Sogo – Preparing the Dojo


In the remote mountain village where I live there are many ruins. Some are abandoned, most have lost their roofs. Nature reclaims them all. 

Whilst scouting for a quiet spot to film content for a couple of junior trainees back in London I found this secluded walled garden. Venturing beyond a pair of rusting gates overgrown with grapevine I could immediately see the potential. It’s a perfect space for building a small dojo.

Two hours in and I’ve already made a good attempt at clearing the rubble littered and overgrown ground. I sense it was likely an outdoor animal pen in its prime. Any remains of its former wood and tiled roof have made the transformation to charred ash and loamy soil. I might seed it as a lawn.

“Preparing your space to train is part of the Japanese concept of sogo”

Back in England the juniors would organise themselves fetching a bucket of water and rags to run lines cleaning the floor before training. It has obvious hygiene benefits but beyond this is the spiritual practise of humility and respect for the group. Whenever we trained outdoors in public we extended this concept to clearing litter.

Bugeikan juniors clean the dojo floor before training

The basic premise is to leave a place better than when you found it.

In the next post I explore some potential uses for some of the rubbish I cleared.

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