It’s about 6:45pm. Most of the kids from class have left for the evening; one or two remain as their parents step onto the mat, curled up in a chair with a book or a portable game system. The first adult class of the evening has just concluded warmups; the mat, as usual, is packed with students. The sky, already darker now that fall is upon us, is darker still: thick heavy rainclouds sit overhead, making the lights in the dojo seem all the brighter. Students have partnered up to begin studying tsuki kotegaeshi; the air is warm from the energy of training.
A sounds starts to catch everyone’s attention. It is quiet at first, a subtle drumming on the roof of the building. The clouds overhead have finally decided it was time to rain, and the gentle downpour echos throughout the dojo. Soon, the sound grows more and more intense; the rain has shifted from a simple downpour to hail. It is the sound of a stampede, or, as one student put it: a standing ovation. No longer a gentle noise, the hail and rain hitting the roof with power and insistence. It is impossible to speak, impossible to hear–the noise is deafening. So we do not try; instead, each student focuses on training, the usual sounds of the dojo–people landing on the mat, feet shuffling across the floor–almost literally drowned out, as the echoing rain and hail continues to make its statement. It is an oddly meditative time, quiet despite the noise. We are, for the moment, uninterested in learning, uninterested in teaching; we are only interested in training.
The rain continued on, until class had nearly ended. It was almost as if the rain had decided it needed its own time on the mat for a while. It was quite a moment, and it left everyone with a very positive feeling.
(Just had to share this experience while it was still fresh in my mind. I truly wish I had a means of recording the sound as the rain hit. It was awe-inspiring.)