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5 Space Options for Running a Dojo | Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu

5 Space Options for Running a Dojo

If you’re thinking about starting your own dojo or running your own martial arts classes, the first thing you need to look for is a space in which to run them. There are a number of different options, all with their own pros and cons. I’ve run classes in 6 different locations over my tenure, so I can help you understand your options.

1. Basement/Garage

Pro:

  • Low overhead.
  • Very convenient.
  • Complete control over use of the space.

Con:

  • Space is limited.
  • You have to purchase your own mats and equipment.
  • You have to bring relative strangers into your home.
  • Encroaches your own living space.

2. Community Centre/University

Pro:

  • Free publicity for your class through their network.
  • Little to no start-up costs if mats are not required or already provided.

Con:

  • Some pay you by the hour, limiting your profit potential.
  • Highly competitive. Can be difficult to get in.
  • Lack of control over your space. May not be able to come early or stay late if desired.

3. Martial Arts, Yoga or other Studio Rental

Pro:

  • More control over use of the space.
  • May not have to buy mats or equipment if already available (martial arts studio).
  • More potential for growth.

Con:

  • Lack of control over your space. May not be able to come early or stay late if desired.
  • If the business goes under, you’re stuck without a place to train.
  • May have to set up your mats and put them away before and after each class.

4. Industrial Space

Pro:

  • Complete control over use of the space.
  • Tends to have more space.
  • Lots of room for growth.

Con:

  • Higher overhead costs.
  • Higher risks for financial loss.
  • You have to purchase your own mats and equipment.
  • Little to no walk-in traffic. Can be hard to find location.
  • May have to deal with noise from neighbours.

4. Retail Space

Pro:

  • Complete control over use of the space.
  • More room for growth (depending on space).
  • More exposure and walk-in traffic.

Con:

  • Highest overhead costs.
  • Higher risks for financial loss.
  • You have to purchase your own mats and equipment.
  • Less privacy. People may walk in during classes or stare from windows.

When I started running my own classes outside my original dojo, the first place I taught was in a community centre in Japan. It was highly convenient and very appropriate for the transitory nature of my life there. We sometimes had to share the space with other people, but it was such a huge space that it didn’t really matter.

After I moved to Vancouver, I was fortunate enough to hook up with a Judo dojo that was being run out of an industrial space. The owner was very helpful in getting me started. Unfortunately, he left the country and the dojo closed down leaving me without a space. I did, however, get the mats which came in handy.

For about a month, I taught out of a garage in one of my students’ home. We had 8 mats. It was only enough space for 2 pairs to train, and even then it felt pretty confined. It was tight, but at least we kept it going.

After that, we settled into a yoga/pilates studio. It was very affordable, but limited in space. Plus, we had to set up and tear down the mats after each class.

About 8 months later, I moved into an MMA/boxing gym where I rented the space. We didn’t need our mats (they already had some) so we just stored them under the boxing ring. The lack of privacy was sometimes frustrating though because people sometimes walked through our mat space as they finished class in the other room. They also didn’t always take off their shoes (The horror, the horror…).

While at that gym however, I managed to meet Louis Sargeant, with whom I got along swimmingly. We eventually got together on a lease for an industrial space that had two separate areas on two separate floors for training. I took the upstairs office (room enough for 28 mats) and he took the warehouse. This is my best space yet and we’re still doing quite well. Here’s a pic of my dojo below.

One day, I would like to somehow, some way, buy land and build my own Japanese-style dojo. My vision is to plan a building specifically around my needs, big enough to have a 64-mat training area, men’s and women’s changerooms with showers, a small office for myself, a lounge/viewing area from which the training space can be seen, and a beautiful Zen garden that can be seen from the training area. It’s a beautiful dream that I will realize if the right circumstances allow me to make it happen.

I’d love to hear what kinds of spaces you all train in and their unique advantages and disadvantages.

