Dojo 道場


04 Jan


Throughout the CommonSensei curriculum, I constantly reference “Dojo.”

Western society immediately associates the term “dojo” with “Karate Schools,” and rightfully so (martial arts studios are popular dojos), but they are NOT exclusive.

“While 100% of karate schools are dojos, not all dojos are karate schools.” -Bill Viola jr.

You see a dojo is simply a place to find your “way” or do (道). Do is pronounced like cookie “dough. “That “way” can be found in hundreds of art forms (archery, preparing tea, karate etc.). Each art is just a means to an ends. The physical skill associated develops your character along the path. Your 道 is your philosophy, ideology, methodology all wrapped into one. 道 dictates your lifestyle, passion and purpose.

DO (道) means “WAY” and JO (場) means Place. It is pronounced like cookie “dough,” and can reference a school or discipline. A dojo can be anywhere: a building, park, or basement. The term is rooted in Buddhism describing temples where monks for follow the path.

SENSEI SAYS: Chinese call 道 Tao or Dao. also meaning path, or way.

“Welcome to my dojo of life skills.  This blog shares my “,” or Violosophy.” In America we often say life imitates art, in Japan life is art.

Japan, Tokyo Senso-ji, Buddha hands, close-up

FYI: Some famous 道 DO

  • Aikidō (合気道), the way of harmonious spirit
  • Budō (武道) martial way
  • Bushido (武士道 ) way of the warrior
  • Chadō/sadō (茶道) the way of tea
  • Gendai budō (現代武道), modern warrior way, the group of martial disciplines that arose after the Meiji restoration
  • Hapkido (합기도; 合氣道), the way of the harmonious spirit
  • Iaidō (居合道), a Japanese martial art associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword
  • Jōdō (杖ō), the Way of the jō, wooden staff fighting
  • Jūdō (柔道), the “gentle way”, a grappling martial art
  • Jūkendō (銃剣), the way of the bayonet, bayonet fighting
  • Kadō (華道) the way of flower
  • Karatedō or karate (空手道), the Way of the empty hand, Okinawan boxing
  • Kendō (剣道), the Way of the sword, fencing with bamboo swords
  • Kumdo (劍道) Korean kendō
  • Kyūdō, (弓道), the Way of the bow, archery, Hand-to-hand fighting recently evolved from karate
  • Kobudo (古武道) old martial way
  • Jeet Kune Do (截拳道) the way of the intercepting fist
  • Okinawan Kobudō (沖縄古武道) old martial way of Okinawa
  • Sadō, chadō (茶道) the way of tea, Japanese Tea ceremony
  • Shodo (書道) the way of calligrapy
  • Tang soo dō (唐手道) the way of Tang hand (Chinese dynasty hand)
  • Taekwondō (태권도; 跆拳道), the Way of the foot and the fist
  • Taidō (躰道), the Way of the body, Hand-to-hand fighting evolved from Okinawan karate
  • Yado (弓道) way of the bow
  • Yoseikan Budō (養正館武道), the teaching truth place warrior Way

The truth is, anything can be a dō 道 or way. Take sojido (掃除道) for instance. It is the way of cleaning up. Soji is simply cleaning, but is sort of a custom in Japan.

In fact, the Japanese take great pride in cleaning up in general. The students clean up their own schools, and the workforce cleans their own office. The idea of respecting their environment is entgrained. o-soji is a “great cleaning” cultivates a sense of pride in your dojo. It maintains humbleness and modesty. Japanese students each have their own zokin (washrag) many times had stitched. The value of cleanliness is held high. The Japanese proverb “work of self, obtainment of self”, reminds us that your work is your own reward.

Recommended reading: Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi. FYI: the kanji (道) “way” is also part of the Japanese word for “principle” or “morality” dotoku 道徳. It is a fundamental philosophy of a person.


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Bill Viola Jr.

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