I did it. I actually did it. Yesterday I grabbed my bokken and ran out into the forest for a workout that ran the gamut of trailrunning, yoga, and kenjutsu – or in other words: I did the FULL JEDI.
I knew this kind of ridiculous excess would eventually happen after I had put the pieces together in my last post. As a nerd, this was inevitable. Next on my personal agenda is learning how to make stones float while doing a one armed hand-stand while balancing a really small old guy on my foot. Preferably green.
Silly geek stuff aside, it was actually a great workout, and I’ll tell you right now I broke more sweat doing the yoga and kenjutsu components then I did in the running.
Don’t underestimate that controlled muscle movement stuff. It’s intense.
Since last time, I’d gone out into swampy forest for my daily run and finding that there was no dry place to sit down and meditate, I decided I’d have to do it standing; and if I was going to do it standing, I might as well be doing something more than just breathing.
“Hey, I know: Why not yoga?” said my brain.
“Yeah… why not?” said my brain back to itself.
“You guys are crazy” my brain replied.
“Pot. Kettle. Just sayin'” my brain retorted.
I don’t know much about the inner workings of yoga, but I know a layman’s course of principles and a handful of standing poses to go with it that I could conceivably cycle through. And since I was going to do it out in the forest, I might as well do it while climbing around on some dangerous rocks, logs, and stumps.
Clearly my chain of logic is impeccable.
But seriously, nothing makes you feel like a level 40 forest ninja boss like doing warrior 3 on the tip of a log stretched out over the edge of a ravine (it sounds more dangerous than it is – but still, just enough to REALLY make sure you keep your focus).
I’ve been doing that for the last few days now, and it’s been exactly what I’ve been looking for. Sharpens your mind to a fine focal point, helps you take in the moment, and infuses you with an heroic dose of oxygen.
Adding kenjutsu to it was done purely on a whim. I keep my bokken near at hand in my studio, and as I was jumping into my shoes I went “Hmmmm” and thought back to what I wrote about last time. There was much to consider (what to say to strangers, for example), but the foremost concern I had in mind was “what are the practical requirements of running with a sword?”.
“Hold it reverse, tucked against your fore-arm. Duh!”
So, without any further thought I snatched up my bokken and bolted out the door. Things like this don’t bear up under too much thinking, so I had to get out on the trails before my mind caught up with me.
The place I had picked out to do conduct my sword practice was a cedar grove very near to where my run begins. It was spacious, yet secluded – somewhere you wouldn’t casually encounter other humans. I didn’t want to start the run with suburi, however, so I resolved to hang on to my bokken through the course of my run, then stop in at the grove on the way back.
As an aside: I had really underestimated how heavy a wooden sword becomes to carry while running. In fact, I switched carrying arms a few times to keep it from becoming a discomfort. I had always thought of my bokken as being rather light, but in truth, a good bokken is designed to be as heavy or even heavier than a steel sword. And I have a good one.
There’s plenty of routes to get around the forest, but the one I always take bridges one circuit of trails to another via a grassy field. It just so happens that this connector trail was totally flooded out when I arrived. That’s not really a major problem when you can step around it, except of course when the trail edges are overgrown with thorny blackberry bushes.
Unless you have a sword.
I finished up my running course (stopping for a bit of the aforementioned adventure yoga atop a log at the edge of the McFall Creek ravine) and zipped back to the cedar grove for some swordplay.
I haven’t practiced kenjutsu regularly for a while now. The last time was a brief spurt a year or so ago, but I recall most of the key elements and decided it’d be a great way to make my arms just as sore as my legs were.
I was right.
It wasn’t long at all before my arms and shoulders started to burn, and it got incrementally more unbearable with each stroke, and I’m still feeling some of it a day later. I’ve clearly got some rust to shake off.
All told, the full Jedi was a fun workout. Not too intense, not too punishing, and it was a great excuse to get some diverse exercise done in the midst of some breathtaking scenery.
Will I do the full Jedi again? Maybe. I’ll certainly keep the running, meditation, and yoga-esque components in as a daily fixture. I’ll have to see what whims I’m guided by on any given day as to whether I take my bokken with me.
Remember, Yoda said: “Your weapons. You will not need them.”
And then Luke went ahead and took them anyway. Yeeeehaw!