ENTERING THE DOJO

There are those that no matter where they go, will always have difficulty accepting the environment they wish to enter. Some float around from dojo to dojo, teacher to teacher but, always seem to end up having a problem with some students or the instructor and have to leave. Some have preconceived ideas of what they think, want, or believe the martial arts dojo to be. Some attend the dojo for spiritual reasons, some just want to fight, some just want to do exercise with a sports mentality, some want to compete and win a medal. All of these reasons need to become transparent in order to understand the path of budo. There are those that donít even practice and just write books, yet they believe they know what the martial arts is. There are those that sadly become a part of a group that knocks at your door inviting you to become a black belt and teacher within 3 months. This is not martial arts, it is business. You cannot call yourself or even think of yourself as a martial artist if you accept to be in an environment like this. If you think otherwise, you are living in a fantasy.

       True Budo is not that trivial and easy to come across. With the distractions and misconceptions around us regarding the martial arts, many people become lost in their search. They often then settle for what is convenient, or what appeals to their limited belief of what the dojo and martial arts practice should look like. Many martial art centers now present themselves as a sport. They have "bastardized" the essence of the art for a society that seems to regard "sport" as more important than "culture" and "art".

       The dojo is a place where your aim is to go beyond your current capacity and courageously venture into realms of confronting challenge, difficulty, and hardship both physically, mentally and emotionally. The dojo is and never was meant to be an easy place to just hang out, be social, and escape your problems. The dojo is a place where you come to confront these issues and challenges. If you cannot perceive the dojo in such a way, then you are not training. The dojo is a place for rehabilitation of all realms of the self. It is important to take what you do seriously, yet do not take yourself so seriously that you become to stern, rigid and unforgiving in your attitude and movement. Martial arts is about balance. This is why there needs to be room for the students to "figure out" for themselves what is required.

As teachers, if we spoon feed the students, they may become beautiful clones but have no true understanding of what they are doing. The timing, angle and manner ( kamae ) of the teachers intervention is crucial. To try and control the studentís every step would be counter-productive and not allow them the freedom " to see" for themselves their strengths, weaknesses, shortcomings etc.

              Every time you practice, it should be with a sense of purpose. This purpose is to delve deeper into the heart of budo. It will be constantly challenging, painful, unsettling, yet fun, enjoyable and rewarding. This is the duality of the study. In order to know both sides and develop a compassionate heart, we need to be balanced. From this path, we can develop a greater capacity to accept more, and gain a true awareness of what is it to be a Bu geisha ( martial artist ).