Mind / Body Strength Through Dojo Etiquette

November 1, 2014

Our school has practical street self defense technique and advice administered and practiced daily, but our core belief is still to be a traditional dojo with all classes run in the most traditional manner. Why is this? We believe that traditional martial arts breeds discipline, mind/ body strength and self-defense expertise without fear of possibly dangerous confrontations because of the intensity of the spirit instilled during our classes. The only way to keep the school a traditional one is to teach and learn more through example.

I lead the way a traditional art should be practiced, our top members have absorbed the example that was placed before them, and they in turn show the example to others so that the entire dojo is run both fully traditionally and uniformly. It is not always easy to do this, but keeping our dojo as one that values the things that have made people mentally and physically strong and healthy is worth it. One thing lost by so many people is the formality that must exist in a traditional school. The bow is the prime example of this. Another is how we speak to each other.

Watch people like Martha Gerty and Deb Daugherty speak to me and everyone here. They keep an edge of formality even when they are having fun. Dojo have always maintained a formal way of speaking to each other as a vehicle to become more orderly and disciplined while showing respect to their school and to the other members. Some people get it and others are not quite there yet, but showing through example not meaningless conversation is the way to encourage this. Let me give you an example of someone getting it as far as great black belt attitude and respect that is never forced upon anyone.

On Wednesday, September 15th, Mr. Brandon Everson called to say he would not be here for class. When I answered the phone, the voice and the other said “hello Sensei this is Mr. Everson.” Before he even continued, I said to myself he gets it!

I have known him and his family for years so why would he say this is Mr. Everson?

It is because he is a sharp person and he understands what a traditional dojo is and how you should speak and act there. Calling yourself and others formal names adds to the necessary attitude until no one even feels funny speaking as such.

Allow me to give you still another example. A man I’ve known for over 45 years is a really good and close friend of mine. He is a Sensei and an accomplished master who has had his own dojo for much longer than I have. So, keeping in mind the length of the time I have known him, we still address each other as Mr. Kimura and Mr. Kushner because that is just what you do if you are a traditional martial arts master. I never even considered calling him by his first name at all. We even address each other as such in written or email format.

So, even though it was proper for Mr. Everson to speak as he did, I was still so pleasantly surprised to have this man quietly and simply demonstrate that he does understand what proper traditional dojo etiquette and behavior is.