What is a Dojo?
Dojo is the term used in Japanese Budo (Martial Arts) in reference to the formal venue for training, examinations and other related events. Dojo [dōjō (道場)] literally means "place of the Way". Your dojo should be considered your personal sacred place in which to work out and train. Its positive atmosphere is created from the beginning of class during the dojo reishiki. Karatedo is but a part of your education received in the dojo. In the dojo you will learn the principles of many other styles, so much that many times when speaking to Martial Artists of other schools you may know more of their history and forms similar to and of their style than they do.
You will learn basics (kihon), self defense, how to respect yourself and others, how to earn your peers’ friendship, your own internal balance, physical techniques and levels of stamina one might have never thought possible of oneself, and principles by which to live your life. Keep in mind that defense, fighting, and pushing yourself physically is only the beginning of Karatedo.We must not enter the dojo with malice or antagonism, because this can lead to dangerous accidents or even death. When we are in the dojo, we must feel purposeful and alert. In response to corrections, students (deshi) should say "Hai" aloud. This indicates that the student understands and will take note. This is important as the intensity of the training may make a student miss an important point or command during an exercise. The loud response of "Hai" lets the instructor know that the student has heard and understood the instruction.
Some Dojo use the word "Osu" as a greeting or affirmation, but this is sometimes considered rude and Goju-Ryu dojos do not use this term loosely.
During class the student should move quickly on the commands and in lining up so that no time is wasted. Students should try to maintain lines when moving with techniques, as this enables the instructor to see better and make corrections. Also, students should try to maintain the same timing and rhythm of the class. This will aid the student in learning correct emphasis and speed of techniques. Senior students are placed at the front of the class to provide examples for the other students. Students should not leave the dojo floor without getting the instructor's permission. This is both for reasons of courtesy to the instructor and fellow students and safety.
The hombu dojo of a style is considered the administrative headquarters of a particular style of martial art. Some well-known hombu dojo located in Japan are usually a proper Japanese-style martial arts dojo and is considered special and is well cared for by its users. In many styles it is traditional to conduct a ritual cleaning of the dojo at the end of each training session (called sojii). Besides the obvious hygenic benefits of regular cleaning it also serves to reinforce the fact that dojo are supposed to be supported and managed by the student body, not the school's instructional staff. This attitude has become lost in many modern, commercial dojo that are founded and run by a small group of people or instructors.
Many traditional dojo follow a prescribed pattern with “shomen” and various entrances that are used based on student and instructor rank layed out precisely. Typically students will enter in the lower-left corner of the dojo (in reference to the shomen) with instructors in the upper right corner. Shomen typically contains “kamiza” - an area for a shinto shrine and other artifacts. Many other artifacts may be displayed throughout the dojo, such as “kanban” that authorize the school in a style or strategy, and items such as taiko drums or armor (yoroi).
It is not uncommon to find the name of the dojo and the dojo kun (roughly "dojo rules") displayed promiently at shomen as well.