Our student came directly from school, wearing his camp t-shirt which boldly read “URKA” on the front as well as “Texas Seminar.” I said, “I see you represented the Alliance as well as the Bushukan dojo (in Texas) today. I hope you did so well.” You represent your dojo.
As a karate practitioner you consistently represent your dojo and instructors with your actions. That’s even with no t-shirt labeling you with your affiliated organizations. But a boldly-worded t-shirt let’s anyone who can read know some of the guidance that the wearer has had.
HISTORY STARTED THE “YOU REPRESENT YOUR DOJO” THING
One of the strengths of Japanese culture is the community-mindedness. For centuries, the practice of honoring your family, community, and larger country has been ingrained. A good short read of this as it pertains from samurai bushido to World War II to the present is found in this essay by Takako McCrann, Ph.D.. As it says, “… obligations to family, school, employer, and friends still tend to guide most Japanese behavior.” At our traditional karate school, we like to remind our students (including ourselves – the teachers) that you represent your dojo with what you do in the world.
YOU REPRESENT YOUR DOJO
When a beginning karate student puts on her gi for the first time, this is her clue that she joined a group that is bigger than the individual. A dojo is more powerful than a single practitioner. And much of that power circles back to the individual, supporting them in taking control and improving their own life. What you do with your learned skills shows how you represent your dojo. How you use the knowledge of the Dojo Kun expectations shows how you represent your dojo. Your actions either wear away at or reinforce what your dojo stands for.
I assert that is a good – no – a great thing! It has been for me personally and professionally and in all facets of my life. And I have seen the positive pressure, of honoring one’s dojo, work wonders in the lives of countless other active karate practitioners.
T-SHIRTS DECLARE YOU REPRESENT YOUR DOJO
So if you see someone wearing an East Valley Martial Arts t-shirt, or a URKA t-shirt, can you trust that they have expertise in applying the Dojo Kun? That you are essentially in good hands? In many cases, yes. Most such people are affiliated with us and can promote the Dojo Kun’s power.
But anybody could walk in and buy a t-shirt. And many people have such shirts but have fallen off the proverbial wagon. They no longer ride under the influence of positive dojo pressure. Your best bet is to ask them where they train. Then watch their actions. If you act in integrity with the Dojo Kun principles, then you represent your dojo well.