Earning a black belt in the way of clean.

Like a stealthy cleaning ninja, Marie Kondo is kicking clutter to the curb. Don’t let her petite voice and four foot seven frame fool you, Marie Kondo will invade your house and your mind.

She is the Japanese Queen of Clean and has been preparing for her role since childhood. Marie Kondo had practised her art daily by cleaning up classroom bookshelves until eventually achieving enlightenment by dramatically fainting on clutter. She realized her true calling and was willing to let go of old views and commit to helping others find peace. Marie Kondo rules over clutter with a firm hand. “Does this bring me Joy?” if not it’s time for the object to be dismissed (with respect of course as she does enjoy engaging with clutter, her most worthy opponent).

Thanks to the teachings of Marie Kondo (illustrated in four books and now a Netflix tv series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”), I have advanced from Soji-do (the way of tidying) to my first dan in KonMari-do.

“Ethics of the dōjō: courtesy, cleanliness, dilligence.”

KonMari-do is the application of Marie Kondo techniques to transform your space and your life by identifying what makes you happy and eliminating what does not. Implementing traditional martial arts principles; it is considered that a dojo (the house we train/live in) is special and should be well cared for by its users. Shoes are not worn in the dojo and a ritual cleaning is conducted at the beginning and end of each training session. Shōshin Nagamine founder of Matsubayashi-ryū style karate-do in the 1960s hung this sign in in his dojo: “Ethics of the dojo: courtesy, cleanliness, diligence.”; Marie Kondo: “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Cleaning reinforces that the idea that the dojo, our home, is supported by the people who enter it. It is the effort of letting the past go in preparing for the future, and being completely focused on the present. If the mind is distracted by clutter or mess it cannot concentrate or stay focused.

For example take a look at Daniel LaRusso, he had to wax the car, sand the floors, paint the fence, all before he realized Mr. Miyagi had used the chores to train him in karate defensive maneuvers. These chores emptied his mind and allowed his body to physically absorb karate-do.
There are many kinds of practiced arts and one could say Karate-do is at one with the basis of all martial arts. Fundamentally the form of the universe is emptiness (kara) and thus emptiness is form itself. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form itself. The kara of Karate-do has this meaning.

So perhaps KonMari-do, the way of Marie Kondo is really just another methodology to study martial arts. Kon (this) Ma (truth) Ri (cleverness) is just a method of taking what we learn in the dojo and in meditation halls keep our physical spaces empty and clutter-free so that we can empty our minds and remove the distractions that abstain us from also reaching an enlightened sense of self.

Cleaning is one step toward inner peace.

Janine Parkinson

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