Just shortly before I got my green belt in karate I was already teaching new students. The thought behind this that you should be able to show someone how to bow in to the dojo, into class, prepare for class, and take them through the basics. The finer points of teaching will come much later. Of course this is one of the core principles of the Traditional Shorin Ryu class – To Teach Teachers. The main instructor decided I would focus on teaching and running a dojo.
While in high school I had to take various courses, one of them was a speech and communications class. One assignment was to demonstrate something. I tell my instructors my assignment and they show me everything I need to know about the wrist lock. I get to class and I picked the biggest baddest varsity wrestler (and friend). I demonstrated that it doesn’t matter how small you are, the bigger they are the harder they fall. Ironically we were in the same speech and communications class during our college years. When the assignment was announced he started crying, but more on this later
All of the time in my Shorin Ryu class, I feel like I should take my time and teach what I know. After all it is what I learned to do in that class. In the last few years I have found myself dreaming about owning a dojo. I know exactly how I would have it set up. As they say in business it is all about location, location, location. With that in mind I was running around with my wife one day and we saw an empty Lowes building (original store had outgrown itself and moved across the street into a bigger facility). I looked at her and said “you know that would make a great dojo.” She looked at me and responded “Kind of over kill don’t you think?” I replied no. Secretly I was envisioning a full scale ninja training complex. It has become a running joke when we are in the car and I see commercial land or building for sale or rent. I look at her and say “There you go honey, that place would make a great dojo.”
Then one day while running around town; I noticed an empty space at the local strip mall. I looked at my wife and asked her what she
thought they were going to put in there. Without thinking she responded “Probably a dojo”.
This has been a running gag for a few years now. Kind of similar to the Punch Bug game for when you’re in a car and another passenger spots a VW Bug first and gets to hit the person who didn’t see it. Instead of Punch Bug our thing became a dojo punch. Except I don’t punch my wife; she punches back.
What makes a good dojo?
Truth be told, any place can be a good dojo or practice hall. It is what you as an instructor put into the lessons and concepts for your students. There is an experience to be shared between teacher and student; whether or not it leaves a lasting impression on the student’s life. Lastly, the student can apply the knowledge outside the boundaries of the dojo.
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