Dojo as Community

A classical aikido throw being practiced. Tori...

A while back I wrote a post called “Wounded Doves: A Home by Many Names.” In response to the question, “Who comes to a dojo and why?” I noted:

“Several students talk openly about having been in trouble with drugs and alcohol; the dojo is a safe place.

There are those who, by their own description, just never fit; who would have had to ‘sell out to fit in.’

The dojo is their home. Their community. Just like a Buddhist Sangha, the marshal arts dojo provides a place for practitioners to join and commune.”

I’m intrigued with the notion that a Dojo is both a community and a place to practice.

A recent, ‘community moment’ arose when two students were practicing with my Sensei for their upcoming Kyu tests.  Practicing techniques requires Ukes. And Sensei expected two more senior students to stay and fill the Uke role.

Serving as Uke for students who are testing is a one way street. They throw, you practice Ukemi. Over and over again you get to take Ukemi!

I recognized that one of the unspoken ‘community understandings’ is: “I am here for you tonight taking throws.  I can safely assume somebody will be here for me when it’s my turn.”

We may not be close personal friends outside the dojo  but we  are all “in this” together. We serve one another.  We witness others’ journeys.  I believe it’s the same in a Sangha.

What are the “unsaid but powerful” subtleties in your communities?


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