Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Inside and Outside of the Dojo

Below is an excerpt from a very good piece from The Thoughtful Sensei - Aikido Musings regarding the difference between inside and outside of the dojo. The full post may be read here.

What we do in the dojo needs to be as real as we can possibly (and safely) make it.  It’s Budo.  It is not a sport.  It is not a game.  It is an activity where we practice the very serious art of controlled violence where mistakes have consequences and even the little things can often be critical so everyone’s head must always be on straight.  The quantum 8-dimensional algorithm may therefore be stated as:

PIE (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional) ………….. R (Reigisaho) Squared. 

Reigisaho can be considered many times more important than simple PIE.  PIE can be looked at as how “teachable” a student is (a measurement of their capacity and potential so-to-speak).  R (Reigisaho) can be looked at as “how seriously” that student views the training and whether they develop the proper mental attitude to understand that the dojo (and indeed Budo) are not sports nor are they games.  Reigisaho should then be looked at as R-Squared.  Maybe even R-Cubed and beyond.  That is how important Reigisaho is to the life of a dojo and to its’ existence in the Budo-Verse.

A dojo, if one pauses to consider, is an unrealistic and impractical idea; a waste in the business sense of unoccupied space and underutilized facilities since 24/7 classes are impossible.  Many Sensei have described the dojo in their own fashion so there are many ways to consider the idea of the existence of such a place.  A place of competition?  No.  A place of combat?  No.  A place of pure contemplation?  No.  A place of self-realization and enlightenment?  No.  An institution of learning?  No.  A place of social discourse?  No. 

What then?

It is not a gymnasium, a sports bar, a church, a social club, a rec center, a temple or monastery, a beer or dance hall, a business or a corporation.  Some Sensei have used the term “sacred place” although that term while more complete than others, is still insufficient.  It’s not even a school although most of the advertising one sees describes it as such because the normal Western civilian is simply unable to grasp the idea that it is something beyond a mere “school” per se.

It is also not a “physical” place.  Yes; it has walls, roof, floors, and other structures that one can walk into and “be” within, but a dojo is more a mental and spiritual state of being than of mere body.  Yes; the dojo is a physical manifestation of the ideals of Budo, and a dojo is said to absorb the “energy” of those who train and spend time there to the point that a sensitive can enter and “feel” those energies.  

A Dojo however is better considered a larger existence with all other descriptive possibilities attaching themselves to that one point; a locus as-it-were.

We all work and struggle and rejoice and suffer in our efforts to prosper or just to survive in our society with its emphasis on achievement, money, politics, etc. so the dojo becomes an offset to that life-battle.  It becomes a space that exists for our larger selves, and that space is energized by us going beyond the binary yes-no, win-lose idea.  The dojo needs several things that create, support, and maintain its “being”.  Those are within the overall encompassing aspects of Reigisaho.

There is a widely told teaching story in Budo concerning kendo and kickboxing.  A high-level championship shiai is held and when the winner is declared there are two differing reactions.  In the kendo match the facial expression of the winner and of the loser both remain the same with no real emotion.  The winner is the one who first bows (to the loser) to show his respect for the efforts made by him.  The respect from each to each is obvious.  In the kickboxing match when the winner is declared, the winner begins to raise his hands in the air, jump up and down and beat his chest as-if to gloat and disrespect the loser.  Two different reactions.  Two different personalities.  Only one understands.

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