Japanese Tea Ceremonies and Hurdles


During one point in our relationship, one of my first and most influential fitness/training/life mentors had me read a copy of Cha-no-Yu, a guide to the Japanese Tea Ceremony. At the time I wasn’t certain whether I was to gain a specific insight via metaphor or he just really dug a well-prepared cup of Sencha. I recall us discussing how preparation for the ceremony, each stage, down to the last leaf being swept into the right pile in the correct location, was essential for the result; a steaming pot of perfectly brewed tea.

There may be no single extractable lesson in it but what we apply to different situations. There is the meditation on details, the importance of order, journey-not-destination concept. What I value most, at least right now, is the setting of the right environment, something that is essential for Autism Fitness programming.

Environment includes the space itself, the choice of equipment, the teaching or coaching style, and the preparedness to lightly boil a cup of Dynamax ball overhead throws. I think. Environment must be conducive to the success of the individual, whatever that may mean for the individual.

Some of my athletes need an environment in which standing on a pair of spot markers and attending to three seconds of instruction provides a wave of high praise and access to secondary reinforcement for long periods of time (Oh the amount of Disney musical numbers I’ve endured). Others need an environment in which I am quietly and with limited input guiding them through their own creative play. Hey, you want to set up the cones in a specific order? Do it. Jumps before squats? Have at it.

We set an environment for success, planning each stage, and being ready to go to plan D, E, or T based on what we are given that day. The contingency between planning for a good fitness session and the desired outcome cannot be overlooked. Maybe that was what Coach D planned for me to discover. Or maybe he was just texting “chalk up.”


Live Inspired,



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