We sometimes talk about feeling “centered” in daily life as a synonym for being focused, balanced. And with good reason: physical posture/balance and mental/emotional states have been shown to be intimately related.  In martial arts the importance of finding your physical center – of balance, of gravity – is often stressed as a fundamental element of technique. But exactly why and how to find that center, and what to do with it, is often left unclear. Continue reading

Taki-shugyō: In Praise of Cold Showers


It’s summer in Tokyo. It’s hot and humid, in a way that can really take it out of you. I’ve discovered, however, that cold showers go a long way in helping get through these sauna-like days. I pretty often have two or sometimes even three a day (one in the morning and one in the evening; usually one after the gym or dojo). 

I started off doing the “James Bond shower” (also known as a “Scottish Shower”): starting hot, and gradually dialing back the temperature until at the end of the shower it was fully cold. That’s a pretty comfortable way to approach it, especially starting off. However, reading this inspired me to skip the gradual dial-back and just switch to simply flipping the water straight over to cold at the end, as a practice in controlling the flinch mechanism.

But cold showers aren’t just a great way to cool off (and learn to control your flinch mechanism); they can also have a meditative aspect (as well as a number of reputed health benefits).

In Japan there is a tradition known as taki-shugyō (滝修行): “waterfall training”. Continue reading