The dojo is a vessel. It is emptied and filled each day with our collective spirit, and its character reflects that spirit. The dojo is a training ground, a temple, a sanctuary, and most of all, a safe environment in which we can explore ourselves and the areas of our lives in which we have not been safe before. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety are the cornerstones of a dojo. As we generate this safety through our training, the deeper art begins. This is the art of finding our way. The word dojo means "way place": a place where one studies the Way.
Every human being has had a unique experience of life. Since our personal histories are different, our approaches to life are different, and so are our paths. Finding our way means finding our own personal path back to wholeness, well-being, and love which we all sense within and long for. Aikido training, practices, and attitudes give us a common ground on which to make our discovery among friends. We all recognize the difficulties of the path, and we all respect each other for walking it. There are many ways of honoring ourselves and each other. An explanation of dojo etiquette is included in this handbook. Please familiarize yourself with the courtesies described there. Keep in mind that courtesy is more than form: it is a communication between human beings. Each time you bow or otherwise exchange a greeting, you have a unique opportunity to express fully from your heart the respect and caring you hold for others. This is your true nature. It is commonly accepted in the martial arts that one can tell the level of technical as well as spiritual development of an individual simply by observing them bow.
For more on dojo etiquette, see this list.
The responsibility to keep the dojo clean is a communal one. In our Western culture we often tend to think of cleaning as a "chore", as demeaning work performed by others. It is important to our training that we transcend such ideas. To see work that needs to be done and to do it is, in and of itself, a special kind of training. The development of character and humility is equally as important as refining technique.
Please help clean the mat before and after each class. It only takes a few minutes for several people to sweep and/or damp-mop the mat each day. In this way we have the sense of a fresh start for all our training, and leave the dojo in a state that reflects our respect for what we are learning.