Why was this not practiced at the old dojo? Well, mainly because it wasn’t necessary: we went barefoot or sock-footed over the mats to the changing room then stepped right unto the mats from there. Not so anymore, now we have to step through other people’s foot-sweat and shoe-debris…
and thus we introduce an old tradition into our new dojo.
In aikido dojos, it is customary to wear zori when off the mat (i.e. between the changing room and the mats). This is done to keep the mats clean, in respect for each other’s cleanliness, not to mention in respect for visitors to our dojo. Once you step on the mats, you place your zori with the heel to the mats, in an orderly fashion.
“Zori are flat and thonged Japanese sandals made of rice straw or other plant fibers, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, rubber, or—increasingly—synthetic materials. Zori are quite similar to flip-flops, which first appeared in the United States sometime around World War II as rubber imitations of the wooden thong sandals long worn in Japan.” (see rest of the wikipedia article)
The original article about “Zori – The Culture of the Japanese Sandal” in the perspective of martial arts (from which the picture above is borrowed, by the way) is no longer available online, but there is a rendering of it in Judomania Online (in Norwegian).
Stavanger Aikido is going to follow this tradition in the new dojo, so please go ahead and get yourself a pair. It is quite acceptable to get western-style flip-flops, but if you prefer Japanese zori, you can order these from Bob.
Once the Stavanger MMA Center provides shoeracks, we might be able to keep our zori at the dojo, but in the mean time, it is a good idea to keep a pair of zori in your training bag. Besides, you might visit other dojos or attend a seminar or two (where this is definitely practiced!).
Tip: You can find flip-flops for 10 kr. at Nille