The British media and I imagine their counterparts around the world, are making the most of the Football World Cup. As well as the live action and replays of the action, hours of airtime are devoted to fill-in conversation, so we get to listen to a variety of pundits giving their views on every possible element of the competition and the game generally.
I caught the end of a drive time radio discussion where one of the commentators who had been a successful player back in the 70s was talking about taking drinking water onto the pitch and that in his playing days it was unheard of. If players needed to drink they could only do so at half time.
This made me reflect that in kendo in those days there was also a strong reluctance to take fluids into a kendo practice. I have never heard a rationale for not doing so, but during the time I trained in Japan, even on the hottest summer day; you never saw a water bottle in the dojo. Once keiko was over it was a different story. Cold drinks were often shared and distributed and I have drunk sports drinks, barley tea and on some occasions beer or even sake in the dojo.
In many dojo the ethos was to build up a thirst and take it to the nearest beer hall or aka chochin to replace the fluid lost in the training. Towards the end of my last summer in Japan, I started to develop kidney problems as I was losing two or three kilos of sweat per session and topping it up with the equivalent amount of nama birru.
These days almost everyone understands the importance of hydration in sport, but many of us drink less water than we should. Perhaps this reluctance is purely practical, typically in kendo you keep your men on until you are told to take it off. Although there are a number of sports drinking bottles with extendible straws or tubes that could go through the mengane, in my experience few of them are easy to use and sloping off for a drink while others are training hard, somehow seems contrary to the ethos of kendo.
I now always take a bottle of water to keiko and if I am running the session, I always allow a break for drinks between kihon and jigeiko. It somehow seems more in keeping with dojo etiquette if we all stop, take off our men and kote take in fluid and then resume practice together. If it is very hot, which is seldom is in the UK; I will add another drinks break. Even then we can usually still find room for a beer after.
Coming back to the World Cup, I am not sure who to support. On one hand there is national pride at stake, on the other I drew the USA in the office sweepstake. I am still trying to negotiate whether I can transfer the ticket for a bet on the Baseball World Series.