From The Source

November 16, 2013

A Dojo Can be a place of miracles. A place where mind and body are relaxed, and refreshed and sanity restored. A place where you will find acceptance, smiles and a home that welcomes you no matter how you feel or who you are. The bow upon entering the school serves to both greet the place in which such beautiful transitions occur, and to humble oneself to accept what will be offered with in. The mood of the dojo should be one of calmness and positivity. Muscles are toned, stretched and the tensions that have been built up are released.

The Dojo opens for you no matter who you are, how you feel, what you believe or what you intend. But, we must in turn open up and accept it. It sounds strange but it is true. Many want the Dojo to accept them but they fail to open themselves, bend a little or humble themselves enough to let the wonders in. You should have the same reverent feeling you get when entering a church or temple, that quiet respect and positive acceptance you feel when entering.

One goes to these places of worship to be accepted, believe and drink from the well of things beyond their dreams. The Dojo is also such a place. The Dojo is not specific to a particular religion or belief, but a place that takes in all and never tells you that you are not welcome. The mental and spiritual wonders can actually make us better in our life and does not conflict with any specific religious belief or type of person. The Dojo will make you a better, Christian, Jew, or whatever particular faith you follow. The dojo can be used to clean out the cobwebs so to speak and allow life to be fun and enjoyable, while also allowing the mind and spirit to be more accepting and open to theother wonders of life. Like the church or temple, the Dojo allows societies elite to be side-by-side with the laborer, showing no favoritism or shunning anyone. Each can be whatever they choose to be outside the Dojo, but once inside, all races, religions, societal status and types of individuals merge into a sea of common goals of mind and body harmony and strengthening.

The bow is often misunderstood. We are not bowing to something or someone as much as we are bowing to ourselves. The bow is a respectful gesture, but I think it is more of a bow to humble and respect the self more than to a particular person or place. Sure you are using it to respect the school, but is it is deeper than that. It is really about announcing that you are ready to accept new things, accept all that is flawed in yourself to get beyond all else, letting new things in. Some have thought the bow is tome, to the school, or to the others, as if below them. This is only a casual observer’s view.

The bow, if to anyone, is to all who have entered the Dojo before, to all who have made the art we practice what it is, and all who will find peace with you there. It is more to say you have appreciation of others, more than being below them, because without this humbling of the Spirit, transformation within you cannot take place at all. As I said many times, you cannot appreciate others unless you are a piece with yourself. You have to be accepting of who you are to be at peace enough to interact correctly with others. It starts with you. You have to try to constantly improve but you also have to be happy with yourself, because this is where so many people fall short. They just cannot get past a certain point inside to totally accept themselves, instead keeping a certain level of frustration inside that prevents total happiness, prevents proper interaction with others, and makes more frustrations within oneself. All this is the essence of the bow, and the dojo.

Humbling of the self does not mean feeling you’re worth nothing, which is another common misconception. You are actually supposed to think you’re great, because it is good and proper to be proud of who you are. No one can function by thinking they have no self worth. The bow, and the entire dojo, enhance a balance of self pride and a humble spirit that will make the dojo, family, career and society more productive. It is all internal, all in feeling and outlook, all in the spirit more than the physical motions within the practice. The spirit and attitude can either assist or help the physical practice, or it can hinder it, even to the point of carelessness or injury if it becomes too lax. Funakoshi Gichin, founder of our school’s style and the first public dojo believed and stated, all begins and ends with the rei, the bow, all in the dojo and society begins, ends, and revolves around rei, respect: respect of all others whether they are like you or whether they are someone you do not know anything about. It is respect of yourself, respect and a bow with and to you more than anyone else, because if you cannot be humble enough to bow with and to yourself, and feel humble while being proud of yourself, inner peace, learning, happiness and sanity all are in question and suffer. It all revolves around one thing… rei.