09/21/2012: "The dojo as family"
Over the years, a number of people have told us - spontaneously and unsolicited - that our dojo is very much a family. Why? Because of the atmosphere and camaraderie that we have had and encouraged for the last 22 years, among both adults and children, and the respect with which all the dojo members treat each other.
Despite the widely varying backgrounds of our adult students, what all of them have in common is a curiosity and willingness to explore, a thirst for knowledge, the willingness to work with each other in learning and exploring, and support for their classmates, regardless of rank, as everyone learns and advances. That last takes place in every class, but is probably most obvious during the six weeks of intense preps that precede a black belt test.
And it's not just the adults - much of the above also applies to the children as well (curiosity? oh, yeah!), and parents have repeatedly commented that the way our dojo operates is precisely the atmosphere in which they wish their children to learn and grow. One father said: "You are amazing with [our son], your guidance coupled with his home life is what we wanted in rearing our family. We are excited for [our other children] to join the dojo too."
We try to live up to this in every class, and intend to continue it for many years to come.
With the adults, part of the closeness that develops also has to do with the fact that you develop a deeper, physical level of trust with people who are putting you at some risk of injury each time you train, due to the throws, joint manipulations and locks etc. (We *always* stress safety in our training, and injuries of any kind are rare.)
Both adults and children also learn not only how to train safely, but how to deal with the physical limitations and conditions that some of our students have, learning how to explain techniques so that the other student understands, and seeing that someone with limitations can learn the techniques just as they do. Empathy and compassion.
As with all families, it's not all sunshine and roses, but our dojo family tends to be one of the happier ones.