Comments (24)

24 thoughts on “5 Space Options for Running a Dojo

  1. My old sensei rented the gym area from the local primary school three evenings a week (2 adult and 2 kids classes): it was quite roomy and I don’t think it cost all that much since fees were fairly low (at least in the beginning). The only downside was that you had to put up the mats yourself and there were always people who came in late or left early to avoid this. The upside was that the school didn’t care if we trained extra (on Saturdays for example) as long as we kept the place clean and locked up when we left. When my current teacher started he rented rooms from communal centers: this was quite expensive and there was a lot of competition, this combined with the lack of interest (oftentimes we were the only people there) caused him to abandon his plans since he was constantly losing money. His luck turned when he brokered a deal with the owner of the martial arts centre (it’s located in an industrial area) where he trained: he could get a slot Friday evening and he didn’t have to start paying rent until he got 10 students. The room we train in is very spacey and clean, it’s fully matted, there are about 8 heavy bags, we can use all the equipment (soft sticks, helmets, thai pads, focus mitts…) and the owner graciously allows us to train among ourselves as long as there are no formal classes (there are two large rooms or dojo’s so there’s almost always free space). Now my sensei teaches a few classes a week (JKD & kali), in rotation with other higher level students (the head teacher left about a year ago) and I don’t know if and how much he’s getting payed for that but still: we have a great space, he doesn’t have to worry too much about going broke, he’s fully independent when it comes to the curriculum in his own dojo…

    This is a very sweet deal and both parties stand to gain: my sensei got what he wanted (his own dojo, he’s not very concerned about profit) and the owner has another martial art to offer in his program (we focus on self defense, most of the other arts taught there are sports orientated or otherwise not too suited for legal SD), the students that take a full subscription at the gym (quite pricey) don’t have to pay extra for our classes, the others pay about as much as our old dojo charged. Right now we have about 12 students (myself included) and we expect this number to rise slowly but steadily. Most other martial arts clubs or dojo’s train at least two times a week, to attract more students we’re planning on rostering an extra training session (at least partially led by me) and we’re thinking about organizing women’s self defense classes periodically since we had a number of requests from women who only wanted to train for a short time in preparation for a trip to a foreign country or to acquire basic self defense skills. For this we have to design a new curriculum and we’ll have to see how we’ll charge, when at least one of us has the time… but in general it seems like a good idea. In any case: if I’m going to be teaching on a regular basis I’m going to ask him to at least give me a serious discount on my subscription fee, I don’t know if I should be asking for more (a friend suggested I should ask for a share of the profit since without me the extra class is unlikely to happen) but I don’t know. My sensei’s my friend, he does take time out of schedule to train one on one with me and I don’t want to take advantage of him.

    What do you think is fair in this context? How do you guys do it? If you don’t want to make this information public knowledge you may always mail me, you have my address.

    Regards,

    Zara

  2. My philosophy has always been that if you hold a black belt and you're running classes at the dojo that wouldn't otherwise run without you there, you should get your training for free or be paid a stipend for your time.

    If you're a brown belt apprenticing during classes, you still pay regular fees as it's considered part of your training to help with instruction, but then for apprenticeship purposes, the instructor would be there with you on the mats.

    That's my policy on that, but it's different everywhere. I used to run my own class and pay for training at my Sensei's dojo. Meh. I think it kind of depends on the financial situation of the dojo.

  3. I agree you shouldn't get paid just for assisting classes, I do learn a lot from it and I don't mind at all. However, being in charge of the class all by yourself and having to deliver every week is another matter entirely and at the very least my training shouldn't cost me anything. I'm not planning on making it professionally in the MA (this is almost impossible here except for owners of large gyms or maybe headmasters in their own style) but I'm not exactly swimming in dough so something extra couldn't hurt. As soon as I make first Dan I'll ask him what he thinks, I don't know how well we're doing financially, I suppose that depends on how much he's paying the owner. I just want to be treated fairly: teaching is a serious responsibility, an extra class should raise the number of students (generating more income) and I would be giving up one evening a week which I could use for something else (visiting friends, relaxing at home, extra training). In any case the experience would be invaluable in case I ever decide to start up my own dojo.

