Shoes Outside the Dojang

By M. Hege

Shoes. Why do we remove our shoes before entering the studio? The short answer is out of respect and tradition. But there is more it than that. Jidokwan traditions are never practiced without underlined reasons. Remember, physically our art is one primarily of using our feet. We should be reminded to have a good foundation. We show our respect to our fellow students by taking our shoes off before we enter and not bringing the dirt or odors from our shoes into the studio. But that is not all!

Everything we do, even outside the studio may be considered martial art practice, including taking off our shoes. Before we remove our shoes, take a moment to view rightly the other shoes already placed there. Then think rightly, are they aligned straight? Are they organized in neat orderly rows? To a new student visiting our studio for the first time, does the placement of the shoes outside the door reflect the pride we hold for our studio? If not, take a moment to act rightly and straighten them.

Place them in pairs side by side, large to small. In this way we honor our studio and we honor our art. By straightening the shoes, we also lead by example, allowing others to emulate our right actions, whom in turn, may be inspired to follow. We are doing more than straightening shoes. Just as when we practice Taekwondo we are doing more than punching and kicking.We are striving to develop our character, and to be of service to others. In this way we grow our wisdom and maintain our sense of discipline, purpose and respect. Then we may rightly receive honor.

If the shoes are already carefully placed when you arrive, consider with respect how and where to place ones own shoes. Take pride in the work, not in yourself. Be considerate of others. In this way we can clear our mind, humble ourselves, and begin the practice of Taekwondo before even entering the studio. In this way we have an opportunity to practice the spirit of Taekwondo off the mat.

Will the shoes get mixed up again? Yes, of course! But this does not reduce the importance of acting rightly. Thus is life. That is why we continue to practice. To continue to make corrections and improvements. Now, take a moment to observe the work. At this point one may consider how we are like our shoes. Are we clean and neat? Are we orderly and placed with purpose? Or, are we a stinky pile in a jumbled mess? Will we get mixed up again? Of course! We are now ready to enter the studio with a proper attitude and continue the work we have already started outside, on the inside.

태권도 지도관

Shoes outside the studio
jumbled stinky mess.
Stop consider our purpose,
spirit of cleanliness.

Humbly place the shoes
orderly thoughtful rows.
Focus on our practice,
wisdom then grows.
-M. Hege

8 Mannerisms of Solemnity
12th principle in "The Twenty Guiding Priciples of Karate: The Spiritual Legacy of the Master" by Gichin Funakoshi
The Bible, John 13:1-20