When I first visited the honbu dojo I was quite surprised at the almost shabby state of Sensei’s floor – a real patchwork quilt of potholes and duc tape. Bruised, cracked and bandaged, I remember thinking that it reminded me of an aged and beaten opponent. And, with all its war wounds I’d sometimes wonder what stories it might have to tell.
I’ve heard about visitors to the honbu dojo who have intentionally tried to put a foot through Sensei’s floor. I don’t know if I can believe such stories, but accidents do happen, and the dojo floor has seen its fair share of them.
To look at it, it’s certainly not what you’d expect from a world famous dojo. But thinking about it, it couldn’t be a more fitting home for traditional karate – humility and simplicity.
Armed with little more than hammers and chisels, the students of the honbu dojo today tried to resusitate the old wooden floor before Sensei returns from his travels abroad. And, I have to say; carpentry is harder work than it looks. The job’s not done yet but it’s getting their slowly and I think everyone is looking forward to the feeling of smooth timber under our feet.
Part of me does wonder though if Sensei won’t miss his little boobie traps – tape that constantly trips and tests us challenging our suriashi. In class the famous words “don’t lift your heels” seems to be regularly followed by the sound of stumbling. And, while Sensei knowingly glides around the floor like on ice, for the rest of us, there’s nothing like gummy patches of tape to challenge one’s ability to stick, without getting stuck.