    From september on I should have more time in the evenings so I'm looking into possibilities for extra training: either I could find another JJ school to learn from another sensei and to diversify my technical range (which would also be helpful when I'm teaching since I can offer the students something different once in a while) or I could take classes in entirely different arts like kickboxing and kali. A lot will depend on how many evenings I'm free and how much it'd cost me (the JJ option would probably be less) but in general what would you think is the best option? Diversify or specialize further?

    Regards,

    Zara

  4. I would stick to one type of Jiu-jitsu, but learn something that would complement it. I think the Kali or the kickboxing is probably the way to go from the sounds of it.

  5. Thanks for the overview of the pros and cons. I've always suspected the more control you have and the nicer the area is, the more costly it becomes.

    I've training in backyards, a dingy basement with a low ceiling, a local sport rec center, a church and various community centers. I've even trained in a barn.

    I have fond memories of one of the first dojos I trained in getting flooded out several times. We'd come in on a weekend day, pull all the mats, dry them and tape them back down. I've also trained in a state of the art facility. Each space had it's own charm.

    Running a dojo is a challenged endeavor. My hat's off to you.

    As for Anonymous – my personal feelings of the student-Sensei relationship is that I could never accept money for teaching if I was teaching under him/her. If the class is completely separate from your teacher's classes, then I think yes, you could charge. If however, you are still training under your Sensei or providing training in his/her style, I would be hesitant.

    That's just my opinion, of course.

    As for diversifying your skills, I agree with Lori, I would stick to one style of Jiu Jitsu but learn something complimentary to add to it. From my experience, Kali and Escrima are a good match, even boxing can add to your arsenal.

    Teaching is an interesting and rewarding experience. And a big responsibility. Best of luck.

  6. @Journeyman: it’s easy to have high minded principles when you have a good, paying job which I don’t right now since I’m still studying. A teacher who charges students a certain fee (so not pro bono) makes money of them, granted not usually that much unless he runs a mcdojo. If he can make more money by offering an extra class (which usually means higher fees for the students and hopefully more of them) and this is due to the fact he found a second teacher it’s only right he shares some of the profit, otherwise teacher B would basically be working for him without any apparent benefit. Transplanted to my situation: I lend my sensei assistance in class and I don’t mind covering for him when he’s ill or otherwise unavailable, however if I’m expected to regularly put in the effort of preparing classes and taking the responsibility of running them there should be some means of compensation. I’ll probably settle for free training, this would still be to his advantage since he’ll likely make a lot more than what he’s losing from my yearly fee (if I bring in at least one extra student or the fees are raised for the other ones he’d already break even compared to before). There are a lot of teachers out there who make their advanced students teach classes for free (without supervision or educational goals) and without giving them anything in return: this is taking advantage of people’s good will and respect towards you (the least you could do is show some respect in return) and these masters are basically using their students to get rich while sitting on their asses. My sensei used to teach a children’s judo class under our old dojo, together with another black belt. The agreement was that they got half of the profit, the other half went to the headmaster. This in my view is a fair deal since both parties gained from it.

    If I’m going to be teaching for free I’d rather direct my efforts to those in need (abused women in shelters for example) than enrich someone who’s already better off financially than me. This doesn’t mean I don’t respect my sensei (much to the contrary), but my martial arts education costs me too and the money has to come from somewhere. If the dojo was just breaking even or losing money that would be another matter entirely but as it stands now that’s not the case so I’m not going to be taken advantage off like Lori when she just started. I’m sure my teacher will understand and if he doesn’t he can start looking for someone else or do it himself. In that case I’d rather train somewhere else or get a part-time job. I do enjoy teaching and it is rewarding to see people improve thanks to your efforts (sometimes I even feel I’m giving them too much information, much more than I was given when I was their level) but it’s also a big responsibility and quite exhausting too. Hell, I’m still a student myself (albeit an advanced one) so maybe I should be concentrating more on my own training and improvement than on lending others a hand while my own skills stagnate.

    As to my options for extra training: I do see the logic in the advice but much will depend on time and money. The fees for kali are quite high and if I can’t train at least three evenings a week it’s just not worth it, JJ costs a lot less and if I have only one evening off I’d probably pick that option. I’ve been doing some research online and as it turns out there’s a krav maga school not that far from here: I think krav maga would complement my skills nicely and if they don’t charge an arm and a leg (which they probably will, it’s quite popular these days) I might go for that. We’ll see, I still have some time to decide since classes only start in September.

