“The moment I step into the dojo, I change. In fact, the change begins even before I set foot inside. As I walk to the dojo, perhaps limping a little bit due to some new, random pain in my foot, or ankle, or knee, hunched over slightly, looking at the ground a few paces in front and lost in thought, my mind graduallly starts to clear; my sightline raises up until I’m looking forward. My spine straightens; I begin walking with purpose, ignoring the nagging pains in my stride. I start breathing from deep in my belly.
I open the door to the dojo, careful to do it without making much noise. I remove my shoes, place them carefully on the rack, and step in. Feet together, I bow to the kamiza. I walk silently to the change room. I remove my street clothes, fold them, and place them in a neat pile – something I wouldn’t even bother to do in my own home. I put on my training clothes, careful to tie all the knots properly, smoothing the pleats in front, adjusting the ties so that everything is worn properly. All this time, my mind is getting clearer, my breathing is getting deeper, my field of vision becoming broader.
I re-enter the dojo, and bow to Sensei. I greet all the others in the dojo with courtesy and a smile. I am always paying close attention to what others are doing – not only for obvious reasons of safety, but alert for the possibility that I might be missing something due to the language barrier, or just from being lost in my own thoughts. I try to be considerate of everyone.”
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