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stern9631 11-11-2004 08:01 AM

Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 08:18 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Jon,

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

Regards,

jester 11-11-2004 08:29 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 08:30 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 08:47 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

Greg Jennings wrote:
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 08:51 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 08:52 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 09:13 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 09:47 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 10:01 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 10:08 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

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 10:10 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
"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 10:32 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

John Riggs wrote:
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 10:41 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 10:52 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

Jon Truho wrote:
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 10:53 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

Chuck Kuske wrote:
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 11:20 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

Demetrio Cereijo wrote:
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 11:55 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 11:59 AM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

George S. Ledyard wrote:
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.

Quote:

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.

Quote:

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 12:08 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 12:09 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 12:23 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 12:41 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 01:16 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
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 01:25 PM

Re: Is cleaning the dojo part of training?
 
Quote:

Drew Ames wrote:
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.


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