Dojo Etiquette Part 2

October 4th, 2011

Several months ago we put an article in the newsletter about Dojo Etiquette.  We talked about the importance of etiquette and tradition in the martial arts and also some of the basic rules of the Dojo.  This month I’d like to elaborate on more etiquette and just some good tips on keeping our Dojo safe and clean.

            Notice I said “our” Dojo.  It’s important in the martial arts to think of the training space as belonging to all of the instructors, students and family members.  It belongs to all of us and not just the Sensei or staff.  Sure, we pay the bills and the janitors clean the facility.  But, if every student and visitor really treat the Dojo as their own, then we will all benefit because we will have a clean and respectable training space.  We are very lucky to have such a large and professional Dojo.  I’ve been to many other martial arts schools and few are as nice as ours.  So we should take great pride in our school and try our best to keep it clean.

            The first bit of etiquette I’d like to go over is related to in class behavior. These things aren’t necessarily common sense to most people who haven’t trained before.  When students are late to class they should wait at the back of the room on top of the large black doormat in a ready stance.  They can enter class when an instructor excuses them in.  For every class, students who are here on time and waiting should be quiet and respectful of the class currently on the floor.  During class if a student needs to get a drink of water or use the bathroom they must ask an instructor first.  This is being respectful of course, but its also a safety issue because our staff wants to know where a student is if they leave the mat.  We might think they are injured or sick if they leave without letting us know first.  Students should not sit on the bench unless they are sick, injured or they were told to by an instructor.

            We would like all students and visitors to please not take out or use pads and equipment before or after class unless given permission by an instructor.  This is for safety, but also shows respect for the Dojo and others.  Students and guests cannot use the upstairs training floor unless with a staff member.  This is obviously because of safety and liability.  We also need the upstairs floor often during classes either for splitting up the class or for scheduled private lessons.

            Last, but certainly not least.  We would like to please ask the parents and family of our students to help us keep the stairways and lobby clear for people to walk through safely.  We encourage our youth students to quietly do their homework in the lobby or color or read a book.  But it’s unsafe for them to block the stairway while doing so.  Sometimes they just need a reminder of where to sit.  In addition to that, Sensei and Susie would sure appreciate students and guests to not block the walkway to the office.  That will show consideration and respect for your fellow students and family that need help in the office.

            We have plans to remodel the retail area in front of the office. This will provide more space for people to sit and kids to do homework or color.  It will also give us more room to nicely display weapons and t-shirts. 

            The staff greatly appreciates the understanding and help of our students and families in helping us keep up such a wonderfully nice Dojo


August 8th, 2011

At the core of most major success stories, whether it be in the martial arts, sports, business, or any other field of expertise, is one thing: perseverance. O’Sensei always taught us the lesson of, “Patience.” In the martial arts patience does not mean to simply be patient and wait for things to happen or to change. Patience means to persevere and to have an indomitable spirit, a spirit that cannot be broken. In other words, “Never give up!”

Perseverance is defined as: “Persisting in or remaining constant to a purpose, idea or task in spite of obstacles, when such persistence is congruent with higher values.”

Eleanor Roosevelt told us, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And Henry Ford left this piece of advise, “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

One of my friends, the sensei at a wonderful dojo, tells his students, “Quitting is not an option.” He tells them this because he knows, as I do, that as a martial artist we must not stay in our comfort zone, choosing short-term relief and comfort in order to avoid the temporary discomfort of working hard and having to persist through the tough times when we might feel like quitting or giving up.

I am sure that most, if not all, highly successful people have experienced failure along their path to great success. The difference is that they see failure as an opportunity to grow and learn, rather than a reason to give up. Somehow they knew this basic truth, “Failure cannot cope with perseverance.”

One of the greatest spear masters of all time, Hozoin Inye, left us the lesson of, “Ichi-nen.” Singleness of purpose. He taught that we must set our self a goal, and we must keep focused on that goal. He taught that we are likely to experience setbacks and challenges along the way, even failures. And he told us when we experience these we must not give up, we must not “Build a case against our self,” but rather, we should persevere and continue on towards our goal. Through an unshakeable desire to succeed, perseverance takes hold and failures you have faced become mere stepping-stones on the path to your success.

In order to become successful, you must have a strong desire, which is the fuel that feeds the fire of achievement. You must have a plan of action, steps that will take you to your ultimate destination. Then to bind these together, and to ensure a recipe for success, patience, perseverance and your indomitable spirit will play the leading role in your success, because failure cannot cope with perseverance and the person who will never give up.

Life is a doing game. Doing wins. Knowing but not doing always loses. O’Sensei would tell us that, “To know and to act are one and the same.” Or as Benjamin Franklin told us, “The man who does things makes mistakes, but he doesn’t make the biggest mistake of all, doing nothing!”

So let me suggest these four short words that I believe sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd, “A little bit more.” They did all that was expected of them and, “A little bit more.”

Success in any endeavor demands more from an individual than most people are willing to offer, not more than they are capable of offering, just more than they are willing to offer. Another way of putting this is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.

Desire and planning is not enough. Don’t allow yourself to mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by simply being busy. The question is, “Busy doing what?” Here again I can hear the lessons of O’Sensei; He would say that doing is very important, but your doing must be what he called, “Right action.” That is why it is so important to have a plan, write down the steps you will take to reach your goal, and then have the singleness of purpose that Inye spoke of. The laser-sharp focus on your goal, the willingness to persevere, and that spirit that develops in you that, “Yes I can attitude. I will never give!”

We all have an opportunity to succeed, and if we grasp the concept that all we need is a strong desire, a plan of action, and a never-ending supply of patience, perseverance and that spirit that can never be broken we can become successful and achieve those things in life that will bring us true joy and happiness. Those things that so many people only dream of. Without perseverance defeat will get you before you’ve even started. With perseverance, you will emerge the ultimate winner.

Perseverance is one of the many great lessons that you will learn on your path to black belt. Never forget it.