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stern9631
11-11-2004, 09:01 AM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?

Greg Jennings
11-11-2004, 09:18 AM
Jon,

How does the dojo stay clean enough to train there if the members do not do the cleaning?

Regards,

jester
11-11-2004, 09:29 AM
If you take it out, put it back. If you eat it, replace it. If you get it dirty, clean it.

These are simple life lessons that we all should have learned when we are pre-teens.

It's simple etiquette that you clean up. In the army, It's overkill on the cleaning, but it does humble you, and it's a lesson that is worth the time you put into it.

MaryKaye
11-11-2004, 09:30 AM
I think it's important because it makes two statements: I'm connected enough to this dojo to take care of it, and I'm a working member of the community rather than a passive recipient of teaching. When I ran a religious group, we found that people who wouldn't contribute to clean-up almost never became productive long-term members. Either they would lack commitment to stay through hard times, or they would turn out to be problems in other regards (taking without giving).

Technically, well, my dojomates tease me constantly that mopping will be on my shodan test, because it's about the worst thing I do. I can't master that butt-in-the-air position so I crawl back and forth across the dojo instead. If nothing else it's training in persevering against embarrassment....

After John sensei's classes I'm usually gasping on the mat, but shame makes me get up and mop anyway. That's definitely training too.

There is probably something going on in Japan that we can't copy, but I think there are things going on here that are valuable--we'd lose something if we hired a cleaning service or stuck a few people with all of the clean-up duties.

Mary Kaye

Demetrio Cereijo
11-11-2004, 09:47 AM
Jon,

How does the dojo stay clean enough to train there if the members do not do the cleaning?

Regards,

Contacting a professional cleaning service is un-aiki?

Qatana
11-11-2004, 09:51 AM
Demetrio can you personally afford to pay a professional cleaning service? Because I personally am mot interested in my dojo fees going up to $20.00 a class just to avoid having to wash the mats myself. And I'm sure your dojo mates will agree that it is a wonderful Service that you have provided.

SeiserL
11-11-2004, 09:52 AM
IMHO, taking responsibility for the mess we make is part of training, maturity, and general good manners. Not thinking things are beneath us is part of humility. If you invest your energy in your training, invest some energy in the place you train.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-11-2004, 10:13 AM
I understand the economic aspect of the members cleaning the dojo, and i support it, of course (and paying for the cleaning is taking responsability, you work for the money and money invested come from working hours).

I also support the communitary working for the general benefit and the social relations generated between dojo mates doing things in common.

But cleaning the dojo as a way to humbling people, or as a part of the training, needs more ellaboration to be justifiable imho.

Yours.

stern9631
11-11-2004, 10:47 AM
So, is cleaning training how to be humble?

How does that make you any better at Aikido?

Is that apart of the fee for service attutide that many people have?

Is it necessary to be humble to become an effective practitioner?

ian
11-11-2004, 11:01 AM
Hmm. I think being prepared to help in the dojo with cleaning reflects an internal attitdue which is also useful for performing aikido effectively. I think it's most accurately expressed through a concept of 'impartiality' i.e. if you are not partial to yourself you will not try and 'beat' the opponent, and thus are better at blending. Similarly it is easier to see yourself as a functioning and integral aspect of your environment and society and you don't have the feeling that you are 'loosing out' by cleaning.

However there is a difference between humility and submission, and I think much of japanese cultural structure relates to a strong hierarchy where the lower ranks are expected to be submissive.

Choku Tsuki
11-11-2004, 11:08 AM
Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?

Are you a taker or a giver? Deeds trump words. Cleaning is proof you are a giver too.

aikidoc
11-11-2004, 11:10 AM
"But cleaning the dojo as a way to humbling people, or as a part of the training, needs more ellaboration to be justifiable imho."

First, it puts everyone involved at the same level-there are no black belts of dojo cleaning. It also teaches people responsibility for and commaraderie with their community. It shows respect for the teaching and the dojo and its environment as well as fellow students (no one wants to train in other people's sweat and dirt). It also demonstrates respect for the health of others (that dirt thing again).

Unfortunately, in some dojos where multiple groups train the following group often ends up cleaning the dirt from the previous group. Disrespectful and unconscionable IMHO.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-11-2004, 11:32 AM
First, it puts everyone involved at the same level-there are no black belts of dojo cleaning. It also teaches people responsibility for and commaraderie with their community. It shows respect for the teaching and the dojo and its environment as well as fellow students (no one wants to train in other people's sweat and dirt). It also demonstrates respect for the health of others (that dirt thing again).

Unfortunately, in some dojos where multiple groups train the following group often ends up cleaning the dirt from the previous group. Disrespectful and unconscionable IMHO.

Well, responsability, respect for the teaching, the environment and others health or safety is one thing. Humbling people is another thing.

Kevin Masters
11-11-2004, 11:41 AM
I hear the voice of my sempai at the end of class: "It's everybody's job to clean the dojo!"

In regard to the Japanese culture I thought of this article I read a while back:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/rogers/rogers50.html
It's about Kumiai, he seems to get to the point somewhere halfway through the page.

Dario Rosati
11-11-2004, 11:52 AM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training?

Personally, I think that today it's nothing more than a "trick" to keep dojo fees low, masqueraded as training :)
Nothing better than a few uchideshi that do the "dirty" works for you (cleaning, cooking, shopping)... they pay to be uchideshi AND work for you... oh, the paradise ;)

Seriously speaking, I think it depends on dojo policy.
I'm going in the classical "container" structure, where a single hall hosts a lot of martial arts. Since I pay both the host and sensei, I'm expecting (and infact they do) that the host is responsible for dojo & shower maintenance; I will refuse to clean the dojo, in this situation, even if directly asked to.
I've gladly helped sensei bringing 200 mq of tatami 300 km away for a seminar, but it's different in principle.

In a "familiar" dojo, where fees are low or unexistent, and cleaning is clearly stated in advance to be on student responsibility, I'll gladly do it.

It's a matter of "clear pacts, long friendship".

Personally, I don't think cleaning has much to do with training; maybe once, but today I think the correlation between cleaning and humbleness is weak to non existent. What if a student is a professional cleaner? :)

Bye!

stern9631
11-11-2004, 11:53 AM
Are you a taker or a giver? Deeds trump words. Cleaning is proof you are a giver too.

I generally clean the toilet and then help doing other things.

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2004, 12:20 PM
But cleaning the dojo as a way to humbling people, or as a part of the training, needs more ellaboration to be justifiable imho.

Yours.
Well, Demetrio. You have quite the elevated sense of importance if you think that you're above cleaning the dojo. This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Yes it's good for the dojo but its also good for you. Nobody suffers from putting the requirements of the group, in this case the dojo community, ahead of their own. Many of the Shihan you train under did more than their share of cleaning over the years. Yamada Sensei wasn't even accepted as an uchi deshi initially. He took to going into the dojo early every morning and cleaning until they finally realized he was serious and wasn't going to go away.

You get out what you put in. If you think you should be one of those guys who shows up, trains, and then disappears then you will never even come close to having the kind of relationship with your peers and with the dojo which you should have. When I trained at the Seattle School of Aikido under Mary heiny Sensei I would often go in on a Sunday to train a while on my own. Then I would clean the whole place myself. You put that kind of attention on a place and it becomes yours in a very real way.

My own students take care of everything at the dojo. Because they have a feeling of relationship with the physical space they are in they feel free to do imporovements on it. I came back from Winter break a couple of years ago and the had remodeled the entire place. They did this themsleves over Xmas break as my present for our 10th anniversary. You better believe that they have an investment in the place on an emotional level.

