Until recently I found the end-of-class ritual in kendo of lining up in seiza and bowing to the sensei(s) to be a polite formality. When we bow (head down to just above hands placed palm-down on the floor) we all say, “Thank you very much” (どうもありがとうございました).
Now when I do this, I feel a sense of true gratitude and it has been making me look forward to practice because I know that I will end with a sense of accomplishment.
This change happened because of my focus on executing good techniques as an end to themselves instead of just as a tactic to strike someone. As a result, I feel more free and relaxed and I feel too that I am just starting to improve on a basic level as well.
This reminds me that a dojo, no matter where or what the physical location actually is (in our case, it’s a basketball court at a community center) transforms into a place and time where like-minded people come together to learn from each other, testing their limits and improving themselves. I polish my soul and I feel grateful to my teachers and fellow students.