Robert M Watson Jr
I had a bit of a revelation the other day. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of our dojo recently and as is typical during seminars we went to the local park for some weapons practice. It is a modest park with a nice stand of redwoods and a Frisbee golf course. Local folk frequent that park for family outings.
During the training I noticed that my kiai was way way louder and more pronounced than I ever recall. Even a few days later during regular practice in the dojo I noticed my kiai was diminished back to the usual level. There was something about being out in that park that made a huge difference.
Originally it was very difficult for me to kiai because the previous two teachers I had never stressed kiai and training was always silent. Just getting over that hurdle took maybe 2-3 years.
It occurred to me recently that all my life as a kid my parents, grandparents and most every other adult of import had stressed to use ones 'indoor voice' so as not to be such a disturbance with my typically wanton rambunciousness. Have I been programmed for decades to limit the level and type of vocalizations while indoors to such an extent that now when in a setting in which a powerful kiai is encouraged and even required (sensei says 'everyone kiai' more than once each class) that old conditioning kicks in and throttles me back?
Now it think it is exactly that conditioning that is holding me back in expressing the kiai like I can outside in the park but not inside the dojo. Now I'm really worried about all the other types of conditioning from the past decades that are holding me back? I can tell you it is a startling revelation as I catch myself perpetrating this conditioning on my own children and pondering just what I'm doing and how much of my parenting is going to have exactly what kind of lasting effects on my children.
Maybe it is a stretch from shouting in the park to parental angst but it certainly has me thinking about stuff in a whole new way.
There is hope because the old dog can learn new tricks after all!
Or maybe it is because indoors you receive feedback from the echos of your kiai off the walls, floor and ceiling and subconsciously adjust the level of your kiai.
Whereas outdoors you have to kiai louder to try to get the same feedback (echo) as indoors.