Commercial cleaning service indeed...

Larry John
11-11-2004, 12:55 PM
From the ASU Training Handbook, Third Edition:

"Rules of the Dojo:

- This dojo follows the traditional rules of proper conduct. Its spirit comes directly from the Founder of Aikido and it is the place of the succession of his teachings. It is the responsibility of each student to cooperate in creative a positive atmosphere of harmony and respect and to honor those teachings.

- Cleaning is an active prayer of thanksgiving. It is each student's responsibility to assist in cleaning the dojo and to cleanse his or her own mind and heart.

- You cannot buy technique. The monthly membership rules provide a place for training and a way in which to show gratitude for the teaching received ...

- There will be no power struggles within the dojo. The dojo membership is one family and the secret of Aikido is harmony.

Misogi: Purification of mind, body, and spirit. Sweating is misogi; cleaning is misogi; fasting is misogi; keiko is misogi."

At the risk of sounding like the old stick in the mud that my daughters have always believed I'd become, I like these rules and the spirit that underlies them. Normally, I hate having to do routine cleaning at home or the office. But I'm happy to do it at the dojo.

I want the place I train to be a real community based on the idea of self-improvement, not a business based on cold economic transactions.

I want it to be run in a professional manner, with clearly articulated rules and responsibilities; sound planning and resource management; and a focus on safe, effective training and pedagogy. And I want its leaders to be intellectually curious and open to diverse opinions and experiences.

It's all summed up in this statement on the dojo web site.

"... [Our dojo] is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors elected from and by the membership. Instead of paying for individual lessons, students pay monthly membership dues. All students assist in the maintenance of the dojo. We pride ourselves on maintaining the dojo -- not only as a place for serious Aikido training and discipline -- but also as a place with a sense of belonging and concern for each other."

I hope you are successful in determining and finding whatever it is you're looking for in a dojo.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-11-2004, 12:59 PM
Well, Demetrio. You have quite the elevated sense of importance if you think that you're above cleaning the dojo.

Sorry, but your assumption amazes me. Why do you think that i think i'm above cleaning the dojo.

Let's clear this: I'm not above anything/anybody, i asked for more ellaborate answers.

I agree with some of the answers and don't agree with others, and everybody is entitled to have his own opinions and manage his dojos as they want. I respect all of them.

This is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

A traditional practice is not better or worse than a modern practice, it's traditional. A lot of traditional practices have been discarded in benefit of the humanity and a lot of modern practices also need to be discarded for the same reason.

If you think you should be one of those guys who shows up, trains, and then disappears then you will never even come close to having the kind of relationship with your peers and with the dojo which you should have

Unless you have some sobrenatural powers, i doubt you can know what i think, what i do in my dojo times or how my relationships with the dojo members are.

A bit of respect for all, please.

The question is: cleaning the dojo as a tool for humbling students is acceptable by today's standards?

Regards.

Kevin Leavitt
11-11-2004, 01:08 PM
In the western world today we have all kinds of mechanisms in place to make society much more efficient. In industrialized nations it doesn't make monetary sense to have a CEO or President of a company take out trash or clean his floors, and that can be okay.

That type of thinking has prevaded our society down to everyday life. We go to the Starbucks, buy a mocha frappachino drink it as we walk down the street and casually without thought throw the cup in the waste can in the shopping center. We don't really think about all the things that went into getting that wonderful smelling and tasting drink in our hands, and what happens to it when we throw the cup in the trash can.

What about the guy that picked the beans? Or the young person with mulit-colored hair and pierced tongue working behind the counter? How about the person that empties the trash can? How about the cup and the tree that it came from....what kind of impact is it going to have in the landfill?

There is nothing wrong with going to Starbucks, I do it myself...my point is, that it is important to think about the everyday things we do and the impact we have on things. Our society has become so automatic we are in constant threat with loosing touch with reality.

Doing service is a part of the dojo environment. It serves to remind us of our responsibilities and that things just don't happen automatically. Particpating in cleaning is as much a part of the experience as taking the lessons. Some of the best conversations and teaching points I have recieved have occurred during this time.

We need to slow down our lives. Take time to realize what "goes into life".

stern9631
11-11-2004, 01:09 PM
Other deeply internal arts such as acting have cleaning crews for their stages. Is this a fair analogy?
Is ownership in a place necessary for refining a craft? Is cleaning necessary to bond to another individual? Just some thoughts.

Kevin Leavitt
11-11-2004, 01:23 PM
The question is: cleaning the dojo as a tool for humbling students is acceptable by today's standards?

Humilty is a interesting subject. I think it is as relevant today as it ever was in society.

I don't equate humility with the act of humiliation though...two different things I believe.

I am a Field Grade Officer in the U.S. Army. In this role I have earned certain priviledges that I no longer have to do "details" such as cutting grass etc. However, I did do these things as I was coming along earning my rank. I still have things that I must do for those that outrank me. That is just the way it is.

When I go to certain Courses where all are students regardless of rank or position, we are all more or less equals and there are things I have to do that would be beneath me as a field grade. That is just the way the dynamic works.

Same in a dojo....the Shihan has earned a level of respect and probably no longer does things like sweep the floor. But it does not mean he has never done it, nor is willing to do it. A good leader is one that all that serve him know that he would do these things if necessary...but the students would never allow him the opportunity do to it. There is a mutual respect in this.

I have watched my Shihan...he still pays attention to the small things and will stop to pick up a errant piece of paper or a smudge.

Humility does not mean humiliation. There is mutual respect in the balance of things.

PRapoza
11-11-2004, 01:41 PM
No one can give you an answer or explain to you why it (cleaning the dojo) is a necessary part of your training. As is true with the rest of the practice you have to find out for yourself. Is it an important part of training? Yes! I know that it is. Trying to convince someone else of it's importance is being a very kind sempai.

jxa127
11-11-2004, 02:16 PM
Hi all,

This is a very interesting discussion so far.

We say that cleaning the dojo is part of training, but I never really thought about it quite that way. Unless, of course, that idea is taken literally -- cleaning is the last thing we do as part of the training session.

I also never quite thought of cleaning the dojo as a humbling experience. I think of it the same way I think of cleaning at home: something that needs to be done so the environment stays nice.

In other words, for me, cleaning has more to do with the obligation I feel to the dojo and my fellow dojo mates. The higher I get in rank, the more keenly I feel that obligation.

Regards,

stern9631
11-11-2004, 02:25 PM
I also never quite thought of cleaning the dojo as a humbling experience. I think of it the same way I think of cleaning at home: something that needs to be done so the environment stays nice.

Regards,

That is my sentiment.

akiy
11-11-2004, 02:25 PM
Keiko may stop when I step off the mat, but shugyo certainly doesn't...

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
11-11-2004, 03:13 PM
the Shihan has earned a level of respect and probably no longer does things like sweep the floor.

Uh, the Shihan where I train participates fully in the cleaning...I've seen him sweep, vacum, wash, build...A to Z. I don't think he's ever asked me to do something he wouldn't do that very moment himself. I think its that way most places I;ve been to. Could be wrong there, I don't know...

RT

aikidoc
11-11-2004, 05:03 PM
Demetrio. I never said anything about humbling anyone although in some cases a notch or two down with the ego would do some people a whole lot of good. My point was there is no structure or issues of power when it comes to cleaning. It is a shared endeavor because we all want to train in a clean and safe environment. Tradition perhaps. Good common sense-absolutely. It helps build community and as has been pointed out before commaraderie among the participants.

aikidoc
11-11-2004, 05:07 PM
p.s. You may be interpreting "humbling" as putting people down or in their place. I, on the other hand, view this as dispensing with ego. I have humbling experiences every time I practice with a shihan-but I do not feel put down.

maikerus
11-11-2004, 05:50 PM
I don't think cleaning the dojo is part of training. It is however, part of being a productive member of the dojo group.

