The idea around a WE Dojo has started to unfold. A community where we dive deep into the Wider Embraces practice, learn and develop together. I’ve chosen the word ’Dojo’ because I have a background in martial arts and zen, and I really like the meaning and quality of the word.
This text is about the deeper aspects of a Dojo. You can read more about the specific things around the WE Dojo and join here but read this first!
Do – The Path
’Do’ means path or way. It’s the same ’do’ as in Aikido, Judo, Kendo and so on. A path we walk together with the aim to master it and develop ourselves.
Jo – The Place and Community
’Jo’ is the place, a sacred space. In our case, it’s a global, online community.
You enter and leave a dojo consciously, stopping at the threshold and bow to the place. Inside is a dedicated space for growth and training. Outside is the rest of the world.
When I was training aikido and entered the dojo, the change in space was noticeable. I sensed the Embrace, though back then, I called it the dojo.
A Dojo is not a course or an education that you go to, and then you are finished; a dojo has no ending. It’s an infinite journey to master a martial art or dive out into our Wider Embraces. There is no end to the depths to explore and the skills to refine. It’s an ongoing experience, fulfilling in itself. Though, all the knowledge you acquire is yours to bring out into the world, whenever you feel ready.
Participants, Senpais and the Guide
To build a dojo is something we do together. Everyone has a role and everyone matters. In a martial art dojo, there are mainly three roles; sensei, senpais and kohais.
During a Wider Embraces session, we are all participants, and then we have two specific roles: the guide and the senpais. We haven’t found the perfect word in English for this role, so we stick to the Japanese word, senpai, for now.
The senpais are the more experienced participants, and they have a vital role both during a session and in the WE dojo. They are setting the tone and are the role models. During a Wider Embraces session, the guide can’t be an example to the participants because the guide has a specific task. To have a senpai onboard who can set an example is invaluable.
Democratic and Hierarchical – Form and Content
Japan is a very hierarchical society, and in Sweden, we like to be equal and democratic. These two ways of organising and leading a group of people are fundamentally different, but both are necessary to make the WE Dojo a safe and creative space.
I was one of two senseis in Lund’s Aikidoclub for 15 years, and our solution was to divide the leadership of the dojo into two distinct categories: Form and Content. We had a democratically elected board, who took care of all things around money, marketing, renting and maintaining the place, arranging parties and so on. And I and the other sensei were responsible for what and how to train, who should teach and graduations. Of course, we all cooperated and had a dialogue.
Right now, I’m filling all these roles in the WE Dojo, though I’m looking forward to seeing this change and that we will find a form where we are all contributing and forming the WE Dojo together.
Join the WE Dojo
If you only want to participate in guided Embraces, the WE Dojo is not for you. There will be open sessions for everyone to join. But if the text above makes your heart open and your mind curious, read about the practical things here and join!
Photo from my journey to Japan in 1994