The Dojo in your heart and mind
The word dōjō is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word dàochǎng (道場). Meaning the hall of the way or more exact, a place of study or practice. Originally, a dojo was a place where scholar could study or where Daoist or Buddhist monks practiced. In the latter sense, it does not necessarily need to be a temple, but just room used by one or by others. So the dàochǎng in the religious sense is still in use.
The term dojo became well known when Japanese martial arts such as Karate and Judo became more popular in the West. So the term stuck and is now used to refer to all martial arts schools. If you have studied in Korean martial arts Taekwondo or Hapkido, the same word is pronounced dojang (도장).
The term dàochǎng isn't as commonly used in Chinese martial arts as it is with Japanese and Korean counterparts. It's more common to see the word guǎn (館), which means hall. It is common it spelt as Kwoon, which is the Cantonese pronunciation. This version became more common due to the kung Fu films which came to the West.
So a martial school is called a gōngfu guǎn (功夫館) or wuguǎn(武館). Although some Wing Chun schools like to use the name Wing Chun Tong (永春堂). The word Tong also means hall.
The Dojo in your heart and mind
Not every school or instructor has a place they call their home. It would certainly be nice if we did. Many instructors including myself travel to different locations to teach. In Asian cultures, we honour the place we train. It's our home and represents who we are as a school. Just like your shifu is your martial father (or mother), the school is your second home. We keep it clean and be considerate towards others. Traditionally, schools don't employ cleaners and students help by cleaning up. Consideration is all part of martial and community spirit. We hope students learn this as part of their training and practice this behaviour outside the school. As martial artists, we ought to exercise the same values and behaviours everywhere we go. Whether we're at home, in the shops or the park, respect and honouring the where you are matters. These values and behaviours proves that your training doesn't lie.
McDojo's & Burger Kwoon
The terms McDojo's and Burger Kwoon is often used in martial arts circle. The words, play on certain fast food brands and pokes fun at martial arts schools that water down the substance of the art and make it easy for students to get their grading. Martial arts has traditionally been about hard work and over a long period of time. Skill and abilities do actually take time to develop and mature. That's why it's called gongfu* and that's why your training doesn't lie.
Thank you for reading my blog.
* Gongfu means a learned skill
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