Ten Ways to Help Out at the Dojo

As a member of the dojo community we often want to make a contribution in some way. But as a beginner there’s often precious little we can do. We can’t teach. We often don’t know enough to jump in and take on dojo projects. But there are little ways we can help out. Keeping the dojo nice is one way any of us can do a little something.

Where Can a New Student Pitch In?

Sometimes we don’t notice the little details because we are looking at them all the time. And sometimes we just don’t know what do. As a new student you probably won’t even be aware of some of things that need doing. You won’t be qualified to take care of others.

On the other hand, when we are new to a situation we can see things with fresh eyes. We can spot issues needing attention when others may be overlooking them. And although you may be new to Aikido, you might bring other valuable skills to contribute. Maybe you are able to fix the sketchy WiFi router, know how to keep the garden healthy, or can patch drywall better than anyone else in town.

Photo of a clean, tidy dojo, with mats neatly stacked in one corner.

Some Ideas for Helping Out at the Dojo

Check with your dojo cho, sensei, or sempai (senior students) before taking on anything significant. Don’t clear the “old junk” out of the storage room or paint the walls a new color without asking first!

These are pretty safe ways to pitch in:

  1. Find a small area that doesn’t get cleaned often, and take it on. Like the shelves in the restroom, or the strips along the walls that daily vacuuming doesn’t get. These are usually little messes that people have stopped even noticing, but the place will look brighter and cleaner for your efforts.
  2. If you have a green thumb you could pull weeds, deadhead the old flowers, prune what needs pruning, or maybe bring a few new plants to fill in gaps in the landscaping.
  3. Wipe down the door jambs or baseboards.
  4. Wash the windows. Or just one window. Clean the mirrors.
  5. Seek and destroy all the cobwebs! Escort the spiders outdoors and turn them loose somewhere safe.
  6. Take the rags and towels home, wash and fold them, and return them.
  7. Take the rugs outside (far away from any open doors) and beat the dust out of them.
  8. Clean out the refrigerator, or the microwave.
  9. If you have dressing room curtains, vacuum the dust off them.
  10. Tidy up a closet or supply cabinet.

Taking care of your space is a small but meaningful way to support your dojo community. Make it a moving meditation, an act of gratitude, and enjoy.

A photo of a workbench at Empire Mine State Historic Park, covered with old woodworking tools. A sign on the wall behind the workbench reads: "A Clean Place is a Safe Place."
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