In addition to our regular indoor taekwondo and meditation classes, we hold outdoor practices at least once each month. These events take different forms: a straightforward hike with your fellow trainees, a conditioning-oriented practice that takes advantage of natural terrain, or (twice each year) a multi-day, high-mileage, off-grid training retreat in the West Virginia mountains. Even within the confines of DC, getting out in nature has immediate physical and psychological benefits, putting us in an environment with few modern distractions and where basic needs such as water, food, and protection from the elements take precedence. Much as we aim to keep our indoor training environment as simple as possible to encourage focused practice, such an uncomplicated environment already exists outside with less contrivance plus the chance for real engagement with the natural world.
Beyond experiencing the authenticity of nature, outdoor training aims to foster increased awareness of our surroundings, fellow team members, and state of mind. To this end, a staple skill taught at these events is basic land navigation using a map and compass. To move from point A to point B effectively as a group (or groups) requires that everybody know where they are, have a sense of the pace needed to stay on schedule, and be comfortable enough with their own situation to keep an eye on their teammates and lend a hand as necessary.
What should I expect from a typical outdoor training event?
The majority of our outdoor practices are hikes in Rock Creek Park ranging from 6-12 miles. (Mileage for events will be announced in advance.) Outdoor training is rarely cancelled because of weather, so in preparation dress for the elements, wear proper shoes, and carry water and snacks. Advice on gear and what to bring for a specific event is readily available from our senior members. As with our meditation classes, a sensible tea break is a staple feature of our hikes.