    Thanks for the advice,

    Zara

    PS: the place we’re training at now really is top notch. Two rooms, lots of space, laid out mats that don’t need to be removed afterwards (a big hassle), plenty of equipment, clean changing rooms with showers… What more can you ask for?

  7. For the record, I wasn't implying that I was being taken advantage of when I first started teaching. The dojo wasn't financially very strong (at least not for the huge space we had the luxury of enjoying). And the fees weren't crazy high either. It wasn't anything I couldn't afford.

  8. Of course it all depends on the actual profit being made (if your dojo would barely break even it wouldn't be reasonable to charge for teaching), something I alluded to in my reply but I think you'll agree with me when I say it's wrong not to acknowledge other people's efforts and making money off them without offering them something in return.

    Zara

  9. Zara,

    Time and money are always challenges. Paying for training can be tough, especially where there's no money to be found. Don't think I don't appreciate the difficulties. There was a time in my life when I had no money and told my first Sensei I could no longer attend classes because I couldn't afford it. He wouldn't let me quit. He just told me not to worry about it and when things were better, I could start paying again. And this was not a commercial dojo that made money. Any extras came right out of his pocket. I never forgot what he did for me and after a meandering bunch of years, I am training under him once again.

    I am lucky to have found what I did and the teacher I did and this is why I made the comments I did.

    Your arguments for accepting money or consideration seem to be thought out. If you are actively bringing in money and students that otherwise wouldn't have come in and you are doing all the teaching and your teacher is not involved in any part of it and your teacher is the only one profiting from it, then perhaps some form of consideration might be appropriate.

    I've always felt teaching someone else improves your own skill. Sadly, there are those out there who take advantage of students for their own gain.

    Best of luck.

    Lori, I have a similar down the road vision of a dream dojo on my own land. I often think how great it would be. Winning the lottery would help. Thanks for the imagery.

  10. Journeyman, I buy my weekly lottery ticket and hope. You never know where opportunities will come from, but if you have no plan for greatness, how would you know an opportunity for looked you right in the face? I actually sketched out a rough floor plan of what my dojo would be like. One day… I wish you all the best in achieving your dream dojo! 🙂

  11. I too would like to one day operate my own dojo, not for the sake of profit but for my own satisfaction and to give others the same chance to learn traditional martial arts & effective self defense as I did. I don’t really care where or how: as long as I can afford it, there’s enough space and it’s accessible I would be fine with it. Of course I’m younger than both of you but for me owning an apartment or small house would be more important than anything else since it offers safety and financial stability in the long run, other than that I don’t care much about material things and as long as I can realize certain projects I’d be perfectly happy. To me time spent alone, with friends or in training is far more important than work, even if it means earning less each month. Money should never be a goal in itself but only a means to freedom and realization of projects. To live happily one doesn’t need a lot of money, as long as you can limit your desires to simple, easy to attain things & what is truly worthwhile in life is usually not material in nature. I call him rich who has few desires and is content with what he has and is, not someone who has a lot of money since the latter will always want more and more and he’ll never be happy as a result, not to mention the fact that great fortunes are usually the result of illegal or semi-legal activities. Schopenhauer likened money to drinking sea water: the more you drink the thirstier you get. Nietzsche had this to say about riches and I wholeheartedly agree with him: ‘he who owns little is the less possessed, blessed be the little poverty!’ Rich people are nearly always narrow minded, resentful, morally corrupt or incredibly egocentric… Yet somehow they are deemed worthy of the greatest respect in society these days, go figure. Says a lot about society, doesn’t it?

