In The Dojo

The word “dojo” is translated as “Place of the Way” . When we enter the dojo we are not there simply to learn thrusting, blocking, or kicking. We practice karate – DO, or the way of karate. It is not about mastering complicated techniques or even simple ones. It has nothing to do with dominating others or becoming invincible. It is concerned with fighting least of all.

Then again, karate has to do with all of these things. We practice all of these things. We thrust. We block. We do these things over and over again. We learn techniques from out kata for self- defense and even to dominate another person. We keep in the back of our minds at all times the very real possibility of battle and having to use what we have learned in the dojo as a very real event outside of it.

People who pass by or come in to the dojo merely see what meets the eye; the very outer surface of what we do. What they don’t see are the three elements of spirit that make up the three circles of our art and style: endurance, harmony and humility.

Endurance is the doing of things which drive you past what you believe are your physical limitations. It is the expansion of one’s efforts to accomplish what was previously thought to be impossible no matter how great or small.

Harmony is balance. It is the balance of the mind, the body, and the spirit. It is balancing power and the force inside of yourself to blend your techniques into one smooth frictionless flow.

Humility is the taming of the ego. It is to come to terms and realize that the individual is part of everything and everything a part of her. It is letting go of the “I am” inside of yourself and understand that, yes you are…but you are only a part.

Kihon, or basic techniques, are building blocks. They are like pieces of a puzzle that when placed together make a complete picture. They are your foundation. Just as a tree has roots, you also have roots in your basic techniques. If the roots of a tree are weak the tree will be blown away in a heavy wind. If the roots are strong the tree may sway and bend but the roots will keep it anchored.

Domination is not only wrong it breaks harmony and disrupts the entire flow of the dojo. Domination stems from the ego. It comes from the part inside of us that demands us to be better than anyone else. With it comes fear and a host of other negative emotions. With the attitude of domination comes the mind- set that everything is a competition and that the student has to be better than everyone else. Frustration will closely follow. It soon becomes easier to point fingers at another person and blame them for what one believes they cannot accomplish. Jealousy will follow close behind. Once this has penetrated the dojo, like a disease, it will spread.

When someone leaves these kinds of thoughts behind and focuses on practicing for themself and to make themselves better, A family type of environment can be achieved. Instead of thinking always of making yourself better than the next person, think of how you can make the other person better. In time you will see improvements in yourself. This is part of respect. When you give another respect, you will be respected yourself. People will learn “self” control instead of merely learning control. By watching out for, and taking care of, each other that family atmosphere is created. As domination and negative feelings were like a disease, this type of attitude becomes like a vitamin and makes the dojo stronger.

Work with each other. Help each other grow no matter age or rank.

Share what you know. Don’t just share your knowledge of a kata or technique but of life.

Positive energy is a wonderful thing. In the dojo it can take the classes from being a task and turn them into a joy. Once you start giving this energy to the dojo and your fellow students you will begin to receive it back. It becomes contagious and soon the dojo itself is a place that no one would rather be. It becomes what it should be: a place of warmth and light to all that enter it.

People will walk by and see you fighting. People will stop in and see you working on techniques to defend yourself. They may take that at face value and see what they wish to see. Some of them will see that but they will feel something different. They will know that your dojo is special even if they can’t put a finger on why.

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