One of the biggest issues facing any martial arts club is when the club as a whole focus more on the bowing and ceremony and less on putting in the honest effort to break a sweat. Unfortunately, this is a trend I’ve seen all too often in some karate clubs, and although it provides the illusion of a nice, fancy martial arts studio, it actually provides nothing beneficial to the students. Or the instructors.
Picture this: The entire class is standing at the back of the dojo. the head instructor provides instructions on a specific set of techniques that he wants the students to practice while moving up the length of the dojo. The head instructor bows to everyone, and everyone bows back. The students perform their respective versions of the demonstrated technique and make their way to the very front of the dojo where they end their techniques and bow to the front. Then they run to the back, bowing to senior belts as they pass them. Some of them no doubt develop hip dysplasia from all the bowing they do. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t doing the technique properly; the importance is placed on ceremony and protocol of the class.
Now, I’m going to be very clear about one thing right now: proper respect and dojo etiquette are VERY important to me. There’s nothing worse than someone who can’t maintain discipline within a karate dojo and shows no respect to those who have been where they are. But you HAVE to be able to work on the learning at the same time! While it may look nice to have a clean, pressed karate gi, and bow at every opportunity, you’re essentially wasting your time and the time of your instructors if you don’t commit to what you’re trying to learn and break a damn sweat!
Some martial arts clubs focus on the “club” and neglect the “martial arts”. That’s all well and good if all you happen to be looking for is a place to congregate and socialize with like-minded people. But while you’re busy exchanging Instagram user names, don’t forget that you’re actually there to learn a skill set that’s centuries and even thousands (depending on your style) of years old. Show it the respect it deserves or go join a knitting circle. ☯