Today I have been thinking about the “sense of belonging”. Where do I feel that sense of belonging? And what is it that gives me that feeling? For me it comes from feeling safe and secure, taken care of and protected, loved and accepted. There are several places that I feel that: At home, in my church, and in the dojo.
At the moment I want to think about the dojo, I will deal with the others later. This sense of belonging may seem out of place to anyone who is not in the martial arts, and probably to some martial artists too. Feeling safe and protected seems out of place in the study of martial arts. But the dojo is home to me. Physically, I might come out battered and bruised sometimes. Mentally and emotionally, I might have been pushed to the limit (or even past it) sometimes. But the dojo has been a place where I have faced my fears and been taught to overcome them. The dojo is a place where I have found teachers who accept me for who I am and lead me further along the path. In the dojo I have been taught how to protect myself and keep myself safe, wherever I go. In spite of the nature of what we do there, the dojo is a safe place for me, a retreat from the outside world, a place where I can learn to meet the attacks that come in the world outside. Yes, we give and take bumps and bruises; but in this we share our pain. We also share hugs and liniment and ibuprofen. And in amongst it all we share a lot of laughter, sweat and hard work, time, and a lot of life. We fight together and a strong bond is formed. The dojo gives me a definite sense of belonging. Perhaps the church and our homes could learn some lessons from the dojo.