In my opinion, the dojo should be thought of as akin to a temple. A place to hold sacred, to respect, to want to visit and a place to serve as much as it serves you and all others who enter it. A dojo is a place where you enter and offer yourself to the training, the master and teacher, your seniors and all those that have gone before. You must come not with your cup empty…..as you cannot (nor should you) put aside past knowledge, but your mind should always be open and thoughtful.
As you enter this temple, shoes should be removed and placed neatly out of others way. This is for cleanliness but also because the matted area should be thought of as sacred and you must not walk upon it with the rubbish on your shoes from the outside world. It is just not done.
Your mind should be focused on the present moment and bad feelings from the day left behind. Now is the time to focus on the moment. You are here . It is your place and you are amongst friends and training partners that support each other through tough training sessions and gradings, and help each other to learn.
In the dojo you should be safe to find out your truth. Be respectful to all people at all times and be a part of building and maintaining that culture. Remember….there will be times when your guard will drop and you will be hit. Times when you won’t be ready and you will fall or buckle over from a good strike or kick, or be choked or submitted. Times when you just feel exhausted and want to quit. These should be considered your best times. The times when you learnt about yourself, your weaknesses and see a way to improve on them. Remember to support others through their times of weakness or finding their truth. You will know when you see it. As I said…one day it will be you.
Accept criticism with humility. You are not perfect. No one is. But you came to learn….so allow the learning to happen. Receive the lessons from all. The instructor. Your fellow students and especially the lower ranks. They have things to teach you too, even if it is just about yourself.
Always give your best at the dojo. Sometimes your best is just turning up. Whatever you have to give…..if it’s only 80% for any reason…then give 100% of that 80% . Doing this creates a mentality that shall serve you well both in and out of the dojo.
Most of all….look after your dojo. Wiping down the mats after class is a small part of this. If you see equipment left out….put it away. Even if you weren’t the one who left it. Someone has to do it. Why not you ? It’s not a big thing to help look after your training area. Behaving in this manner shows you care about the place in which you spend so much time, where you learn and creates a feeling of belonging and/or ownership. If you make a mess…clean it. Don’t leave training gear…or belongings behind. Take your stuff home and clean and air it out. Showing up to the dojo with a clean dogi and un-stinky gloves, shin pads etc is a direct reflection of the care and pride you feel towards your training and your own self respect also.
Enjoy your training and remember why you started. Constantly seek to review your goals. Honour your training commitment to yourself and your instructor and be a proud and respectful Representative of your club and your style.