Short Stories of a Long Adventure


Short Stories of a Long Adventure


Our adventure of setting up dogi fully in line with the budo spirit of purity and harmony has lead us to making plenty of exciting discoveries on issues as diverse as O-Sensei’s spiritual teachings and the yet widely infamous world of textiles. Discover the milestones of MISOGI DOGI’s fantastic adventure so far:


Wanted – a pure dogi for aikido pilgrimage

Summer 2013 – It all started when Lucile had an opportunity to visit Japan again. During high school she had spent an exchange year in the land of the rising sun, and it became her adoptive home country. By chance, the exchange organisation had sent her to Tanabe, the aikido founder’s hometown. This is how she discovered and fell in love with aikido. 15 years later, she decided to make an aikido pilgrimage through Japan: to train in various dojos in Kyoto, Tokyo and Tanabe, to visit the aiki shrine in Iwama, O-Sensei’s grave in Tanabe and the Kumano shrines.

Shortly before starting her journey, she looked for a new dogi. As an environmentalist, she wanted one made of organic cotton and produced under fair conditions. However, no aikido uniform on the market was explicitly meeting her expectations. Her 2013 agenda book cover quoted Lily Tomlin:

I said: ‘Somebody should do shomething about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.

Lucile decided to follow in Tomlin’s footsteps: not to wait for the conventional industry to make it happen, but ‘simply’ to give it a try herself and take care of this market gap.

In Kyoto and Tokyo, she met Japanese sustainability and entrepreneurship experts and visited the headquarters of a Japanese aikidogi brand. The director was very friendly and supportive and gave her precious insights into the supply chain of aikidogis. His advice however: rather develop a supply chain directly in Europe than in Japan.



Brand Name

September 2013 | communication – The name MISOGI DOGI came up after a series of intense brainstorming and research days. Lucile was quite enthousiastic: it has a well-fitting Japanese meaning an experienced aikidoka would immediately understand. Containing a core principle of aikido, it expresses the philosophy of the project in two simple words. And last but not least, the brand can be easily pronounced in any language and sounds good. Yay!!

(further milestones coming soon…)

Emptying Your Cup Before Stepping Onto the Tatami


A famous Zen story goes as follows:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

This story illuminates that also when we study and practice aikido, it is important to always inquire within ourselves whether our cup might be full. Are we carrying weight into our dojo that limits our experience and development? The burden we carry can take many shapes and forms; beliefs, expectations, fears, or other factors that limit us. Holding on to what we believe we know or to what is familiar or right, prevents an open attitude and can be in our way of what we are yet to learn. Remembering to actively let go of our burdens empties our cup and creates room for new insight, experience and growth. In the words of O-Sensei:

Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the Way of the Warrior.

Dojo Misogi


Do you perform misogi to your dojo?

In some dojos, I am delighted to find a series of brooms on a wall or in a corner. They recall me of my first aikido trainings in Tanabe, Japan, back in 1998. There as well, at the end of each aikido lesson, the students would grab a broom and sweep the tatami together, from the outer area to the centre. A very nice way – pure Japanese tradition – to take care of the dojo.