In my nearly 20 years of dojo involvement, I have seen some strange things. The ones that have continued, been reinforced or grown over the years are each a dojo mystery. They are just strange little things that make me wonder.
THE SPARRING GLOVE MYSTERY
Why do we have seven extra right hand sparring gloves and no lefties? Many years ago, I noticed a few extra right-hand sparring gloves in the lost and found. I thought that was a mystery, since these surely had a match calling out to the owner to find their mate. But they have stayed there and we have accumulated more, not just lost, but also left behind in the used gear. Most people are right-handed, so I would think that if one glove were to get worn or break and go in the trash, it would more often be the right glove. So shouldn’t we have more leftie gloves left over?
THE PUSH-UP MYSTERY
Why can you do way more clapping push-ups when the class is watching? And more in class than at home? I don’t know why, but I have found these things to be true for me. That helps me to value the opportunity to train in group classes. I also appreciate sometimes having or giving the opportunity of the challenge of performing push-ups or other moves or kata in front of the class.
THE MYSTERY OF THE ONE LATE STUDENT
Why in the rare occurrence that only one person is going to come to class, they are almost always late? Every once in a while, especially in the summer or around holidays, we will have only one person show up for class. That’s not so strange. The mystery is, why, when that happens, is that solo student almost always late to class? The instructors think that nobody’s coming, so they close down the dojo. Then the one student comes along to train.
THE ENERGY MYSTERY
Why after a big, strenuous workout in class, do I have more energy that day? This was probably my oldest dojo mystery. I will be exhausted physically, having a hard workout in class, barely able to complete the physical task. Then after we bow out and I leave, I will be full of energy to take on the day.
THE BURNOUT MYSTERY
Why are the students who push themselves to move quickly through the belts more likely to quit after several belts? We have had a handful of students over the decades who move much faster through the ranks than most. These students have tested every month for several months in a row. We don’t necessarily like this because all good things take time. But when they can perform their curriculum at the level we expect and they use the rules and good behavior, we promote them. They seem like a flame that burns bright, showing off their progress. But sadly they burn out quickly and don’t get far in the advanced ranks. They quit of their own accord. That is the great burnout mystery. On a slightly different topic, here’s an article for teachers about Balance Beats Burnout.
I’m sure some of these great dojo mysteries are universal and happen to other instructors and other dojos. But I wonder what mysteries other dojos and practitioners experience?