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We've recently had a few project days at the dojo - a New Year's Cleaning Day before our first training of 2011, and yesterday re-stretching the mat cover, now that it's settled in after its first 6 months in use. And back in June and July we helped prepare the new location, move there, and clean up the old place.
It's one of things I really love about our dojo, and probably about martial arts schools in general, that it truly is a community, where people pitch in to help. That we can pitch in and help. There's a sense of belonging and ownership that's comes from serving in that way, and it's available to everyone, of any rank. As a relative newbie who cannot contribute much else, personally, I really value that opportunity.
In so many of our other day-to-day experiences we pay our money, get what we paid for, and call it even. We are not allowed past the "Employees Only" signs. There are "No user serviceable parts inside." We are kept out, not authorized, not needed.
In a dojo, it's a community. When your neighbor is putting up a barn or their crop needs to be brought in before a storm, you don't wait to be asked, you pitch in and help. And sometimes you bring food, too. You get more out of service than you ever give, and more than you could ever pay for. It's how the community, your community, is created, and it's a privilege to be a part of it.