I spent 11 months as senshusei helping to clean the dojo every morning before training and never once did I consider it training. It was simply part of the package of being a senshusei and a good way to make sure that the dojo stayed clean - since we did have an emotional committment to the dojo and our instructors, we wanted the place to be clean.

I don't even think that having uchideshi clean a dojo is part of training for them. It is simply something else that they do and is in their "job description" as uchideshi.

I can imagine how some would use cleaning as a way of humbling students, but that has never been my experience. I would hope that students would naturally want to help when they see others helping.

Again, I don't think it's part of training, but it is part of being part of the group.

Demetrio Cereijo
11-11-2004, 06:50 PM
Understood, thanks for your posts.

Regards.

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2004, 07:40 PM
p.s. You may be interpreting "humbling" as putting people down or in their place. I, on the other hand, view this as dispensing with ego. I have humbling experiences every time I practice with a shihan-but I do not feel put down.

Yes, this is exactly the point. This has always been part of practice and not just in dojos. In a Zendo one finds the same thing but it is spelled out more. The jobs which we in the West would consider the most menial actualy are assigned to the advanced students as part of their practice. The guy who cooks for the group at Sesshin is always an advanced student. The guy who gets to clean the toilets is usually senior to the folks who are sweeping the grounds.

I know various folks have stated that although they did the chores around the dojo they didn't feel that cleaning was part of the training. I would simply point out that in any Japanese system of training, everything is considered training.

It's instructive to realize that many Westren students wouldn't bat an eye at going through all sorts of trials and tribulations on the mat with their teacher and their sempai but have back-off at the idea of cleaning.

stuartjvnorton
11-11-2004, 07:47 PM
I always liked it as a form of meditation after training.

Marc Kupper
11-11-2004, 07:50 PM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?For me, Aikido is about taking care of my environment.

It's also one of my rituals that helps transition from the outside world (work, family, etc.) to what's happening on the mat. It's more for sanity than sanitary reasons.

Lately, I've made a little game of it; clean with zanshin, use of center, etc.

> Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?
What are American sensibilities?

Charles Hill
11-11-2004, 09:22 PM
[QUOTE=Demetrio Cereijo]
But cleaning the dojo as a way to humbling people, or as a part of the training, needs more ellaboration to be justifiable imho. [QUOTE]

I think that Demetrio`s questions are very important. Too often people just accept things without examining them. And then when they get called out on them, people get defensive.

In my opinion, cleaning has several benefits.

1. It produces this, "We are all in it together." feeling. There is nothing like the rush of 4th, 5th, and 6th dan students running for brooms and vacumn cleaners after the Doshu`s 6:30 am class at Honbu.

2. There is a "You don`t have to like it, you just have to do it." part of it. This helps students develop an obedient, passive attitude. (sunao in Japanese) This is important because, we are practicing a "martial way" to change ourselves. We come to a dojo because we can`t do it on our own. Thus, we need to trust our teacher and submit to the teaching.

3. To be Budo and not just Bujutsu, we need to take what we learn during martial practice and apply it to things in our daily lives. Cleaning the dojo is a good bridge between martial technique practice and daily life. We can explore things like "what is the best way to hold a broom?" "what is the best system for a group of people to clean together without getting in each other`s way and still be able to clean effectively?"

One day at the Aikikai Honbu, I got a rather sharp lesson in how to clean with a rag by Tamura Shihan. I listened carefully and tried to do it the way he showed. Later that day during a class he taught, he spent a long time with me working on various techniques. I think it was because I showed him that I was open and eager to get what he had to teach.

Charles Hill

Magma
11-11-2004, 10:08 PM
Training is where you find it.

Cleaning. Treatment of our belts (not leaving them on the ground).

Training is an effort at self-improvement, so perhaps the easiest place to find non-keiko training is anywhere there is a choice given us dealing with self-improvement. One choice has us working a bit harder and learning from it, the other has us not working nearly as much but gives us an escape from the situation.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who claim to value their training always choose the easier way, the exit from the situation rather than working a little bit and learning, when presented with this sort of choice.

Could it be that people do not learn from these opportunities (cleaning, treatment of their belts) because they do not see them as opportunities? And, if so, then what sort of student does this person make who does not look for ways to learn? Who takes the easy way out?

I agree with George Ledyard: training is in everything. Something doesn't necessarily have to be hard to be worthwhile, of course, but very often the choice is exactly as I laid it out: easy exit from the situation, or a little work that facilitates learning.

You decide.

maikerus
11-11-2004, 10:32 PM
I would simply point out that in any Japanese system of training, everything is considered training.


George,

I think we'd have to go back and define training for me to agree with you on this.

I think maybe Jun's differentiation between training and Shugyo would be more appropriate for things like sleeping in front of the master's door in case they get up in the night and always have an ashtray ready for when they feel like flicking their ash.

I'm trying to remember some of the conversations (or one sided discussions <wry grin>) I've had with some of my senior Japanese instructors and my impression is that the reason you do so much more than just train on the mats is out of respect and a wish to be looked upon favourably (in the sense that you will be shown and learn more) as opposed to it being an aspect of training. It falls back into the sempai/kohai relationship that came up a few threads ago.

I could be wrong, and I agree it is a part of the life experience...but I still wouldn't call it training per say.

This is probably just a semantic thing, but I don't want people to think of cleaning as "wax on/wax off". It is more than that and much different. Perhaps a different type of training?

--Michael

xuzen
11-11-2004, 10:47 PM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?

Hi all aikidokas,

Does the word volunteerism and altruism ring a bell in this case? Does the word humility apply in this context? Or maybe community service? Cleaning the dojo is so much like community service, you volunteer your service as part of a collective you are in for a greater good - e.g. less smelly dojo, ha ha ha

Other Goals of this avtivity -
1) less smelly dojo
2) more hygienic mats to roll on
3) A sore butt to prove how serious you are to your dojo mates and sensei.
4) Strong forearm to grab uke better
5) et cetera.

Regards
Boon.

PeterR
11-11-2004, 10:51 PM
I also wouldn't call it training per se. More of a contribution to the group/dojo. Cleaning is something everyone can do.

We have a limited number of brooms so there always is a wrestling match to get your broom from the senior student. Those senior enough never to be left with a broom will have something else found for them to do to contribute to the overall functioning of the dojo.

At Himeji there are no brooms just the contract cleaners - I don't think our training suffers.

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2004, 10:55 PM
[QUOTE=Demetrio Cereijo]
But cleaning the dojo as a way to humbling people, or as a part of the training, needs more ellaboration to be justifiable imho. [QUOTE]

One day at the Aikikai Honbu, I got a rather sharp lesson in how to clean with a rag by Tamura Shihan. I listened carefully and tried to do it the way he showed. Later that day during a class he taught, he spent a long time with me working on various techniques. I think it was because I showed him that I was open and eager to get what he had to teach.

Charles Hill One thing about the Japanese Senseis, even if they criticize you, it's because they think you are worth teaching. If they think you are a putz they won't say anything. You are not worth their notice. Tamura Sensei's cleaning instruction was a way to check you out and he found you worth investing in because of your attitude.

