As we move to our new amazing dojo this question came to mind – “What is a Dojo?”
A good place to start is to look at the word dojo written in Japanese kanji.
The first character stands for Do, or “Way” and the second for Jo, or “Place”. So, it literally means “The place where you learn the way.”
What is the “Way”? Simply, it is the way you live your life. A Dojo is a special place where you learn courage, discipline and how to become a better person. Karate has always been about three things: 1.) Learning to live your life without fear, 2.) Standing up and protecting yourself and others, and 3.) Perfection of the human character.
Where else in this fast moving, technologically drive world can you do this? This is why we have this dojo. To change lives and make a difference in this world. Thank you for being a part of it!
As far a “place”, a dojo is not about a building, training floor or even the instructors. The place where you learn and practice “the way” can be anywhere; your home, your work, your school. But here it is really not about this nice new building but much more about the people, the families, who give this place life. There is an intentional clear strong “culture” here. (A culture is just a “group habit”) So, if we are successful, while you initially start here, your pursuit of “the way” continues well after you leave.
With that said, this move also gives us an opportunity to “raise the bar”. We have high expectations for our students and parents. Forgive us if we seem to ask a lot but we only do this because we know you can do it and you expect it. But, we need your help!
We know “the small things matter”. Success is all about developing all the little habits that unsuccessful people won’t do. Just consider this a test. Here four of the new standards you can help us with:
Yellow Character Stripes: The character development program is mandatory. Students will need at least two yellow character stripes to get their next belt or to do the Black Belt Camp. The good news is it only takes two weeks to earn a stripe so you can do one now and if you ask, you can complete the second one right after you get your belt.
Shoes: It may seem like a small simple thing but it is not. It is the first thing you do upon entering the dojo. It sets the tone and the habit of excellence. Like the University of Texas Commencement speaker said “If you want change the world, make your bed!” The best way to remember what to do is to apply this simple rule – Only dirty shoes on the dirty mat, and only clean feet/socks on the clean floor. We will help you. But please help your child.
Bowing upon entering the dojo and the training floor: The bow in the dojo represents respect. Respect for the dojo and others. So, please make it a point to bow upon entering the dojo and saying “Kon’nichi wa”. We will greet you with the same. Just as importantly, both students and parents please make sure to bow on and off the training floors by turning toward the floor and saying “Try My Best”. We need to really help the Little Dragons do this for the small room.
Appearance: This is not small because appearance matters. Neatness is a habit. We now have a higher expectation for how your uniform and belt look. Parents, please raise your standard and expectations with us.
So, a dojo is not a building or training floor . . . it is you! One of my favorite saying when it comes to teaching children and adults character and leadership is “You get what you tolerate”. Thank you in advanced to helping us continue to raise the standards and expectations here.
This is why we are here and this is why you are here.
I will leave you with two gifts my sensei gave me. They are two saying: “Karate is hard, that is why it is so good” and “You really don’t want to do karate but you want someone to tell you to”. Great words of wisdom to live by.