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Enter the dojo!

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Preparing for training and teaching, what to do before Tiaso!

Tiaso: To paraphrase, this term is translated as calisthenics or warm up, and when we warm up, we do what? We prepare. We prepare our mind and our body, and we can engage our Spirit for what’s next! Some say this is being in a state of Zen!

That step, “to prepare,” is necessary as martial artists! Let’s strip down preparation one more time. Physical preparation also includes – having all your gear set out and packed in advance (i.e. your gi and your belt) as well as your training equipment clean and organized. Next, plan and execute good sleeping habits between classes! Hey, do the same with your diet! Don’t forget to stayed hydrated! There is nothing worse than coming to train already dehydrated because when you exercise, your body first absorbs all the contents from your stomach! Guess what it does to your body when there’s nothing in you? It’s bad….really bad!

Mental preparation, think of anything that would distract you from going all out and make that go away asap! Also, be punctual. Go ahead and start the habit to giving yourself enough time to get there fifteen minutes early. Hey, if you’re on time you’re late and if you’re early, you’re on time! There’s stress in rushing and starting out disorganized.

Whatever thoughts or problems engaging or even attacking your mind must be fought off and put aside. They will be there later if you still want them after class!

Did you know if you kept a written checklist, your mind is now free to compartmentalize those things (tasks, thoughts, or your next lunch meeting) into the category of “Okay, I can safely come back to these.”

The fewer things on my mind before training, that’s unrelated to training, brings even more “A-game!” How? Focus! Picture your focus as a gas gauge, and all your thoughts and “to do’s” and emotions (which result from what you think about) as presses on your gas pedal. It’s so easy to walk into class running on fumes! So, together, let’s plan for a road trip! As you write these out use breathing, prayer or meditation (all 3) to clear your mind. You can spiritually cleanse your mind and Spirit by replacing any negative thoughts with a higher thought, scripture or spiritual thought.

Dojo time:

A true dojo is a family gathered around our higher ideals and truths we share and belief in one another. It should be the most encouraging, welcoming and friendly place you visit! The camaraderie built in a club (dojo) is precious, and it is each member’s duty to keep every inch of the space clean and fresh, including the subjects of conversation, the level of aggression, and amount of patience with your peers.

The dojo is a place where discouraging words are not allowed, where any lesser issues are not discussed. All are here to encourage, motivate and respect each other in the brotherhood of Bushido.

Shoes off! While a dojo is not a church or a type of holy ground, it is a type of temple – and your body is a temple – you are made in an image of something greater for you to continually fight to be more like!

We are here to all converge in a place that is peaceful, positive, sterile of stress, drama, or negativity. This is a must for us to reach our highest abilities and expression of who we were created to be, martial artists! Now, tune into the real experience happening in the dojo! Park your phones and make real friends, in real life, for life! Remember your job is to cheer and help sharpen each other! Be open to correction and, on the occasion, being rebuked (reprimanded).

Head Down! When we bow as we enter the dojo, it is simply an opportunity to show honor and respect to our instructors and our art. If a student’s personal faith makes this uncomfortable, they should stand at the edge of mat and wait to be recognized by the Sensei or highest rank available.

Great quote in a silly movie Kentucky Fried Movie “ We forge our bodies in the iron of our wills! “ While we are here to exercise our bodies and focus our minds, it is really the will we want to strengthen. We can then follow the charge to “do everything with all of our heart!” And for a simple review, the heart has 3 ingredients – the mind (thoughts), will, and emotions, (feelings).

Mezi-nokami = “mind like water”: This old visualization teaches, “a still body of water equals a clear mind.” Another ancient quote states: “Your mind is like the water. When it is agitated it becomes difficult to see, but when you let it settle, the answer becomes clear.” - Kung Fu Panda

Using this picture to visualize waves of thought, we capture and deal with them one at a time until they roll to the edge and away so you can have a clear mind. The thoughts hold and push emotions, which can be symbolized as things floating on the surface. Or are the emotions waves and thoughts objects in the stream? Or do the thoughts push the emotions? Best if they both obey the current. Imagine a smooth stream instead of a still water – the current is directed by your will – it’s up to you positive or negative!

Bruce Lee said have emotional content, not anger! This can be said as passion stronger than emotion! What are you passionate about? Great movie quote from “Cool Hand Luke“ get your mind right!”

Our mission as artists is to continually commit ourselves to progress in our training to be better each time and have a contagious and positive attitude that makes Champion’s of us all!

The “military bearing,” the discipline and order in the dojo, is to create an environment to build the will, the mind, the spirit in the essence of “espri de cor.” We do this in a positive manner, not by the boot camp mentality that we must “break em down” and then “build em back up,” but we positively teach, encourage, and correct through the eyes of faith. This means we see what a person can be, not through the lens of where they presently are. There was a great spontaneous rap that took hold..” I’ve seen ya, in the future, and you look a lot better than you do right now!” That’s what every higher rank must see in each student from day one!

One of the best examples ever was a Black Belt by the name of Dave Hewitt. Dave had the most disciplined habits, actions, and words of all the instructors. He was always early to class, never missed a class, and made it his mission to personally shake hands as well as give words of encouragement to every person who walked in the dojo. He taught by example, serving first, and was a master of highlighting what was good in each student.

Dave believed if a person came in not feeling valued, knowledgeable, they left feeling great about themselves and if they didn’t, they hadn’t done their job. As Dave had graduated to the ultimate dojo!

The reason you “Taiso” yourself first is so you can then do it for others! Every time you visit the dojo you have the opportunity to change the world, one kind act or word at a time! We not only build martial artists (hard workers) but champions of Life!

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