greatly reduced.
8:30am Real job clock-in
I try to take the hourly breaks to stretch and move, but this depends on my workload. If you aren’t able to work from home, this would be the new routine for you. There will no doubt be trial and error to find what works for you – cleaning, reading, watching tv, getting outside if you can, etc. Perhaps you’re trying the pandemic diary and sharing it online? Maybe you are trying to learn a new skill? You could even be providing assistance to neighbors or charities…there are endless possibilities here to explore.
Grazing is certainly an issue for me so structure for my meals does help. I’ve also taken this opportunity to force myself to be up and active. Maybe considering adding an extra glass of water as well as 10 squats to your noon break.
5:30pm Real job clock-out
The evenings were often the times I crashed after a hard day. I don’t always feel like looking at a computer screen to read or write. Sometimes, I’m tired of hearing depressing news. As I need a healthier way to decompress, I’ve added a second short yoga routine here. It isn’t much, but I’ve found it helpful to go through some sun salutations.
6:00pm Evening chill
Again, I won’t go through each step here. I think what matters is that there are steps though. The routine provides a sense of normalcy and stability for me personally. This can be checking the news, calling family, playing with pets, reading, or any number of things that help you de-stress.
10pm Nighttime routine
I have struggled to sleep regular hours since working from home so this is an attempt to enforce what worked easily before. I’ve added in more yoga and meditation before my ‘grooming’ routine (removing contacts, washing face, brushing teeth). I’ve also forced myself to put down any books or TV so I can wind down and sleep.
I wouldn’t say this week has been a shining example of success, tbh. However, I have felt more productive and more in control. I’m going to continue to build on these small successes, tweak my kata, and keep trying. It’s far from a big change or huge improvement, but every big project and journey is made up of small efforts. This has been my week of small efforts. By having the routine, I am able to breathe and move better. I am able to focus on smaller details. It’s your turn, friends.
Do you have a new pandemic kata?
Are you taking care of the basics to keep yourself healthy and sane? Have you shared your new routine with others? Do you hold yourself accountable even as you expect some failures?
Whether you are a martial artist or not, please feel free to comment below and/ or contact me. I would love to have others guest blog on this subject!! If we really are all in this together, then we should be able to talk and learn from one another.
And yes, I already have the next blog post started! We’ll stick with the routines discussion from this post, but we’ll also chat about the need for adaptability is on and off the mats.
2 thoughts on “Pandemic survival: Lessons from martial arts [Part 5]”