New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Beach Training

Here's how my day went today. I'm sure it was exactly like yours, with minor differences.

I set the alarms for 2:00 a.m. but woke up and got out of bed at 1:52 a.m. I was glad to be able to turn off the alarms (I set two) before they disturbed Jenn. In the darkness I showered, dressed, gathered my things, and took the subway into Manhattan. The picture above is of the subway platform at Graham Avenue in Brooklyn as I was heading into Manhattan.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, once a year my karate dojo holds an event known as Beach Training where everybody meets at Rockaway Beach and has an outdoor workout and beach picnic. The black belts are expected to arrive by 4:30 a.m. and the colored belts are expected by 9:00 a.m.

I could have taken the A train to the beach, but it seemed like a sketchy idea for 3:30 a.m. and I thought it would be fun to take the bus to the beach from the dojo. Therefore I made my way to the dojo at 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue and took a yellow school bus with 14 of my karate friends to Rockaway. The bus drove most of the way along Flatbush Avenue. It was interesting to see all the late-night partiers while we were soberly on our way to a sunrise karate event. A different perspective.

I should apologize now for my lack of action photos of our karate event, but I couldn't have the camera with me as we were going through our meditation and excercises, and frankly I'm glad I wasn't burdened with it, because we had an amazing experience.

The month of August is significant in Japanese culture because they believe their friends and relatives who have passed away are close in spirit during that month. Therefore, Japanese people hold memorial services and do special things in rememberance of people who have passed on.

Following in that tradition, the black belts begin training in the pre-dawn darkness, kneeling in seiza position at the edge of the ocean and meditating. We stayed like this for about a half hour as the sun rose. In all I'd say there were about a hundred of us (most finding their own transportation to the beach).

The sun rose brilliantly. It appeared from the east bright pink like cotton candy. I was transfixed. After we finished our meditation we worked out with bo staffs, doing fighting techniques into the waves. We plunged forward as waves crashed over our heads.

Then we went for a very wet run along the beach into the sunrise, holding our bo staffs. Marvelous.

After more workout, we broke for breakfast. People had food to share, and everybody got together and appreciated the amazing scene. It was about 7:15 a.m. and the weather was cooperating much more than it had last year. The colored belts would start arriving in an hour for the second workout.

Here are some pictures I took during this time. The first is a picture of me.

That picture of me was taken by my friend David, who is the man on the right in this next photo. He's a doctor in a men's prison, which I would consider a tough job. He says every one of the knuckleheads in that prison deserves to be there. The guy on the left I didn't know too well, but we had a nice conversation and he said he is a subway operator and sometimes drives the A train, which I found interesting.

The photo below is of our flag and banner, flapping in the ocean breeze.

And here's a shot of part of our group area, at rest. Again, sorry I don't have action shots, but I was in the action and couldn't shoot.

Here's another partial group shot.

The colored belts arrived and we had our second workout. Since there were several hundred people in all, we were divided into ten teams. I was a co-captain of team 6. Again we all had a group workout, then broke into our teams and worked out some more, which included doing pushups in the surf, with waves breaking over you and black belts piling wet sand on your back to make it harder.

Finally at the end we organized a relay race where we made "horses" consisting of three people forming a base, holding a "jocky" on their collective shoulders. We had to race through the surf to a certain point where people were waiting to tag us, and then we raced back to the beach. We didn't win the race, but we didn't fall down either, which is saying a lot.

After the second workout ended, I gathered my stuff, rinsed off a bit in the beach shower, and took the subway home. At home I kissed Jenn hello, took a shower, ate a bagel she had gotten for me, and took a two-hour nap. It was a nice day.


Blogger Jenn said...

Sounds like a truly amazing experience. And to think I slept through almost all of it! I can't remember the last time I actually woke up to see the sun rise.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Great pictures. Sounds like a great experience all around. Like that T.V. ad for the military from years ago: "We do more before 9am than most people do all day" (or something like that)

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

This sounds amazing! While I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago we saw a small (20 person?) Capoeira group in-circle doing their thing on the beach, and we were transfixed (tearing ourselves away after about a half hour only because we had to return the rental-bikes). Seemed like an amazing way to really raise the spiritual/physical connection of that kind of workout.
Your day sounds incredibly transcendent... both of the moment as well as something that would resonate through following days. It's awsome that you seek and persue such experiences.

1:37 PM  

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