I have defined a dojo as a place, set aside from the rest of the world, sacred even, where we can practice, test ourselves in metaphorical battles that better prepare us for the real battles we face out in the world.
What I have not done is define our dojo.
You may have noticed we are in the midst of a transformation. Various forces from various directions have been working, consciously and unconsciously, to direct our growth and encourage us to stretch outside our former selves.
Now is the time to formalize that transformation and begin to define our new selves. For many of us, this can be scary. “What if I change my mind? What if I don’t like the new change?”
Relax. Nothing is permanent and anything that is done can be undone. But remember, in life, change is the only thing that is constant. As such it might be wiser to learn to embrace it. It could make things a tad easier.
In traditional martial arts the dojo has a “kun,” a mantra or a code of conduct, that students repeat aloud with the instructor before every practice session. This discipline, for that’s what it is, serves to reinforce not only the cohesion of the class but reminds each student the most vital and important aspects of their practice. All other aspects of the art aside, the student who fully embodies the kun is the true ace student.
When I studied Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito, this was the kun of our dojo:
The dojo is a place where learning of the true way (tao) is studied and practiced.
The dojo is a place where personal fulfillment is sought.
The dojo is a place where only the dedicated are taught.
The dojo is a place where a way of life may be found.
The dojo is a place where friendship begins and hate ends.
The dojo is a place where conflict ends and peace begins.
The dojo is a place where unity is required.
The dojo is a place where one builds the acme of their skills.
The dojo is a place where student and teacher are one with each other.
The dojo is a place where honor is practiced.
The dojo is a temple of peace, harmony, and personality.
The dojo is a way of life.
Therefore, first seek the way; then find the way; and then become the way.
Here is the kun of the Bodytribe:
Training in the Strength Arts isn’t just physical but mental and spiritual. Each practice is to strengthen and train our body, mind, energy and spirit.
The principles remain constant but the methods can change.
Seek to improve the art and improve the standard.
Keep thoughts and comments positive and healthy (!!)
Train diligently; refine your body, mind and spirit. This is your responsibility.
Your teachers can show you the way and help you, only you can develop the skills.
Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours. Next time you say “I can’t” replace it with “I don’t want to try.” (In other words, take responsibility for your action and behaviors, even when training. Limits are set by your mind more than your body).
We are overdue for our own kun. It is time we stop, take a minute to reflect, and begin to define our space, and what we expect of our tribe members in this space.
I really want to know what you think about this. I’ll offer up my ideas, which are a variation on the Shorin Ryu theme, but I want to know what you think as well. As members of our tribe and supporters of our gym, your feedback is vital. Once we have a kun we can agree on, I will formalize it and post it inside our gym.
We need not chant it together before every workout, but it will be something that it would be good to refer back to every so often, to remind ourselves, just what it is we’re building here.
Agoge Fitness Systems: The Kun of the Agoge
Our gym is a place where discovering ourselves is studied and practiced.
Our gym is a place where personal empowerment is sought, so we might then empower our tribes.
Our gym is a place where we take responsibility for ourselves.
Our gym is a place where friendship begins and hate ends, both with others and ourselves.
Our gym is a place where a tribe is born.
Our gym is a place where potential is found and explored.
Our gym is a place where change happens.
Our gym is a place where student and teacher are one.
Our gym is a place where honor is practiced.
Our gym is a temple.
Our gym is a way of life.
Seek the way; find the way; then become the way.
Remember, this is only a rough draft. I want your feedback and ideas. Together we will forge a document that reflects the true nature of our gym and shows who we are as a tribe.
I’m very happy you’re here with me, striving and changing, together we will find our better selves and discover the strongest version of ourselves.