The folks that object to "being humbled" by cleaning would have resented such an intrusion since it was itself fairly humbling to be shown how to dust properly. They would have missed the point with Tamura Sensei and not earned his later attention as you did.

Rocky Izumi
11-11-2004, 11:04 PM
When using a push broom in cleaning the dojo, remember to keep the front foot in front and straight ahead. Do not point the front foot at an angle from the direction you are moving. Also keep knees pointed ahead. Try to use as much of your foot movement to push the broom rather than your arms but when pushing the broom do not just push the broom along the floor but sweep using a motion that matches arms swing and feet. Make sure to move feet first but end feet movement with arm movement. Remember to keep back straight, head up and stay in hanmi.

When sweeping with the brush type of broom make sure to move feet first, then swing arm. Learn to use long smooth strokes that start after feet start but end with the feet. Do some with front foot pointed in direction of movement and maintaining hanmi. Do others with front foot at right angles and back foot pointed away from direction of movement in Tenshin movement. Control your weight balance between the legs. Remember to keep head up, back straight and stay in hanmi. When turning, remember to turn head first.

When washing floor with cloth, either push cloth along floor without knees on floor but keep head up and back arched. If washing floor with cloth with knees on floor, make sure to move in shikko. Remember to keep head up and back straight. When turning, remember to turn head first.

Rock

George S. Ledyard
11-11-2004, 11:05 PM
I also wouldn't call it training per se. More of a contribution to the group/dojo. Cleaning is something everyone can do.

We have a limited number of brooms so there always is a wrestling match to get your broom from the senior student. Those senior enough never to be left with a broom will have something else found for them to do to contribute to the overall functioning of the dojo.

At Himeji there are no brooms just the contract cleaners - I don't think our training suffers.

I'm not saying that this is a necessary thing. I am saying that resitance to it indicates something.

But all of these "conventions" like cleaning, not letting your seniors sweep when you don't have a broom, all of that is part of the training. It was meant to shape you as a person. It didn't evolve by accident and the Japanese are the true masters of making everyday things part of your spiritual development. Yes, it is simply something that someone has to do and it can be done by contract cleaners if the money is available... but all of these things people have mentioned like building group cohesiveness, creating an investment in the space itself by the students, helping to avoid an inflated sense of self importance, etc is all meant to have its effect on the characters of the participants so we were always told it was just part of the training. Pretty much everything that invloved the dojo or Sensei was considered part of the training.

PeterR
11-11-2004, 11:32 PM
Hi George;

Don't misunderstand me - I'm all for shoji at the end of class. At Himeji we might not sweep, but windows are closed, doors to the mirrors are shut, equipment gathered. At Honbu we sweep.

It doesn't improve our humility nor improve our Aikido (at least in the physical sense) but it does provide a service and hence attachment to the group.

With 15 brooms sweeping 80 tatami, besides some of the larger dust bunnies, all you get is a redistribution of dust. The deshi still vacums once everyone is gone, not to mention the mopping. A cleaner dojo hardly.

Chris Li
11-11-2004, 11:34 PM
Training is where you find it.

Cleaning. Treatment of our belts (not leaving them on the ground).

There's that belt thing again...

In Japan we all helped clean the dojo. OTOH, nobody thought anything about leaving a belt on the ground. The one is not necessarily linked to the other.

As for cleaning, I trained in several Aikido dojo and more than one koryu dojo in Japan, and none of them thought of it as spiritual training. It was just politeness. Is wiping your shoes on a doormat in New York before you go into somebody's house a spiritual experience? Maybe if you're from a different culture you might blow it up into that, for most people in the US it would just be standard manners.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with instilling a certain set of manners as part of the training - a practice which probably started because the students were usually young kids and in need of that kind of thing (that's why Japanese elementary school students are made to spend time cleaning the schools). OTOH, I don't think that it's necessary to get over-emotional about the spiritual profundity of the thing.

In Japan or Hawaii, you take off your shoes before you go in the house. In New York you don't. In some dojo you clean and in some you don't - if I go somewhere that they clean than I do too. When in Rome...

Best,

Chris

PeterR
11-11-2004, 11:46 PM
Good post Charles - sometimes a broom is just a broom.

Jill N
11-12-2004, 07:45 AM
Hi all:

The other function of cleaning the mats is to inspect them for damage and blood spots (especially if you share the dojo.) There have been several occasions where I have cleaned up blood (fresh, and old) at the dojo which we share with many other groups. On a couple of occasions, the "bleeder" from the preceeding class watched as I cleaned up his blood with an antibacterial wipe, commenting to me that it isn't necessary because he hasn't got AIDS. Unbelievable! I told him I would stop the class to clean up my own blood for the protection and reassurance of everyone on the mat. It is best to assume that blood carries organisms than to make a judgement on whose blood we should clean up and whose is OK to leave. BTW- one of the two occasions, his instructor heard the exchange and ordered him to take the wipes from me and clean it up himself. All the groups generally get along very well. It only takes a few with bad attitude to cause potential problems.

Regarding my own group, I used to clean just as much as the rest, but they won't let me now. One grabs the mop, another grabs the Ki symbol to set up and there I am, standing watching. I really appreciate it.

e ya later
Jill

jxa127
11-12-2004, 08:23 AM
Jill,

We stop to clean up blood right away too. The bloodstains on the mat tend to discourage new students. ;-)

Regards,

Magma
11-12-2004, 08:46 AM
In this thread now we have had aikido compared to acting and cleaning the dojo compared to wiping your shoes before entering someone's house. Let me answer those points from my perspective.

Acting is not an art inherently focused on developing the whole person. The overwhelming majority of people do not train in acting so that they are better people, they train so that they become better actors. For the few who treat it is a true, internalizable art, I think you *would* see the sort of investment in their workspace as we are discussing as arising from cleaning. I think that this sort of actor would be invested in every part of the production that they could help out with - set design, set construction, cleaning, etc. Of course, acting does not have the martial tradition backing it up where the focus *is* specifically on developing the whole person, and I think that this is why you don't see the emphasis like you do in aikido.

Also, you are not constantly rolling on stage where others have rolled; you are not having your face pressed into the floor of the set where others feet have been. For a number of reasons, then, a comparison to acting is a poor one.

As for wiping your shoes before you enter someone's house, again, unless that person or that place were a part of your growth as a person, then it is not a valid comparison. If the person *were* such a person as integrally important to your development as a person, or if the place were integrally a part, then I think that you would a bit more ceremony wiping (or removing) your shoes before entering.

It's all about opportunities.

PeterR
11-12-2004, 08:57 AM
The overwhelming majority of people do not train in acting so that they are better people, they train so that they become better actors.
This is probably true but I think the same thing can be said for most people doing Aikido.

I train in Aikido so I can become better at Aikido.

Qatana
11-12-2004, 09:30 AM
[QUOTE=Tim Rohr].

Acting is not an art inherently focused on developing the whole person. .

Theater Arts may not be focussed on developing the WHole Person but the individual can get as much spiritual value from practicing them as from aikido. We work with "identity" in our dojo, becoming a "different " person than the person we were when we entered the dojo, when we started any technique. Theater arts are about creating a different identity each time you step on the stage.
The discipline of a Ballet class is just as beneficial, and much more strenuous btw, than/as in aikido.So is the discipline of dog training, for that matter.Well, maybe not quite so strenuous...



"Also, you are not constantly rolling on stage where others have rolled; you are not having your face pressed into the floor of the set where others feet have been. For a number of reasons, then, a comparison to acting is a poor one."


