Soji – cleaning of the dojo
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Soji – cleaning of the dojo

The Hombo Dojo has been “overhauled” during the last few months. It now comes shiny, tidy and practice friendly. Keeping it that way is not only part of the everyday training ritual but also part of the training ritual of visiting groups. Therefore we have introduced SOJI to the dojo etiquette.

Soji is a Japanese ritual for cleaning the dojo after practice. It derives from Zen and the Shinto religion where purification and several practices around it are closely connected to cleanliness and purity. It is therefore closely related to the tidiness of the practice area. (source: Davey, E. H. (2003), Living the Japanese Arts & Ways, Berkely: Stone Bridge Press, p. 178.)

As tidiness is closley related to mutual respect between the sensei and the students (deshi) it is performed by all members and visitors of the Hombo Dojo regardless of their rank. It shows respect to those who may train afterwards but also to the dojo itself. After all, it is the dojo where all of us enjoy the practices and we are responsible to keep the dojo the way it is.

“[…] Das optische Erscheinungsbild eines Dojo spiegelt die Qualität der Übung wider, die in ihm betrieben wird. Deshalb gehört das Reinigen des Dojo (Soji) nach alter Tradition zur Budo-Etikette […]. Es stammt aus dem Zen, in dem die körperliche Arbeit (Samu) der Mönche eine Übung zur rechten Haltung war. Dabei war es wichtig, selbst die kleinsten alltäglichen Pflichten mit konzentrierter Aufmerksamkeit zu verrichten. In demselben Sinn wird es in den Kampfkünsten verwendet. Der Übende, der sich mit Hingabe der Pflege seines Dojo widmet, reinigt auch seinen Geist. Es ist eine Übung der Achtung, des Respekt und der Demut und als solche keine Arbeit, sondern eine geistige Disziplin. […]” (source: Lind, Werner (2007), Budo: Der geistige Weg der Kampfkünste, Hamburg: Nikol Verlagsgesellschaft, p. 92.)

So at the end of every practice we all grap a cloth, line up side by side – regardless of rank, bent over with our hands on the floor and wash the tatami running it up and down. This has been practiced in Japan and Okinawa for ages and it will be practiced at the Hombo Dojo as well. It kind of forms a tight bond between the students and sensei. They all feel responsible for the dojo and it forges their way together. It also shows a willingness to give back what the students get from the practice at the dojo.


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