Thoughts on training outside the dojo
In Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters, Grand Master Shoshin Nagamine discusses karate’s popularity in terms of the "anytime, anywhere, anyone" principle. "Simply put," Master Nagamine explains, "the practice of karate knows no limitations; there are no time, place, age, or gender restrictions. One can train any time, any place, and with anyone, or even by one self."
There is nothing like working out in a dojo. It is the core of our formal training. Hanshi Scaglione has stated that he has not missed a week without attending at least one class in a Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu dojo somewhere around the world. We are encouraged to train in as many dojo in our system as possible. When traveling we should always bring our gi, visit our brother and sister schools, and make a point of attending class.
However, many of us often find ourselves far from any dojo within Shorin-Ryu USA. I have found that doing kata outdoors in nature is a wonderful alternative. Recently I was on vacation in the Czech Republic. While traveling my favorite experiences were the ones in which I did kata. I gained insight into Rohai while observing the white heron on a lake near the small town of Trebon. Another morning I felt like protector of the king while practicing Wankan overlooking Krumlov Castle in Cesky Krumlov.
I believe that you give some of your spirit to any location in which you perform kata. Additionally, you take something away from a place once you have performed a kata there... something you could not otherwise gain. Sensei Mackay recently explained to a class a theory about doing kata in sand or fresh snow or autumn leaves. If you look down at the ground after performing a kata, you can see the signature of the master who composed it. Their signature is visible in your own footprints.
Each week try to do at least one kata in a place where you don’t normally practice karate. Let your imagination run wild.