So in dance i have rolled around on a stage with my face and other bodily parts pressed into the floor. In more than one performance. And believe it or not, we get blood on the stage,too.And rosin. Nothing like a face full of nice sticky, burning rosin to contribute to a dance performance.We have it on the dojo floor, it gets on the mats, i'm Happy to wash them periodically!

Jill N
11-12-2004, 09:32 AM
Drew wrote:
>>Jill,

We stop to clean up blood right away too. The bloodstains on the mat tend to discourage new students. ;-) <<

Drew:
We stop action and clean up blood right away too. It is other MA groups that use the mats who don't. I guess mybe blood is advertising for other groups, but I agree, it isn't a drawing card for aikido. (and thank goodness for that)
e ya later
Jill

Magma
11-12-2004, 10:43 AM
Acting and dancing do not develop the whole person. Budo does, provided the person is willing to invest themselves. It is from the martial tradition that you find the admonition to take our training beyond the mats... to find it everywhere. To a certain extent this is true of any art, but it is not the thrust of the art.

Peter - you beg the question.

I train in Aikido so I can become better at Aikido.

Why? Why do you want to be better at aikido?

(I realize that at the end of this discussion we will arrive at a place of opinion based on our individual presuppositions, but so far as the above line could be said about any particular activity - fishing, speed-marshmallow-roasting, speaking backwards, lifting weights, etc. - you have done nothing to answer why you train in *aikido* rather than in fishing, competitive oregami, or any other activity.)

Qatana
11-12-2004, 11:11 AM
Well since in my personal experience i have seen incredible Personal Transformation, Growth and Interpersonal communication skills develop in several hundred beginning dancers, i disagree. seen countless clumsy, shy, frightened, insecure young people turn into dynamic performers with character and Prescence, giving them the self-confidence to take on other challenging aspects of their lives.
I see absolutely no difference in being concious of the Other Person whether in an aikido or dance situation.
Discipline and committment are what develop the person, not necessarily the avenue taken.
The purpose of the Arts is personal Development. All the Arts- visual, performing, martial.

Janet Rosen
11-12-2004, 12:08 PM
Acting and dancing do not develop the whole person. Budo does, provided the person is willing to invest themselves.
)
Tim, I neither act nor dance, but I've known professionals in both for whom it is just as transformative a process, just as much a spiritual facing of one's boundaries and connections as any budo.
Washing dishes can probably do it do. It ain't the activity, its what you bring to it.

Magma
11-12-2004, 12:21 PM
Janet and Jo -

I see your point - I do. I am arguing to one extreme (even further than I believe re: the arts) so as to draw out comments and explore what budo is and how/why cleaning is a part of one's studentship/study.

Seeing as you both have limited the distinction between acting/dancing and aikido/budo, what do *you* think the difference is between acting and aikido that deals with cleaning (as Jon seemed to bring up that there was a difference there by his question)?

My answer would be that the effort-at-self-improvement and expression that is at the heart of any art (writing, painting, acting, dance, music, etc.), is the same attitude of the martial spirit. This has something to do with the whole-mindedness, presentness... "is-ness" ... that we find in Zen ("when you eat, eat; when you sleep, sleep"). The reason that I think you find the cleaning requirement placed on students in a dojo more often than you would in some other communal art such as acting or dance is specifically because of the tradition of developing the whole person, and the focus on always being, for lack of a better word, focused. Part of that development of the whole person is also humility, something cleaning gives away in bushels.

Qatana
11-12-2004, 12:43 PM
Nobody is Required to clean our dojo. No one has ever been told to pick up the mats or sweep them.We just do it.At least those of us who are committed to the training do, we have those who drop in when its convenient, conveniently after the mats are laid down, just like everywhere else.

I really fail to understand how cleaning the dojo makes one any more focussed than hand stitching the beads onto our costumes or mopping the marley or going from store to store asking total strangers if we can hang up a poster or putting on a pair of eyelashes,( all Required) Believe me, if you are doing anything in ballet class other than ballet you will probably get injured.

And if Ikebana is Budo, and Tea is Budo, and Shodo is Budo than i'm willing to bet money that Japanese pre-war dance forms are also Budo. Post-war? That would be Butoh.

You want humility? Take a ballet class.I have enough experience in both dance & aikido ( and probably enough karate as well) that i fail to see any difference between the two. An audition is exactly like a kyu test. A demo is a performance. Cleaning is cleaning.And i have seen dancers thrown out of the show for refusing to do any one of the above.

Magma
11-12-2004, 01:15 PM
Hmm, seems when I offer reconciliation, Jo, you respond with more anger. Of course, I may be wrong in my assessment.

I really fail to understand how cleaning the dojo makes one any more focussed than...

It doesn't. You've missed my point. It isn't that one is made more focused by cleaning than by another activity. It is, rather, that because one is focused one learns from the activity. The jobs you describe for a dance troop are no better and no worse than cleaning. What really matters is how you do them.

And if Ikebana is Budo, and Tea is Budo, and Shodo is Budo than (sic) i'm willing to bet money that Japanese pre-war dance forms are also Budo.

Um, I don't grant that any of those first three are budo. They, much like my first point above, are ways in which the martial spirit or "focus" infuses the other things people do. So, your pre/post war dance point is not made on me... there is a way that dance can be done with focus, and a way that it can be done without. It is still just dance, not budo.

You want humility?

I try to find it everywhere, in everything that I do. This is what budo teaches.

Janet Rosen
11-12-2004, 02:03 PM
Like aikido, washing dishes, ballet, for me the shugyo, focus, etc are there IF the individual seeks it there. For me, the cleaning is just cleaning, and I do it because it's the civil thing to do when one is part of a community. You contribute to making it dirty or worn out by using it, you contribute to making it clean by cleaning it.
Don't see it as either or situation, but simply how the individual chooses to regard it.

twilliams423
11-12-2004, 02:37 PM
No one can give you an answer or explain to you why it (cleaning the dojo) is a necessary part of your training. As is true with the rest of the practice you have to find out for yourself. Is it an important part of training? Yes! I know that it is. Trying to convince someone else of it's importance is being a very kind sempai.

I think this is stated very eloquently. What I would add, from my perspective, is that as sempai/instructor I don't try to convince anyone of anything. I conduct myself in what I believe to be the most appropriate way possible, it is up to others to do the same or not as they choose. I can tell you that as the head of my own small dojo I have done and continue to do more work than anyone else including scrubbing mats and sweeping floors before anyone else even shows up for class. I appreciate it when others help. I can see quite clearly how everyone in my class behaves. If anyone chooses to pay attention to my example, they may find themselves on the path to discovering what I have about this issue. I firmly believe Aikido is about much more than becoming an effective technical practitioner. I have found my own perspective to have changed greatly over time. I can't expect anything from others, everyone is in a different point in their personal growth and understanding, and all of us have to figure it out for ourselves.

Rocky Izumi
11-12-2004, 10:11 PM
Well, I never liked a dirty dojo and I found it difficult to attract new students to a messy dojo so if the dojo was messy when I got there to teach class, I just started to clean the dojo. If people wanted me to teach class instead of clean the dojo, they helped me and class was delayed. If they wanted class to start on time, they went and cleaned the dojo, swept the steps, shovelled the snow, emptied the waste bins or did the bookkeeping before I got there. I have only so much time to deal with dojo stuff. I have to make a living too and have a family to deal with. So the only time I deal with dojo cleaning and that type of stuff is at the times I allocate to the dojo. As I pay dojo fees like anyone else even though I am the head instructor, I don't think I should have to spend any more time at the dojo doing things other than practicing than anyone else. So, if the dojo is not clean when I get there, I have a choice: teach class or clean dojo. Since a clean dojo is necessary for me to have a good class, I will clean the dojo or its environs first, then practice and teach class. It is up to the students. if they want to just sit around and wait for me and anyone else helping to pick weeds to finish, we may not finish until after class time is over. Class time is over and it is family or work time, I leave - no class. I pay the same fees as everyone else so who is to complain. I don't owe them any more than they owe me. We are all members of the same dojo. All our focus has to be on the dojo.

