One of the first karate terms you will learn in Japanese is the word dojo.
The dojo is the place that you go to meet your karate instructor in order to perform.
The direct Japanese translation of the word means “area of the way.” In this case “the way” meaning the way of martial arts that you are practicing. The dojo can be big or small, sparse Burwell equipped. The fact remains it is something of a special place for all karateka.
Traditionally the students of the sensei in Japan would help clean and take care of the place. Now of course, in today’s society, you are not expected to clean it like it would’ve been in ancient Japan. But you are expected to be respectful of the dojo whenever you are in it or near it.
And because the dojo is truly the heart of the entire sport of karate, a conservative many more functions than just training. Some sensei’s choose to store their artifacts and weights and it. You might find Japanese musical instruments, swords, karate belt displays, and armor for advanced students to use. There really isn’t a common dojo because every school and instructor will put their own personal touch on the physical location.
Some people even go to the dojo to meditate or to have a karate open house. Both are perfectly acceptable things to do.
Because remember, the dojo is literally the main place of karate and should be there to serve all of its functions.
There are a few dojo rules that you will be expected to follow:
- Take off your shoes when entering the dojo.
- If your sensei wants you to, undergo the ritual cleaning both before and after your practice.
- If you have visitors to the dojo, be respectful of them into not interfere.
- You will stand relative to the instructor. They’ll show you what to do.
In the country of Japan, many dojos have a very sacred feeling about them. There are elements of aikido and symbols of Zen Buddhism present. If you are lucky enough to ever get to visit these consider yourself very fortunate to get to see such sacred spaces.
In fact, even some ancient dojos are built with special sacred architecture.
Unfortunately many modern dojos are not built with the same sacred shine systems as they were in the past. But if you ever are lucky enough to find one person is built following ancient Japanese principles, it will be a great place for you to train.