Karate is a Japanese discipline. As a result, we use many Japanese words in everyday context in the dojo. We provide explanations for these words but sometimes, meaning is lost in translation. The Japanese language is rich with imagery. For instance, we translate the term mawashi as “round” – mawashi geri: round kick or mawashi uke: round block. In fact, mawashi 回し means “wheel like” – so a proper translation would be kick “like a wheel” or block “like a wheel” suggesting a much richer meaning. Even in the above example, the term uke 受 is translated as “block” when it really means “receive”. In practice, we do not block an attack, we receive it (and redirect it). So mawashi uke is meant to convey an image of receiving or absorbing an attack in a wheel-like motion – very eloquent.
explore the rich language, culture, and traditions of Japan
The same logic applies to a number of Japanese terms. For instance, we translate the term Sensei as teacher. This is technically correct but some beautiful imagery and meaning are lost. The Japanese characters 先 (sen: before) and 生 (sei: to live) actually describe “one who has lived before” suggesting that a sensei is a person who is further along the proverbial path of life and thus has something to share – or to teach – usually in the form of life experience as opposed to academic credentials.
Even the term dojo 道場 is rich with meaning. It is typically translated as “training hall” but it is way more than a simple gym or classroom. In Zen Buddhism, the term do 道 means “way” or “path” as in the way or path to enlightenment. Jo 場 means place so a dojo is a place where one seeks the path to enlightenment – through rigorous training and self-discipline.
The Charles Fink Karate Dojo is more than a club, a school, or a studio – it’s a dojo (道場). We do not limit ourselves to the practice of punches, kicks, blocks, and stances. We also explore the rich language, culture, and traditions of Japan. This way, all students are also exposed to a broader view of the world and have a deeper appreciation for the source of our art. More importantly, we will have a much more fulfilling experience when we train in Japan or when our Japanese masters visit us.