So in the summer our dojo can get pretty warm. It is a brown cinderblock industrial building with a black tar roof. There is no insulation and the exterior wall of the dojo gets direct sunlight from mid-afternoon on so the building just soaks up the heat. We have a window but no cross-breeze so the heat just builds even if it is cooler outside. Since we put in a couple of layers of rigid insulation and sheet rocked that wall it no longer feels like a radiator on summer evenings but often it is in the mid 90s or more in there when we start. I know for certain that on the 2 days I have canceled training it was over 110.
For the last 5 years we have shared an AC unit with the contracting company we share the building with. It definitely helped take the edge off but on the hotter days it didn’t really make it any more than just-bearable. Our thanks to them for sharing- without it we would have not been able to train in the space on some evenings. It is under powered for the whole space and us being ducted in definitely reduced the efficiency for them, so it was more than just a gesture. But today thanks to some generously donated effort and time from Bob we now have a brand new ductless AC in the dojo. That should make some of those evenings just a little more bearable from now on.
The traditional party line is that AC is verboten in a dojo. Deal with the exterior temperature, summer or winter! Be tough! Get in touch with nature! You can’t dictate your environment, you have to deal with it! It’s hot in Okinawa, isn’t it? Sure. It is hot in Okinawa. In August it is brutal. And sometimes they turn on fans. Some dojo even have AC. And, shh, it’s a secret, some sensei will cancel training if it is too hot. Most folks also train in the evenings when the temp goes down, in buildings designed for the climate, so they have ventilation and cool down in the evenings. So 90 and fairly humid, fine. Assuming you are reasonably healthy and pay attention to how your body feels it is a little rough but no problem. But 110, humid, and no air movement? 110 inside when it is 80 or so outside is not natural conditions. I don’t know about you but I believe that training is supposed to make you healthier. Training in conditions like that is similar to slamming your fist into a concrete wall. In the short term it proves how tough you are, but in the long term it damages to your body. That is not toughening up it is just being dumb.
I don’t really like AC. I barely ever use it at home and I much prefer a fan in the dojo if needed- the conditioned air on my skin or a wet gi doesn’t feel that great. But I like the symptoms of hyperthermia even less. It can simply be too hot to train safely, and I would rather control the climate in the dojo than not train, so given our conditions this is a pretty cool thing!
Even cooler is the contribution Bob has made to the dojo. He didn’t have to spend his time doing it. Sure he benefits, but it is really a gift to the group as a whole. It is one of things I love about our dojo. Every time I enter the space I see the work the community has put in- gifts from teachers and friends, David helping make the space possible, Corey, Tania, Mike P, Per, David, Mike L, Jill, Mike Ph, Jay, Jim, Keith, MaryPat, and everyone else I have not named laying the floor, plastering, cleaning, painting, hanging drywall, setting the makiwara, etc., etc. And now Bob putting in the AC. The space shows the care that everyone who trains with us has for it. Much as our actual martial arts are, the dojo is a clear demonstration of effort and dedication. I like being reminded that our space is not a gift, and not something we just buy, but that it has required the shared work of our whole dojo community. Thanks for the latest contribution Bob, that is pretty cool.