When people learn this, then they have started learning about one of the key points of development in Aikido - Joshiki no kanyo (the development of common sense). It goes along with Tai iku, Ki iku, and Toku iku (Development of the body, development of the spirit, and development of our ethics.) The saying goes: Tai iku, Ki iku, Toku iku, Joshiki no Kanyo. This is why we should be practicing Aikido.

Rock

Chad Scott
11-13-2004, 01:21 AM
Cleaning the dojo is good for self-discipline and humility, in my opinion. It also helps me feel connected to the dojo.

I also like how everyone hurries to grab cleaning items after training. I am reminded of the harmony that we all share in. Plus it's a good way to strike up conversations (especially with the time-consuming task of scrubbing blood off the mats).

PeterR
11-13-2004, 03:09 AM
Peter - you beg the question.

I train in Aikido so I can become better at Aikido.

Why? Why do you want to be better at aikido?
Because I enjoy it and so far the more I improve the more fun it gets. Rocky's mention about Koens in a different thread would be apt just about now - I don't bother about the final goal. What will come will come.

And if Ikebana is Budo, and Tea is Budo, and Shodo is Budo than i'm willing to bet money that Japanese pre-war dance forms are also Budo.

Well actually Jo - Chado and Shodo are Do not Budo since they are not martial. It reflects the idea that consistent training in any endeavor can lead to enlightenment. This could include acting, dancing, and yes even pushing a broom if you were so inclined. Stranger choices have been made to find satori.

Qatana
11-13-2004, 09:46 AM
Thanks Peter for the clarification.
So my point is that any practice can be a "Do". We all walk on different paths.

Tim, I have been known to be overly attached to my opinions,and tend to get a bit excited about this at times! But i have seen all the things that you say dance ISN"T with my own eyes, so I did have to speak up. All depends on your own POV.

And having said that, many the times we have to pick up all kinds of little ballet accesories before we can put the mats down before class...

Charles Hill
11-13-2004, 07:55 PM
Stranger choices have been made to find satori.

There is a shinkou shukyo group based somewhere around Kyoto that cleans toilets as a spiritual practice. Mr. Donuts employees are sent there to learn how to really clean and keep a positive spiritual attitude. If I remember correctly, the founder had a spiritual experience while cleaning a toilet once.

Charles Hill

Rocky Izumi
11-14-2004, 10:10 PM
There is a shinkou shukyo group based somewhere around Kyoto that cleans toilets as a spiritual practice. Mr. Donuts employees are sent there to learn how to really clean and keep a positive spiritual attitude. If I remember correctly, the founder had a spiritual experience while cleaning a toilet once.

Charles Hill
I've had spiritual experiences using a toilet after a long stint of driving in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a Canadian winter at -50C. Does that count?

Charles Hill
11-15-2004, 02:11 AM
Does that count?

It depends on how clean it was after the experience. You could write up your experience and send it in. They might give you a certificate and you can open your own branch.

Charles

JJF
11-15-2004, 02:50 AM
I only have one problem with cleaning the dojo - if my wife finds out I spend more time cleaning that place than I do at home she's gonna get soooo mad at me ;)

darin
11-15-2004, 09:37 AM
Guess it really depends on the size of the school and how much you pay. I think sweeping the tatami or wiping the floor is just good manners for the next crew who are going to use it. Its the same as cleaning up after yourself at the gym when you finish with a bench or machine.

Ron Tisdale
11-15-2004, 01:46 PM
I have to say that I REALLY liked Rock's last post. What a fabulous way to run a dojo! Wish I could've trained there...

Ron

aikidojones
11-15-2004, 02:06 PM
I thought I'd relate an experience from the other day. We practice in a University mat room which is shared by many groups. When I came into the room the other day two guys were practicing submission fighting. One had his shirt off and was leaving pools of sweat all over the mat. The other had started bleeding from his nose and rather than stopping, had just leaked blood all over the room. These guys were on their way out without cleaning up their own mess until I asked them to see to it. When I did ask them to deal with it, they acted a little surprised and simply told someone at the front desk to come clean it up. This struck me as very disrespectful, of course. I think that having students clean the dojo and undertake other "menial" tasks is really critical to developing the right kind of attitude. It's like bowing to the teacher and the founder, we do it because it shows respect for what we're learning.

Nikopol
03-06-2005, 10:51 AM
Wow. If I had a beautiful car I would love to wax it. When you own something you take pride in it. You take care of it. I don't get those who can't see the pleasure in taking care of something, especially when it has become a group activity. Surely no-one's making you Cinderellas scub the dojo while they dash off to the ball :-)

I used to live in DC with a bunch of students in an old church. We would get up at seven and rake the leaves in the autumn. See people going to work. Hear birds chirping, smell the morning... it would make us high. Monks sweep, I found it natural from day one. It's meditation, it's excercise, it's rewarding.

Is it training? It is if you want it! Sweeping is the best suriashi training you will ever find. Rythmically, gently, it is a dance in itself. Sweep, slide, slide, sweep, slide slide.... the dojos not THAT big anyway. Washing the mats... a great stretch and great for the legs, balance... you should see how the kids enjoy it here.

To those who aren't enjoying it, try to stop thinking about where you want to rush off to. Make room in your head and something pleasant may appear.

Gustaf Rydevik
03-06-2005, 04:28 PM
I'm just a bit curious about one idbit that popped up earlier in this thread concerning cleaning up bloodstains.

It was mentioned that antibacterial soap was used when cleaning, presumably to stop infections or similar.

Is this common in the US?
I mean, we clean up as soon as blood drips on the mat (dried-in stains are so difficult to clean) but just with a regular wet rag. I can't imagine what kind of illness one would be afraid of. Especially considering the most common ones (HIV, hepatite A) are virii, not bacterias, and would hardly be affected by antibacterial soap. So where does this paranoia stem from?

Lorien Lowe
03-06-2005, 07:23 PM
Hep C is the biggest worry - it can survive and be infective even in *dried* blood. It seriously decreases the quality of life of the people that have it, and there's no cure. HIV is pretty fragile outside of the body. My guess would be that soap and water (or just allowing the blood to dry) would end the likelihood of being able to pick it up even from an open wound (caveat: I'm a biologist, not an expert on infectious disease).
We use water with chlorine bleach to clean the mat. It doesn't smell good, but it works pretty well.

-LK

mathewjgano
03-06-2005, 08:04 PM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?

Yes. Everything is a part of training. Breathing, cleaning, speaking, rolling and being rolled, are all a part of training. The idea of cleaning the dojo is to be socially mindfull and to take care of the place where you do most of your intensive training. It shows respect to the space where you learn and it teaches one to apply themselves even in the most seemingly mundane of activities. An aikidoka must always strive to apply themselves and to cultivate the world around them. This includes maintaining it as well as fostering growth.

Rocky Izumi
03-06-2005, 08:34 PM
Hep C is the biggest worry - it can survive and be infective even in *dried* blood. It seriously decreases the quality of life of the people that have it, and there's no cure. HIV is pretty fragile outside of the body. My guess would be that soap and water (or just allowing the blood to dry) would end the likelihood of being able to pick it up even from an open wound (caveat: I'm a biologist, not an expert on infectious disease).
We use water with chlorine bleach to clean the mat. It doesn't smell good, but it works pretty well.