    Journeyman: I understand where you’re coming from and I’m impressed by the selflesness of your sensei, obviously he’s a man of high stature and one worthy of emulation & respect. People who helped you in times of need should never be forgotten and you should always be there for them when they need it. Loyalty is something I attach great importance to, especially since you meet so few people who are worthy of respect and loyalty. Life has a tendency to debase everything (justice, morality, wisdom… all have to make way for selfishness, greed and jealousy) and I’ve met quite a few people whom I thought I could trust and who were nearer to my heart than my own family yet when the shit hit the fan they split and nothing remained but hollow excuses and cowardness. ‘Human, all too human’ (Nietzsche) May they rot in hell, or better yet may their karma catch up with them and force them to undergo what they did to me.

    As to my dreams: besides becoming a master and a teacher in the martial arts someday I’d like to educate myself as much as possible (through official and unofficial channels), I enjoy music, movies & other forms of culture and I’d like to travel… Especially to Japan, Israel and the Phillipines so I can combine tourism with training at the source (JJ, KM, kali). Other than that I just want to be a good person and to influence people’s lives in a positive way. A longer term goal would be enlightenment in the Buddhist sense: I don’t think living in samsara is a good thing and to liberate oneself from pain caused by delusion, hatred and longing would seems the highest and most worthwhile goal that can ever be pursued.

  12. In case you're interested: my sensei asked me to teach a class on monday every other week, in exchange I would get 50% off of the price for a full subscription (what they call a 'teacher's discount'). This means I get to train jkd, kali, thaiboxing & mixfight as much as I want at a reasonable price. I'm glad I only have to teach twice a month since it is a big responsiblity and you absolutely have to be there everytime and deliver the goods. I contacted that krav maga school but they changed class to tuesday night and I just can't make it then. Too bad but training at the academy is probably better for me in the long run (more possibilities, more sparring, different teachers…) and I can always do krav later. I am honoured he asked me and I hope I can contribute enough to the dojo and the development of our students.

    Zara

  13. It does seem like it, doesn't it? We'll see how it goes but I'm fairly confident I can pull it off: the plan is to give them a good work-out (working on strength and flexibility) coupled with lots of basics and my main focus will be to rehearse what sensei taught the previous lesson, with a little twist or a new technique now and then to keep it interesting. Repetition is the key to mastery and the core of being a good martial artist is not knowing a lot of techniques but perfection of the techniques you do know and being able to pull them off in a variety of situations, against a wide variety of attacks and of course under pressure. My old sensei used to say it's better to have 15 techniques that are so ingrained into your system they're really a part of you than hundreds that you only know superficially… How very true and how very wise.

    As it stands now I'll probably be able to train at least 3 nights a week with about 3 hours of classes or extra training per evening. I'm looking forward to all the exciting new things I'll learn although I'm under no illusion that it will be a walk in the park; it'll be very tough physically, I'll get beaten up regularly and there will be frustration when things don't go as I want them to but that's all part of the game and in the end it'll be more than worthwhile. No pain no gain.

    I firmly believe in the concept of mastery of all the ranges in order to become a complete martial artist and fighter: my close-in skills are fine thanks to years of JJ, my boxing is reasonably good, kicking definately needs more work, weapons are ok but not great and my groundwork is weak so I'll definately need to focus a lot on that. Endurance is not bad but not great either so some running or swimming wouldn't hurt (I absolutely love swimming: floating on the water while using your entire body and your mind being able to zoom out since you can't possible take a wrong turn).

    I feel I'm embarking on quite an adventure and one that I should have embarked on a long time ago… Ah well, bygones are bygones and better late than never.

    How are you doing? I think it's quite admirable you put so much effort and time into your dojo: teaching 4 or 5 times a week must be very tough and challenging and to keep it up for years on end is quite an achievement. As it stands now my sensei only teaches once a week with a kyu-training per month and that already weighs on him but then again he trains a lot of other stuff and probably overtrains since it's not healthy to do work out 4 to 5 times a week, most of it training in arts that are known to be quite gruelling physically (especially thaiboxing & MMA). I do hope he sticks with the club since I can't possibly take over the entire dojo, not with my rank and meager experience.

