Since antiquity, the ritual of Misogi 禊 has been performed in Japan, the Ryukyu islands and all parts of Asia. In ancient times it was the Yamabushi 山伏, the ‘mountain hermits,’ that would perform such tasks as extended periods with no sleep, breath training and of course the infamous “standing or sitting under the waterfall in winter time.” Ceremonies such as these, represent the heart and soul of ancient East Asia that still finds it’s way into everyday circumstance. Take for example the salutation of ‘How are you?” – in Japanese one would say ‘O genki desu ka?’ お元気ですか? Note the word Ki in this common phrase. Ki is the word for life force, life breath, vital air or energy in the Japanese language. This is an example that underlies how integral the world view of life force, energy and the soul are central in Japanese vocabulary.
Yes, that’s cold water. Notice the ice and snow next to him. Brrrr!
In the traditional ‘old ways’ of Okinawa Kenpo practice, I personally knew of many Okinawan karate sensei that would participate in such ceremonies. I was lucky enough to study under the late Seikichi Odo. He introduced me to several Yuta (Traditional Okinawan Shaman) which performed various ceremonies including variances of Misogi and their applications within Okinawan Karate.