-LK

OH works well as a disinfectant for bacteria or virus (I'm an ex-clinical microbiologist/genetic engineer). It also works as a bleaching agent to get rid of the stains. It does not harm mats or canvas and is relatively safe for handling as long as you don't drink it. It works well on blood stains on gi as well. It even works on old dried blood.

Rock

PeterR
03-06-2005, 09:05 PM
Ditto on the Hep C - scary stuff. And what Rock says.

I don't get so worked up about blood stains as some - there tends to be a bit of overreaction. It's just easier to clean up fresh than dried and why should others clean up your mess. With a cloth there is no need to touch the blood in any case.

I tend to be more cautious about free flowing blood but I have never seen a dojo injury where I had to be in physcial contact with someone elses blood.

Tim Griffiths
03-07-2005, 03:29 AM
I tend to be more cautious about free flowing blood but I have never seen a dojo injury where I had to be in physcial contact with someone elses blood.

I've sprayed someone with a good half-pint of blood before (losing the rest getting off the mat before I passed out - a good way to get someone else to clean up your mess).

I clean the bathroom and wash the floor at home. I don't feel any more or less humble doing the same thing at the dojo. There are people in my dojo who rush to get the brooms, or put the mats away - that's fine, but I don't feel that I *must* clean - just doing the job in front of me, without paying much attention to whether I want to do it or not.

Tim

stuartjvnorton
03-07-2005, 05:53 AM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?


Like most things, it's what you make of it.
If you see it as menial and beneath you, you will resent it accordingly. If you see it as another way of polishing your own mirror, then use it as such and appreciate it.

PeterR
03-07-2005, 06:02 AM
I've sprayed someone with a good half-pint of blood before (losing the rest getting off the mat before I passed out - a good way to get someone else to clean up your mess).
Yuck-I spilled that much in the Dojo but it sure didn't spray (half torn off toe). Pray tell what did you do?

Greg Null
03-07-2005, 04:59 PM
What an interesting topic. I was so fascinated by the varied responses I had to chime in.

To me it is as simple as this: You cannot begin to afford your training. So you do whatever possible to "pay back" your sensei by doing whatever is required. Sometimes that might be cleaning. Sometimes it might be maintenance. Sometimes it might be teaching. You simply to do whatever you can in a joyful manner because it is your responsibility as a student of that dojo. Not because it promotes humility. That might just be a pleasant side-effect.

You do it because it needs to be done. Simple.

Tim Griffiths
03-08-2005, 02:17 AM
Yuck-I spilled that much in the Dojo but it sure didn't spray (half torn off toe). Pray tell what did you do?

Live tanto + thrust to the throat + nervous uke = knife right through my hand.
The movement I was making meant the knife pulled out by itself. I walked off the mat to my bag to get a towel (no, I didn't stop to bow :blush: ) but never made it. The guy with the knife just stood there, dripping, until someone came and took it away from him.
The class cleaned up the mat, finished the last 15 mins of practice, got changed, and *then* someone drove me to hospital, where I was damn lucky to have an observant nurse, and a GP on call who used to be a surgeon (but gave it up for a normal practice - how often does that happen?) to fix up the mess.

Happy days....

Tim

GLWeeks
03-08-2005, 08:25 AM
"Is that blood on your Gi?"

"Some of it..."

Diana Frese
01-07-2011, 09:17 AM
I love this thread! Although my husband calls me "messy Bessie"
(no offense to those whose name really is Bessie) because I find
it hard to deal with his stuff, including office and trades equipment
my two brothers' stuff and my late parents (still havent been thru
theirs and it's been sixteen years) and of course mine, I collect
small bits of everything, I still have the goal of being a
sort of Shinto Princess (real Shintoists please understand that
the desire to emulate has prompted the nickname I mean no
disrespect, quite the contrary)

But there are personal reasons that are muscular and neurological
why I liked cleaning the dojo way back when. I was basically a klutz who switched from modern dance, which I also had to
work hard at to keep up with my high school classmates.
At NY Aikikai I don't think we were
humble ,but we had a sense of humor, so I think for my dojo friends
it was just a way of being part of the group. Paint parties were fun too
The dojo was small, and (hope this doesn't offend him now) Yamada Sensei could be seen after one o'clock class in gi bottoms
and sleeveless undershirt and one or two elbows on the mat
reading the baseball scores. At that time of year, by the
way "batting practice sankyo (with throw)" seemed to be
taught more than at other times of the year.
His aikido was really serious, but he seemed to want us to know he wasn't a guru. I'm not saying humble, but what I heard him say at a summer camp test, and again years later read in Federation News, the basics are of primary importance.

For me, cleaning was a way to become more coordinated after
the training of practicing set moves in class, it was what
you might call mental and physical cool down, in today's
language of "personal training." Plus I often found quarters
dimes and nickels along with pennies on the floor of the dressing room.

The ideal setting for me to teach years later was at a Y, it turned
out. I loved surprising people who dropped by to check out the class with everyday life examples for Aikido, even the Chow Chow
Chow step from the Purina Cat Chow commercial.
I remember one day after dog obedience we had to
sweep and mop up fluffy bits of dog hair. Another time, not
sure what group had been there first, but there was grime almost
like road dirt on the floor, so I asked the Japanese restaurant for
newspapers to shred, moisten and sweep Japanese style. The
had no newspapers but were from Northern japan and said
use snow. We did.

Basia Halliop
01-07-2011, 10:54 AM
I don't think it's ever occurred to me to find anything 'humbling' about cleaning, any more than any other random activity...

Mikemac
01-07-2011, 11:10 AM
Is cleaning the dojo part of training? Why? What is the goal of this training? Is it idealistic to think that it is anything other than being sanitary? Does this ideal translate into American sensibilities?

Zen saying.....

"Have you eaten?"
"Yes"
"Then clean your bowl."

Tony Wagstaffe
01-07-2011, 03:59 PM
I personally like to train in a clean dojo, so I clean it as do my fellow aikidoka do, and I'm the bleedin' sensei !!!!:D ;)

Hellis
01-08-2011, 05:11 AM
I personally like to train in a clean dojo, so I clean it as do my fellow aikidoka do, and I'm the bleedin' sensei !!!!:D ;)

Thanks for my first smile today :D

Why would anyone not want to take part in keeping their dojo clean ?? In the early days Derek Eastman who was then a young 16 yr old assistant would get in the dojo early to sweep the frost off the mat surface, he never moaned once, as it would have cost him 200 push-ups on the back of the wrists...so he did it willingly....
As sensei I did my bit too, I would inspect his work.

