The dojo we currently have is a result of the vision of our Shihan coupled with a lot of work. It was an old auto parts store when we took it over. Practice was put on hold. Truckloads of junk were removed. Walls were built, paint applied, floors scrubbed. From where we started, it is a amazing transformation.
If I arrive early at the dojo, entering the dim and silent building feels special, like entering a grotto or a church. But it is when the class has gathered and bowed in that the dojo comes alive. I found a poem on the Bermuda Aikikai site that reflected how I feel.
A place where the Way of Aikido is practised.
A place for forging the body and spirit.
A place for enlightenment.
A dojo is not a gym for mere "working out".
It is more than just a building.
It is a sacred place that cannot be defined by it's geographical location,
the height of it's walls, or the value of it's contents.
It is defined by the spirit emanating from within it,
individual, collective, and it's universal spirit.
A dojo should be appreciated by seeing it with one's heart.