Sometimes, you gotta have faith… Ah, that song brings me back. released in the late 80’s, it used to come on the radio in the mornings when I’d be on my way to school. Gets my foot tapping, even now. But I haven’t even gotten into today’s topic and I’m already slipping off the rails, so I’m going to rein myself in. As I said in the opener, sometimes, you gotta have faith. This is especially true when. You make the conscious decision to join a dojo or a sports club.
In general, people who walk into a dojo for the first time are likely to be inexperienced and unaware of the art they’re choosing to undertake. This makes it so very important that one be able to trust and have faith in what they’re being taught and who is teaching it. I remember when i first walked into a dojo, all the way back when I was a kid… Ironically not long after George Michael’s “Faith” was released, I had a head full of karate movie scenes and high expectations. I never could have imagined the journey I was about to embark on, or how it would ultimately change my life.
But imagine how that journey would have been different if I didn’t trust Sensei and the other senior students? Imagine if I questioned and doubted everything I was being shown and taught? I’d say it’s hard to fill a cup that’s already full but the joke is that if you’re walking into a dojo for the first time, your cup should be fuckin’ empty. Unless you’re one of these black belts who move to a different Province and end up having to train with a different style… *cough, cough* Moving on!
That trust and ability to have faith in the teachings you receive is a two-way door. You need to trust the people teaching you but they also have to be able to trust your. The dojo will only be as traditional and strong as its weakest student but it’s everybody’s responsibility to raise that weakest student up in order to ensure the strength and effectiveness of the curriculum and the reputation of the style. I recently had an associate who told me about a dojo he trained in, where he was put through hell for years on end to reach black belt.
Although he’s found himself moving on from there due to other obligations and responsibilities, he’s occasionally visited and has been disheartened by how the curriculum has weakened and become watered down to accommodate those who prefer not to get hurt or don’t want to put in as much effort. This is a sad and dangerous path for a dojo to follow. Not only will it dilute the style and make it less effective, those who grow in rank will be nowhere near as effective and skilled as their rank suggests and could put them in danger, should they ever be in a situation where they need to defend themselves.
Sensei saw this trend start to take shape about six or seven years ago, which ultimately led to him closing his dojo doors permanently. As sad as I am about that, I’m comforted in the fact that I trained hard, learned well and have confidence in my skills, which have been time-tested and proven. I rather that than have my beloved school turned into a cookie-cutter producer of people who don’t put their full effort into it or train the right way for the right reasons.
It’s important to trust in your dojo. If you have doubts or question what’s being taught, maybe that means that the school isn’t for you and you should likely move on. This doesn’t mean you should never question ANYTHING. But how can a dojo be strong if its students don’t trust each other, raise each other up and you don’t believe in what the sensei is teaching? Not only does this make it hard on you but on the dojo as a whole, as well. Always remember that choosing a style or a school to train with is a subjective thing. There’s nothing wrong with a school being wrong for you and moving on. Food for thought… ☯️