The line

In aikidō, is customary to line-up a the beginning and the end of the class, and, depending on the dōjō, while the teacher explains. As the dōjō floor is covered with rectangular tatami mats, the natural thing is to line up on one of the lines drawn by the separation between the mats. Our dōjō is built in some repurposed office space and is thus pretty long and narrow, so there is not much depth between the people lining up and the 正面 (shōmen), the main wall that hosts the 神棚 (kamidana), the space where o-sensei’s picture is placed, which is sometimes decorated with flowers. People do not want to be too much in the front, so they line up on a tatami separation, leaving close to no space behind them and making it thus difficult for people to circulate behind, which is bad. The main teacher tries regularly to have the students line-up more to the front, not on a tatami line, but his efforts are thwarted by human nature: it is very hard to not line up on a line…

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