Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On June - 25 - 2015

81ed8a29447e588b4a9dde5847c731ebDojo Etiquette is something that we all seem to forget at times. I am not talking about the little things like bowing while entering and exiting the dojo or which direction your shoes should be facing after you remove them. I am talking more about your actions on the dojo floor.

First off, let’s talk about what it means to be a black belt. When you first tie the coveted belt around your waist it means that you have mastered the basics and are about to start to learn karate. It is not an invitation to tell every kyu rank (color belt) what they are doing wrong. Remember when you were a kyu rank. Did every black belt come over and pick apart your techniques? I highly doubt it. Unless you are asked to help someone then it is not your job to give them any advise. If you are an instructor but are training at someone else’s dojo, do not critique students that are not yours. You are not there as an instructor. Also, do not approach another black belt to offer help. You may think that you understand the exercise you are working on but then again maybe not. It is possible as well that the person you approach may out rank you.

Ego is the greatest enemy of a karateka. When you enter a dojo, you are supposed to be checking your ego at the door. Those that think that they know everything and can do nothing wrong, are usually the ones that are the last to get a new skill. They just can’t accept constructive criticism. If the instructor is looking in their direction and offering corrections, the student is thinking that the instructor must be talking to someone else. The further you can push your ego out the quicker you will reach the goal of emptiness. 

Training in groups is a big part of karate. Without partners, our skills can not be tested. Without a target, we will be nervous about using our techniques in a real life scenario. I can understand not wanting to work with certain people. The worst is working with someone that just doesn’t understand distancing and constantly hits. I know that accidents happen and you will take a punch or a kick every once in a while. I am talking about the students that constantly hit. No matter what the exercise is, they are making contact. Now if you give back what you receive, these people will complain. They can dish it out but they can’t take it.

When you are working in groups try not to avoid working with people because you have personal issues with them. Remember that in a dojo, everyone is family. I can bet that you have family that you do not get along with. You are only in a dojo for a couple of hours a week. I don’t think that you should have to worry about avoiding someone in the dojo for a few minutes of partner training. I do understand if there is something going on that causes a great deal of discomfort. If there are major issues, speak to your instructor.

We have lost the respect in the dojo for the instructor. When I first started training, I remember no one talking back to the instructor or questioning their training methods. This as gone to the wayside some what. Years ago, you were not allowed to speak to instructors. If you had a question for an instructor, you would have to ask a higher black belt and they would ask the instructor. Then they would return and give you the answer to your question.

In Japan, especially in Okinawa, a dojo is not treated like a gym. You go to a gym to work out and don’t care about how you behave while there. In Okinawa and other parts of Japan, the dojo is usually part of the instructor’s home. You must approach going to the dojo like going to the instructors home. Knock on the door and wait to be let in. Bow when greeted at the door and upon entering, help the others get the dojo ready to train. Sometimes this means moving furniture and cleaning the floor. You don’t stand around loudly talking but quietly warm up and prepare for training. A gym and a dojo are two very different things. You workout in a gym, you train in a dojo. A workout is exertion to improve your physical fitness. It is usually one or two people working with inanimate objects (ie: weights) to improve their overall health. Training has a mental component and usually involves instructors or coaches teaching you and helping to improve on your skills. We need to separate the dojo and gym from each other and get back to training.

We have taken a step away from the traditional dojo experience but have also forgotten that we still need to show respect while on the floor. We as black belts need to make sure that the kyu levels coming up know what it means to respect the dojo, the other students and instructors. We are the role models for the future, let’s be sure to be good ones.




Categories: Teaching/Training

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