Secret number 8:
We have reached the eighth position in this unusual ranking; the secret I want to disclose now is really one of the most important.
On the night before a competition have a beer; I know you might think I am kidding (teasing?) you, what on earth is Zanoni saying? I am completely serious: gather some friend from your national team, people you like to hang around, friends you like, go out, find a bar and drink a beer.
If I can find it, I always look for a draught red beer, because I love red beer, but any beer is fine.
This has two advantages: the first one is that beer helps getting rid of lactic acid so, if you had the good fortune to attend the seminar and practice iaido this is a good way to avoid excessive soreness in your muscles the next day.
The second advantage is that of freeing the mind: having to look for a bar in a (usually) unknown place, sitting in a completely unknown bar, pleasantly chatting with your friends about iaido, maybe, or maybe about something else. I find this is a great way to relieve any tension before a competition.
The camaraderie, the fact of being able to have fun and be happy, must be a part of practice. The mental preparation for an event like a competition must be as best as possible; spending the night thinking ahead about the competition, how will it be, what could go wrong and so on is the absolute worst thing to do. Better to get ready for competition spending a nice evening, drinking a couple of beers at most, have a good night’s sleep and in the morning let’s face the competition with the right focus and with our muscle relaxed because there are no actic acid residues.
A fun story
I owe this custum to Detlef. One night, before the competition at a European Championship in Paris, there was a small unpleasantness within the group; I was still young and quite hot tempered (now I am no longer “young”, I am still working on the “temper”) and I got indescribably angry. Detlef took me by the arm outside the hotel and lead me to a bar to relax in front of a good beer. After about an hour I was calm again and under control.