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. 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.

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. Here are some ideas. They will of course vary between dojo. Check with your dojo cho, sensei, or sempai before taking on anything too risky (like painting the walls a new color!). These things are probably pretty safe ways to pitch in:

  1. Pick a small area that doesn’t get cleaned often, and take it on. Like a cabinet, or the strips along the walls that daily vacuuming doesn’t get.
  2. If you have a green thumb, pull weeds, deadhead the old flowers, prune what needs pruning, or maybe bring a few 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.
  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.

Facing a Shut Gate

Large-Closed-Gates-Empire-Mine

Sensei has announced that there will be an uchi-deshi program at our dojo, beginning in mid-summer [this was in 2011]. You can contact him for details (via the Aikido of San Diego website) if you are interested in participating.

It looks to me like a rare and valuable opportunity to train intensively, deepen one’s understanding of Aikido, learn to teach, test one’s own limits, and discover new possibilities, all under the guidance of a truly gifted teacher.

It also looks to me like a right of passage. Forging, like seeing combat, for a future military officer. A gateway. How one moves from casual student to serious practitioner.

Right now I’m not in a place to walk through that gateway. I don’t know if I ever will be. I hope, maybe, somehow, someday… There’s a little fear and frustration about that. What if I’m not able? What if it’s not there? A sense of loss. And there’s reminding myself that upset from thwarted intention just points to a commitment.

It’s OK, though. There are cracks to peek through, high places where one can see over, and a lot of space to explore on this side of the wall. For now.

[Added the next day…] And now I’m seeing that there is more than one gate. Not feeling so stuck on this side. :-)