We are fortunate to have a space that we can dedicate to the practice of karatedo – a dojo. But what is referred to as the dojo is, in reality, nothing more than a room. It only becomes a dojo when karateka bow in and treat the space as a dojo. The rest of the time, and to the outsider, it is simply a room. To the karateka, however, the space quickly becomes “sacred” (but not in a religious sense). Although not a place of worship, the dojo should be treated with the same respect and reverence as a sanctuary or other prayer space. I think of it the way I think of my grandmother’s living room: everyone is welcome but you can’t goof off in there (go to the basement for that).
It is important to understand that a dojo is not defined by the four walls but rather by the attitude and behaviour displayed within it. This respect for the space can be assigned to any physical area: a section of the beach, a strip of lawn, a porch, a classroom, or any other location. This way, any place can become a dojo. Conversely, without the proper attitude, behaviour, and respect for the space, even the most beautiful martial arts studio is simply a room – not a dojo.
[like] my grandmother’s living room: everyone is welcome but you can’t goof off in there
When we remove the limits imposed by four walls, a karateka will quickly realize that no matter where they go, they can be in a dojo (of sorts). So, training will no longer be limited to a dedicated space but can take place in everyday life and activities. In short, training can take place anywhere, any time. Training can also take place all the time thus making the whole world and one’s whole life a dojo. Once the karateka realizes that training and life are one and the same, they are well on their way to true karate training.
One who behaves properly in the dojo and misbehaves on the street is a hypocrite. It is a lot like going to church – one is not only a Christian for an hour a week on Sunday morning. A true Christian is not limited by the four walls of the sanctuary. The church is simply a gathering place for like-minded people – same as a dojo.
The Charles Fink Karate Dojo aims to create that special space in which to train. In time, it is our hope that the space will extend beyond the four walls and into all aspects of life.