Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SOJI—The Way of Cleaning

It is an important part of karate. Taking pride in one's dojo and participating in activities within the dojo that reap no rewards or merit is a fundamental concept within the study of karate. By participating in soji, students develop a sense that practicing at a dojo is more than just a physical act. It is a part of the cultural experience that cultivates spirit and deeper understanding of what it means to study karate. At a traditional dojo, soji is seen as part of the rigid discipline and training demanded by budo.

For the past few weeks I have been participating in remodeling of  our dojo. I was aware of the practice of soji and have always tried to do my bit in keeping the dojo clean and tidied up at the end of the class. This remodeling, however, has been something much, much more.

Ever since I started in karate, I have had the urge to do more for my dojo and for Sensei Laurie. The work now going on in the dojo has given me the opportunity to be able to do just that. I have a fair amount of experience with home renovating so I was very happy to be able to offer these skills to help with the dojo's refit.

Sensei Laurie has talked about making our dojo into a more traditional-looking dojo. This has meant a fairly big change. We have been repainting, fixing some minor plumbing issues, building a storage cabinet and change rooms, remounting the mirrors at the front of the dojo and a number of other small jobs.

It has been great to see how many people have pitched in to make all of this happen. It very clearly shows just how interested our members are. For me, it has been particularly rewarding because I have been able to provide the skills needed for most of the construction end of things. It has given me a real sense of belonging to and giving back to the dojo.

It has been quite a fun experience working with a number of the other adult members. There has been the bantering back and forth about colours to be chosen. Apparently there are more variations of the colours white and black than I ever imagined. (I didn't even think they were colours.) Working with members on planning what changes to make and what additions to add has been quite a group effort.

Initially, I was wondering why Sensei Laurie was going to the lengths she was going to in order to get input from as many of the adult members as she could. In my mind, it is her dojo, so why debate or even discuss these changes. She picks, we do. How mistaken I was.

People now have a sense of ownership and more than that, a feeling of real belonging. I have seen the pride in people's faces and felt it in my own heart. We have put our sweat into this dojo with the workouts and practices, but now we have put a real part of ourselves into it as well.

We still have a fair bit of work to do but we are getting there and everyone has seen what a great change this has made in our dojo and the pride it has given us to be able to give back. Sensei Laurie hopes to have a grand reopening before the end of the month. We are looking forward to this and to adding our sweat to the floor of the dojo we belong to and help build (in more ways than one).

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