When we think of ceremonies we often think of weddings or graduations.
- If we think about a Japanese ceremony, it is generally the tea ceremony we think about.
- What is an “American” ceremony that others would recognize outside of our country? In America we do not have many ceremonies. Of course, if you have seen any event, you will notice a ceremony or celebration of some sort. When you google “American ceremonies” you will notice several Native American ceremonies. At the beginning of sporting events, we have a ceremony with the National Anthem. At the start an American football game, we begin with a coin toss, part of the ceremony to open the game.
- In karate, we bow in to start the class; this is part of our on-going ceremony to unify our sport and discipline. All the bowing at the beginning of class is an important reminder for us to leave the outside world outside of the dojo.
Ceremonies are often more than just a ritual we do daily or in class. Good ceremonies have a clear purpose and enrich the meaning and mood of the event. We recently had a black belt tie-on at the dojo. It was a fun event. It is a celebration of the accomplishments as well as the public recognition of the change. We celebrate by breaking boards and performing kata. More than that, it is a public acknowledgement to the dojo and to the rest of us that we have passed the test and belong.
At my second degree ceremony, it was about recognizing my fellow students who passed the same testing that I did as well as that self-recognition that now I am a second degree black belt at the dojo. My outlook on who I am changed after the belt was tied around me by our sensei.
I was able to bring a new white belt to the dojo on Tuesday. As a part of his first day at the dojo, he was transformed by the subtle ceremonies we have at the dojo:
- First he changed into a uniform and added a new white belt to the uniform. He now looked like the other students in the dojo.
- We bowed prior to entering the dojo (see prior posts) to show that we are leaving the world behind.
- He learned our phrases in Japanese that we say when we bow into the class. All this was new, and sometimes I just take for granted that yes, this is what we do.
- He learned some basic skills and wants to come back for more.
Seeing the ceremony through the eyes of my friend was refreshing for me. I was reminded of the first time I brought my son to the dojo and how strange it all was. The ceremonies and routines were not mine. Now that I have some experience with martial arts, I sometimes find myself bowing on entering rooms or responding to a question with Yes (“hai” or sometimes the word “oss”). Have you ever done that? Sensei Mae has as well!
How about you, have you been to a black belt tie-on ceremony? We need more ceremonies to celebrate the accomplishments we have achieved. Passing a black belt test should have a well thought out ceremony, and I am pleased to say we have that at our dojo.
- We may be tempted to sometimes skip the formal event as it requires planning and work on our part to organize the ceremony. At our house we have a “celebrate plate.” It is just a plate with the word “celebrate” on it and when we do something well in the family, we get the celebrate plate for the evening meal to recognize the accomplishment. Not too much work once we had the plate.
- The ceremony appropriately finishes off the prior level and we celebrate that we have moved onto the next step. We need more celebrations and ceremonies in our lives.
What ceremonies do you participate in on a regular basis? Can we add more for enhancing our daily lives and celebrating our wins on a regular basis? See you in the dojo soon for that next celebration or ceremony.