Years ago, a dojo member introduced me to an end-of year Japanese ritual which is still commonly practiced in Japan called “Kuyou” — a farewell ritual for everyday objects. It is meant as a way to show gratitude for a common object or tool that is being retired–to thank it for it’s service instead of just throwing it in the trash. In early days these rituals were for things like calligraphy brushes, sewing needles and ceramics. Today in Japan it is more common to honor things such as eyeglasses, shoes or computers.
This new years, we held a Koyou ceremony to retire the old name of our dojo as we change to a new one. In gratitude to our old name, Puget Sound Aikikai I offer the following story.
Fifteen years ago, we locked the door of our new dojo in Seattle and swore that no one could leave until we came up with a dojo name that everyone was happy with. We were committed to being a community-run dojo and this type of group decision making was in alignment with our founding values. Fifty plus variations on every possible identifying landmark, aikido reference and native american symbolism were discussed and finally, after much debate, we decided on Puget Sound Aikikai. And for the past 15 years we’ve jumped into the body of water we’re named after every New Years Eve practice in hommage.Never mind that the rest of the country has no idea where Puget Sound is–let alone can’t pronounce it.
On our 15 year anniversary the dojo is thriving. We’ve grown from a small group of ronin aikido students to a professional school with a full time instructor and a healthy membership. On Yamada Sensei’s recommendation, we are taking this anniversary as an opportunity for a name change. This time there were no long group discussions. The choice was obvious.
Welcome to the new Seattle Aikikai.
Our new dojo name, Seattle Aikikai, has a long history with the USAF and as it had not been in use for over a decade, it seemed only fitting that, as the only USAF dojo in Seattle, we resurrect the name.
On our 15 year anniversary, we offer gratitude to our roots as we look to our future. Our new name recognizes the change from a founding collective of aikidoka to an established school that will have a legacy of providing Yamada Sensei’s lineage as a USAF dojo in Seatle for years to come.