Every year, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo holds a kangeiko (寒稽古), a special period of training taking place over the coldest days of winter. During this 10-days period, practitioners are encouraged to practice every day for at least one class. This year, the kangeiko took place from the 23rd of January to the 1st of February.
Kangeiko is a widespread practice within the martial arts world and it is originally meant as a time for testing one's resistance and discipline as well as a cleansing procedure for one's spirit. Kangeiko, like many other martial traditions, is inherited from Shinto and Buddhist traditions; it often included purification rituals such as bathing in the sea or cold water streams seen in misogi. Interestingly, these practices were regularly performed by the founder of Aikido Morihei Ueshiba.
Kangeiko 2012 tenugui bearing the seal of Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba
Nowadays, kangeiko is more of a social event and it is an opportunity for the casual practitioner to push the envelope a little bit. With the busy Tokyo lifestyle, people can sometimes find difficult to find time for practice between and exhausting job and a family to care for. The more dedicated Aikidoka see it as sort of nice milestone that comes every year, like a reminder of the time spent training and the road still ahead.
Kangeiko 2012 certificate
Upon completion of the kangeiko, practitioners receive a certificate from the Aikikai as well as a tenugui (手拭い), a traditional, cotton hand towel personally signed by the Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba. This year, 115 practitioners participated and their names were published as every year on the board of the second floor of the Hombu Dojo.
Congratulations to everyone who participated and see you this summer for the Shochugeiko (暑中稽古), the summer training!
Kangeiko 2012 list of participants