    One last thing (and yes, I know I have a tendency to become long-winded): I'm a bit confused as to the nomenclature… Technically I'm a sempai since I have the second highest rank after sensei but I will be teaching classes on my own so would that make me a sensei or not? Perhaps 'acting sensei'? I know it's customary to only refer to 3th Dan's as 'sensei' or teacher but then again my teacher is only a second Dan and he has his own dojo (could have made third Dan ages ago but he's more interested in other arts than progressing in JJ which is pretty much a formality for him since he's trained in it for 12 years and is quite good already). Not that it matters much: I really don't care what the students call me as long as they respect me and listen to what I have to say. Respect shouldn't be tied to the belt you're wearing but to the man/woman you are and to the skills you can bring to the table.

    Regards,

    Zara

  14. With regards to my teaching lifestyle, I think it's way more exhausting to work a full-time job in which you have no passion, as many people do these days. I love Jiu-jitsu and I love teaching so even though I may arrive at the dojo tired once in awhile, I always leave with a positive mindset. The students energize me.

    What you would be called would depend on what is standard in your style. In my style, everyone gets called Sensei when they reach their black belt because there are expectations that you teach once you achieve that level. Brown belts who are teaching are addressed as Sempai. In Shorinji Kan, brown belts are sometimes called Sensei, but only when they run a dojo. In Yoshinkan Aikido you only get called Sensei after reaching Yondan, 4th degree.

    As you say, it's really just a title. You earn the respect by being a good teacher and making yourself available and accessible to your students.

    Good luck!

  15. I just noticed more comments on this topic.

    Zara,

    I am happy to hear that things are going in a positive direction for you. You are on a path of self discovery and are navigating what is often a challenging landscape.

    Teaching is a rewarding experience. In my style, brown belts are normally addressed as Sempai but this matters very little.

    I agree with Lori that titles are far less important than your teaching methods and knowledge. One of the lessons I've learned is that titles matter very little for enlightened folks. It's your skill and approach that earns respect.

    Lori manages to do what she loves on a full time basis (from what I've read). I respect her for this and have an understanding of the time and effort it takes.

    Zara, you are on the path. You are learning as you go. Stay positive and the rewards will come. There will be speed bumps along the way but the true warrior overcomes and rises above. Best of luck to you.

  16. On top of that I have to take the test twice (once for in-house for my sensei and an assortement of guest instructors and once for the federation we belong to): the problem is that the requirements are completely different so this means I’ll basically have to start re-training as soon as the first test is out of the way. The main difference is that for the in-house exam I’ll have to know three defenses against all attacks (grabs, chokes, body-locks, kicks, punches, weapons, ground…) while the federal test consists of 10 chosen defenses per category (10 throws against grabs, 10 locks against grabs…). In itself not insurmountable but there are a few high ranking sensei in the federation who are really traditional (on a federal seminar one guy actually complained about guest instructors teaching courses in krav-maga, kali and shooto… go figure) and since our style is very non-traditional and mixed with elements from various, predominantly non-Japanese arts, I’ll probably get flak for that while for I don’t give a damn where it comes from as long as it gets the job done and much of this koryu stuff is just way too outdated to be of any practical use in reality. One of the things they stress is to punch (in defense and attack) in the traditional karate fashion (hand at the hip, deep stance with corkscrew at the end) which I absolutely detest: the striking portion of our curriculum consists mainly of kickboxing (thaiboxing, JKD, panantukan) and in my view our entries against punches are way more efficient than the old block-counterpunch routine. Ah well, give the emperor what is his I guess… It does make you question the value of the whole grading system (I’ve seen nidan’s who clearly weren’t better than me) but if I ever want to have a dojo of my own I’d better sweeten up my CV.

    The main point now is to perform well in front of sensei: both because I know his judgment will be tough but fair and I would be the first person he elevated to the status of black belt so it would be a great way to pay him back for his kindness and the extra hours he spent training one-on-one with me.

    Regards,

    Zara

    PS: hope I didn’t complain too much, I just had to get it out of my system.

