Naginata in 2020

We are living in turbulent times. The pandemic and its counter measurers are causing us to be apart.
The world around is getting harder while people respond to their fears, feelings of individual entitlement and uncertainties.
It can be hard to not get dragged down into the negativity and confusion that surrounds us.
For this reason it is necessary to have something that grounds you.
Something that keeps you in a rhythm and clears your mind.

I believe that the continued practice of Naginata during times like this can give that grounding.
Luckily, there have been several initiatives that people joined during the lock down all around the world.

On Facebook people shared foto’s of zoom sessions in South America where people have used this time to create
an international group and enhanced the unity on the American continents.
This is a great example that sometimes being limited in something can open up new opportunities to create something even bigger.

In the beginning of April, Aspire dojo in London started their “Naginata at Home” sessions.
Charlotte Vandersleyen invited different people to instruct a session (with and without naginata) every Wednesday.
People from all over the world joined in.
Today there are already 23 sessions to be found online.
You can find the videos on YouTube:

In the past few months many of us have tried to keep our practice going.
Some people organized sessions online or went outside into parcs and onto tennis courts.
As I am writing this on August 31st 2020, in the Netherlands today the new school year starts and with that it’s the new
season for Naginata practice.

With that it’s also the first practice of my dojo in Capelle aan den IJssel.
Our last practice at this dojo was in March, so we are very happy to be starting again.

Because of the pandemic and this being an indoor practice we are starting today’s practice with a few changes to what we have been used to before.

We try to minimize the risk of contamination by following these basic rules:

         1. If we feel sick or if we have a cold. We stay home.
         2. We get dressed at home so we don’t need to share the dressing room.
         3. We use our own equipment.
         4. We do not use kiai or a loud voice.
         5. We keep our distance from others (a minimum of 1,5 meters).
         6. All attendees to the practice are registered (in case people need to be informed about a possible contamination).

We will start out with above rules and only do individual practice until people are used to the rules.

After this we will do more during.

         1. We use a face mask on all paired exercises without bogu (shikake-oji/uchikaeshi).
         2. We use a face shield in our men when we use bogu.

Each of these measurers to reduce the risk of contamination have been discussed with the dojo members so they can make the choice if these measurers are acceptable for them to return to practice.
As can be imagined, people with family in high-risk categories can still decide that the risk of contamination is still too high with these measures.
So for now, we just do what we can do. Some come to the adjusted practices. Some decide to wait and continue online.
The most important thing is. We don’t get lost in everything that we cannot do, but find our own way to keep going, keep growing and learning.

Do not give up.