What is a Dojo? Dojo literally means, "way place." It is a place for finding enlightenment about ourselves and the world around us. A true martial arts dojo is a place that is specifically designed for the purpose of mental and physical training. It has very few creature comforts or expensive equipment. It is a unique place; for some, a spiritual place. It is one of the only places in the world today where a person can go to mitigate his ego.
What is the difference between this and other martial arts studios? Our school allows each student to reach his or her full potential in a non-competitive, non-commercial environment. Our system is effective and relevant because we focus on the basics and biomechanical principles that include close-quarter combat situations. We incorporate strikes, kicks, boxing, grappling, strangulation and other arts.
What are classes like? We begin each class with stretching and warm up exercises followed by falling and rolling practice. We move on to basic footwork, punching and kicking drills and similar exercises. Wooden swords and quarter staffs are important in the development of an individual's center of gravity, so we train with them on a regular basis. We then move on to specific techniques involving joint locks, strangulation, evasion and throwing or take-downs. Grappling is an essential part of training and we incorporate ground work into most classes. All beginners must learn basic rolling, falling and striking skills before moving onto advanced techniques.
How long does it take to earn a black belt? A better question is, "What is a black belt?" A black belt (shodan) means you have trained long enough to understand basic principles and techniques. It takes the average person with no formal background about three or more years with consistent attendance (two-three times a week) to earn a black belt. Unfortunately, most people quit before they attain a black belt here. There are quite a few "black belt" factories out there. If you are only interested in rank, there are a lot of other places for you to go.
Why are you not affiliated with other organizations? The head instructor is responsible for ensuring all students demonstrate the necessary proficiency to attain rank. Organizations can tend to be political and costly. Long before there were national and international organizations, there were small dojos that taught their own arts. Being a part of a large organization does not make you a better martial artist.
How do I know you are legitimate? We are confident in the arts we teach. You will have a very good idea of who we are and what we are about after one class. Legitimacy has nothing to do with a piece of paper, trophies or belts.
Why do you wear uniforms? We ask all students to purchase a judo or sturdy karate uniform. Martial arts uniforms serve several basic purposes. First, uniforms and certain Asian cultural practices help people get into the proper mindset for training. Second, it allows us to grab each other without fear of tearing flimsy t-shirts or shorts. Finally, uniforms soak up a lot of sweat and dirt which allows us to keep the training environment clean.
Why do you incorporate a ranking system? Prior to the introduction of Japanese Budo to the public in the early 1900s, martial art schools did not have a ranking system. Instead, they utilized a licensing system known as menkyo, though few students ever received a license to teach or represent a given system. In modern martial arts, the ability to earn rank is an important motivator for most people. It symbolizes milestones in training and serves to separate beginners from advanced students allowing for an effective and enjoyable training experience. However, rank can also lead to bloated egos and politics. For this reason, the highest rank offered in this dojo is go dan, or fifth degree black belt.
Why is the school located in the instructor's home? Renting commercial space is very expensive and that cost becomes a part of a student's tuition. When a martial arts teacher opens a commercial school, he is forced to "water-down" techniques in order to have as many students as possible. It has to be run like a business. We prefer to train with a few dedicated people who are willing to train hard and consistently in order to better themselves and help others in that same process. Long before big, commercial schools, dojos were often located on or near the instructor's home. It's the best way to train.
How much does it cost? Class fees are very reasonable and are discussed during your initial interview with the instructor.
What Is Expected Of Me? Ours is a complex martial art system that requires intense and committed training in order to become proficient. We expect any serious student to train at the dojo a minimum of two times a week. We will work with your schedule, but you have to meet us half way. Furthermore, you must commit to a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise and training outside the dojo and minimizing use of alcohol. Lastly, we will not permit any illegal drug use.