Students need to clean the dojo every day; some will say it is good for discipline, others say it is bad for your business! It is difficult for some people to understand this point and many a new student does not understand or appreciate how this relates to one’s discipline and development. They may ask, what does that have to do with martial arts? In many ways it has nothing to do with our martial art, but everything to do with one’s personal growth. The “unseen” benefit we gain from our training.
Cleaning should become an integral part of our daily practice here not only in the dojo but in all aspects of one’s life. Cleaning is a “responsibility” to take care of everything we use. It is our respect for everything we come in contact with. About caring for everything and everyone around us. The process of cleaning itself has no merit or reward but it teaches purity of spirit, an intangible spirituality that helps form the basis of our training. Within the “cleaning” process we not only gain purity, but we also gain insight, deeper awareness, and attention to detail. Looking for dust and dirt to clean also transfers to our seeing the opening from the attack, our ability to assess the spaces we enter and most of all keeping our minds clear.
The process of cleaning is not just about making the natural space presentable and pure, it is about constantly letting go of the sometimes mindless, negative, and wasteful thoughts that cloud our minds keeping us from seeing/understanding and experiencing the pure natural beauty of our lives. The habit of cleaning allows us not to get stuck, so we can move on and to be here now.
At the end of each year the tradition of “O soji” or big cleaning is done in most every Japanese home and dojo. Symbolically it is to clean out our minds of illusions we build up and begin fresh and clean in the New Year. It is the New Year, 2023, let us start clean and aspire to what the year of the Rabbit symbolizes; elegance, beauty, and mercy as we share anew our friendships both on and off the mats.
Andrew M. Sato January 2023
Chief Instructor ~ AWA