Henry Ellis
http://rik-ellis.blogspot.com/

Ellis Amdur
01-08-2011, 01:23 PM
If I were king:
Students would be required to help clean their public schools before they went home/every day - but the custodial union would raise the roof - and sad to say, so would the parents. So kids go to school and have an entitled sense that they are "served" - they have no particular ownership in the place. If schools had a garden, for example, and students participated in keeping the place not only clean, but aesthetic they would be less entitled and younger than their years, as so many are (13/14 year olds once went to war, now 24 year olds play Hamlet, "what should I become one day)."
And, if I were king, homeless shelters, except for those serving the 100% disabled, would have a requirement that those staying there would clean up the place - washing the steps, the hallways, the - - - everything. (And that is NOT done).
Why waste time on what the meaning of the word "humble" is? This is, once again, confusing spiritual training with martial arts. The junior cleaned the toilets because it was the most unpleasant job, so of course, the junior did it. And dreamed of the day that a new student would arrive and the task was passed on. But everyone cleaned something. It was considered a given.
Best

Marc Abrams
01-08-2011, 01:49 PM
If I were king:
Students would be required to help clean their public schools before they went home/every day - but the custodial union would raise the roof - and sad to say, so would the parents. So kids go to school and have an entitled sense that they are "served" - they have no particular ownership in the place. If schools had a garden, for example, and students participated in keeping the place not only clean, but aesthetic they would be less entitled and younger than their years, as so many are (13/14 year olds once went to war, now 24 year olds play Hamlet, "what should I become one day)."
And, if I were king, homeless shelters, except for those serving the 100% disabled, would have a requirement that those staying there would clean up the place - washing the steps, the hallways, the - - - everything. (And that is NOT done).
Why waste time on what the meaning of the word "humble" is? This is, once again, confusing spiritual training with martial arts. The junior cleaned the toilets because it was the most unpleasant job, so of course, the junior did it. And dreamed of the day that a new student would arrive and the task was passed on. But everyone cleaned something. It was considered a given.
Best

There you go Ellis, How dare you advocate personal responsibility in the Whats-for-me, Sue-You society!

Imaizumi Sensei once wrote an article on this subject. He pointed out that you can simply clean as a function of it being a responsibility. One can also clean as a function of some aspect of shugyo. Cleaning one's space can mean both the external and internal environments through the act of cleaning the external environment.

Regards,

Marc Abrams

Walter Martindale
01-08-2011, 02:09 PM
Well, now, isn't this an old thread, revived...
I believe we all need to chip in keeping the training environment clean. One dojo I was at I used to make a point of showing up 20-30 min early to sweep and wash. The DUSTIEST dojo I've ever been in. I'd sweep up a bunch of dust-bunnies and old hair and then use a dilute dettol solution to wash the vinyl-tatami, and by the end of an hour of practice there would be a fresh pile of dust-bunny in the corners again. T'was amazing.
Every other dojo I've been in, there's a clean-up either before or after every straining session, and any blood is sopped up with a cleaning solution right away.
However - it certainly is an old thread.

W

lbb
01-08-2011, 05:56 PM
There you go Ellis, How dare you advocate personal responsibility in the Whats-for-me, Sue-You society!

Feel better now? :D

We're an international forum coming from many different societies, so I don't think sweeping statements about what's wrong with "society" will get any closer to the question of students cleaning the dojo. Speaking specifically of the United States, training at a dojo is seen as a variant of training at a gym or a health club, and it would be quite unusual for customers to expect (or be expected to) clean up at a health club. White-collar workers aren't generally expected to clean their offices, and students aren't generally expected to clean their classrooms. You can argue about whether or not this is a good thing, but that's the situation, and to be honest, I don't think arguments for or against are really relevant if your goal is to get students to clean the dojo -- it's just a distraction. Leave the "should" out of it. Explain to students that a dojo operates on a different basis than a gym, a school, or an office, and that it needs students to do chores in order to function. Address it as a practical matter rather than some kind of moral imperative, explain that there isn't any paid staff to do it, leave the character judgment out of it, and let people come to their own conclusions about whether the act of cleaning the dojo has some kind of inner meaning.

Michael Hackett
01-08-2011, 09:49 PM
I vote for Ellis for King! We could do worse, and have.

gdandscompserv
01-09-2011, 07:51 AM
yup, Ellis for king!
:cool:

Walter Martindale
01-09-2011, 07:13 PM
Feel better now? :D

We're an international forum coming from many different societies, so I don't think sweeping statements about what's wrong with "society" will get any closer to the question of students cleaning the dojo. Speaking specifically of the United States, training at a dojo is seen as a variant of training at a gym or a health club, and it would be quite unusual for customers to expect (or be expected to) clean up at a health club. White-collar workers aren't generally expected to clean their offices, and students aren't generally expected to clean their classrooms. You can argue about whether or not this is a good thing, but that's the situation, and to be honest, I don't think arguments for or against are really relevant if your goal is to get students to clean the dojo -- it's just a distraction. Leave the "should" out of it. Explain to students that a dojo operates on a different basis than a gym, a school, or an office, and that it needs students to do chores in order to function. Address it as a practical matter rather than some kind of moral imperative, explain that there isn't any paid staff to do it, leave the character judgment out of it, and let people come to their own conclusions about whether the act of cleaning the dojo has some kind of inner meaning.

Difference between most health clubs and most dojo is one has "clients" and "staff" while the other has "members". At least, most of the dojo I've been at. I worked at a health club where we called clients "members" but they were paying customers and we had a janitorial staff. I've never been at a dojo that had staff.. (many have been housed in facilities that had staff, but when we were using the space as a dojo, we cleaned our mats, space, etc.)
W

SteliosPapadakis
01-10-2011, 03:31 AM
Ι have a querry (actually more than one), if i may...
Should the Sensei demand or "expect" from the students to clean the place? Or should he ignore the whole lot and see if they do it themselves anyway?
What if there is not enough time? Another class by a different teacher before the aikido class followed by another class by another teacher immediately afterwards?
Should the Sensei postpone his lesson for 5 minutes in order for them students to clean the tatami?

Tony Wagstaffe
01-10-2011, 03:56 AM
Ι have a querry (actually more than one), if i may...
Should the Sensei demand or "expect" from the students to clean the place? Or should he ignore the whole lot and see if they do it themselves anyway?
What if there is not enough time? Another class by a different teacher before the aikido class followed by another class by another teacher immediately afterwards?
Should the Sensei postpone his lesson for 5 minutes in order for them students to clean the tatami?

It would much depend on how filthy the tatami was...?
I have always had to put up with either sport/leisure centres or rented rooms /halls etc, most are neglected , so I would find a broom, cloths, buckets, cleaning materials from the janitors cubby 'ole and have a clean up, with students..... those that didn't get there early to do their bit, certainly knew about it through the training session.....
Just to say they would be absolutely knackered and their dogi's soaking wet.......;) and so was mine.....:D

lbb
01-10-2011, 07:26 AM
Difference between most health clubs and most dojo is one has "clients" and "staff" while the other has "members".

That is a distinction that will be missed by most people in the US until it is pointed out...

At least, most of the dojo I've been at. I worked at a health club where we called clients "members" but they were paying customers and we had a janitorial staff.

...and even once it is pointed out, many students will fail to get the distinction, because like the "members" of the health club in your example, they too are paying.

Don't mistake my comments for a "should", Walter. They're just a statement of how it is.

lbb
01-10-2011, 07:30 AM
Ι
What if there is not enough time? Another class by a different teacher before the aikido class followed by another class by another teacher immediately afterwards?

At the karate dojo where I used to train, the floor would get cleaned between classes. A student for the class coming in would fill the buckets, then after the first class has come off the mat, all students (old class and new class) would grab a rag, wet it and wring it out, place it on the floor and run to the opposite side of the dojo...one after another. The whole thing took about three minutes. You're not going to clean aikido mats like that, but it's an example of how a cleaning can be done between classes that will greatly increase the dojo's cleanliness. Also, students were expected to always keep the dressing room tidy, to pick up trash wherever they found it, straighten rugs in the waiting area if needed, etc. It works if it's ingrained in the culture of a dojo: new students coming in pick it up, for the most part (although some people are incredibly oblivious). I think it works best if the tasks are regular, so that everybody knows that after class, we all do such-and-such.