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What is a dojo?

A recent question asked and answered very well as will be indicated in the following. 

A dojo as a place where you learn budo. The main way in which a dojo is distinctive from a club has...”little to do with the architecture of the place or the way people dress for training; the distinction has everything to do with the nature of the struggle going on inside each individual.” - Michael Clarke

The essence of what a dojo is is determined by the internal struggle of the individual. It, as stated so eloquently by Mr. Clarke, is not a place with special architectural designs as found in older more traditional dojo buildings in Asia. It is not about the internal trappings such as a layout and zen or Buddhist trappings. It is not about the uniform you wear, if any. It is about the struggle you encounter when you practice in a traditionally oriented dojo environment. 

In Michael Clarke’s words…”Without a spirited assault on your ego, the true value of karate will remain forever beyond your reach”. A “spirited assault” involves a lot of hard, physical training, self examination and reflection as well as personal reading and research.

A dojo is a place in your environment where one takes up the challenge in overcoming your ego, pride and other such external trappings of the spirit. It is more in line with self reflection and self examination using a singular practice of a system that involves the spirit, mind and body. 

In a dojo the student is expected to take full responsibility for their own training. The onus is on them to make progress.

The distinction of the dojo as a place in misleading. A dojo is anywhere one places a personal effort toward training, practice and application of the full spectrum of a martial system encompassing the essence of a budo art be it karate, kobudo or other system of which there are many. 

The practice of budo is an individual and lonely path by definition so it shouldn’t matter too much what environment you train in

Even when in a group exchanging practices, trainings and experiences one is truly still practicing and training from an individual state. A dojo, regardless of when, where and how, is simply a place where one trains budo, i.e. at your desk, on a walk outside, or in a place built with a particular goal of providing space in which one can reflect, examine and apply the spirit, mind and body effort of martial arts properly. 

1 comment:

  1. Possibly a more relatable example or question is, 'What is a school?' A school can be a physical institution or location, but it can also be a 'school of thought.' For instance, the school of Rembrandt does not refer to a physical presence, it is a way of thinking. This is why I refer to the school of Jan de Jong. It has nothing to do with 996 Hay Street, Perth.