  17. The photoshoot went well, in case you or Journeyman are interested I can mail you the link, I'd appreciate your thoughts. Of course there's nothing wrong with the techniques themselves but there were some problems with the photography and we had to hurry because of the rain so it's not perfect but still ok. We shot it at the garages right behind my appartement block and we certainly caught the neighbours attention: we had a whole assortiment of weapons (ultimately we did defenses against baseball bat, knife and pistol as well as some empty hand stuff) and apparantly it looked a little dangerous cause we were asked if it was friendly or not (of course I asked permission from the congierge first so she wouldn't call the cops on us). Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea to shoot at a residential area but then again it wasn't like we were fighting and his gf was taking pictures so that was a major clue. All in all I'm satisfied and since I'm the one who got to take a nosedive on a hard surface nearly everytime I think we have enough pictures 😉

    Zara

  18. (Sorry i accidentally rejected the first half of Zara's last comment. Here it is.)

    Hi Journeyman,

    Thanks for the kind words, positive thinking is indeed important especially since I’m somewhat prone to do the opposite but I’m determined to make this work and MA are an important part of my life so it’s time to explore that further while I’m still relatively young (27). If you don’t learn while you’re still young you probably never will and the physical aspect of the MA (especially pertaining to kickboxing and wrestling/submission) does get tougher when you’re older.

    My sensei’s coming over later in the day to put together a demo consisting of photo’s depicting basic defenses against common attacks which will be posted on our website later on to give folks a general idea as to what our style is about. Hopefully that way they’ll have more incentive to come check it out for themselves and hopefully step on the mat since only feeling is believing, at least when JJ is concerned.

    My main goal for now is still the infamous black belt but I am encountering bumps in the road as you call it since I’m basically lacking competent ukes who are willing to devote enough time to properly drill this in. As it stands now there’s only one guy whom I can count on and we trained once a week for about 1,5 to 2 hours (still not nearly enough but I’ll take anything I can get), now he and his gf split up and his kids are staying with him every other week so he can’t make it that week (completely understandable of course but still bad luck for me) so instead of training more as the test draws near I’m actually training less(!) and while he’s a good guy who trains with gusto he’s still only a yellow belt and way too stiff to make certain techniques look good. For some reason he can’t seem to kick higher than hip height (at least with a roundhouse kick) and I’m afraid if I go full speed (which is of course mandatory for a shodan test) he’ll get confused and I’ll break something or punch his lights out. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be ready but it won’t be for a lack of trying on my part. Still, it sucks not being able to train and doing rounds on the heavy bag or other solo exercises don’t do much for a two person game like JJ. …

  19. (Second half of Zara's first comment)

    My main goal for now is still the infamous black belt but I am encountering bumps in the road as you call it since I’m basically lacking competent ukes who are willing to devote enough time to properly drill this in. As it stands now there’s only one guy whom I can count on and we trained once a week for about 1,5 to 2 hours (still not nearly enough but I’ll take anything I can get), now he and his gf split up and his kids are staying with him every other week so he can’t make it that week (completely understandable of course but still bad luck for me) so instead of training more as the test draws near I’m actually training less(!) and while he’s a good guy who trains with gusto he’s still only a yellow belt and way too stiff to make certain techniques look good. For some reason he can’t seem to kick higher than hip height (at least with a roundhouse kick) and I’m afraid if I go full speed (which is of course mandatory for a shodan test) he’ll get confused and I’ll break something or punch his lights out. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be ready but it won’t be for a lack of trying on my part. Still, it sucks not being able to train and doing rounds on the heavy bag or other solo exercises don’t do much for a two person game like JJ. …

  20. I was a bit surprised to hear you'd actually like a Japanese-style dojo. Your writing style, training style (from your posts) and martial art style seem decidedly not in the traditional Japanese vein.

    Who woulda thought.

  21. I can understand why you would say this. My training perspective is more what I would call modern traditional. I like the Japanese style focus and training ethic, but still like to encourage open-mindedness, friendly atmosphere, and a sense of humour. It's kind of east meets west. Plus, I just like the look of the Japanese aesthetic and decor.

  22. I commend you for being able to get this numbers of comments on your blog. That is an accomplishment for every blogger. Congratulations! Running a Dojo is not an easy endeavor and investment. Absolutely, you need to have the technical knowhow in order to succeed in such plan.

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