dojo relationships

Relationships in the Dojo: Should They Be Discouraged?

It’s bound to happen sooner or later in any given dojo at which men and women train together, even more so when they socialize together. Attractions develop and sometimes training relationships can develop into romantic relationships. It’s human nature.

Some dojo owners actively discourage this from happening, even forbid dating within the dojo. They worry that if things go wrong in the relationship, the instructor may lose one or both students. They also worry that their personal relationship may interfere with their training on the mats. And these are a valid concerns. That being said, I really don’t think there is much to be done about it. Even if you ban dating in the dojo, students will just date in secret if they are really interested in each other.

I can only offer the following advice to couples who either start training together or couples whose relationships formed out of their training relationships:

1. Be professional. Think of your training relationship as a work relationship. Don’t treat your romantic partner differently than you would any of your other training partners. I know this can be hard, but it really is for the best.

2. Keep your personal differences off the mats. If you have an argument or disagreement before class that is unresolved, keep it off the mats. If necessary, avoid training with your significant other. If possible, try to resolve things before getting on the mats.

3. Let your instructor do the teaching. In many romantic relationships, there can be a tendency for one person to take the reigns. This often carries into training. They often try to teach and “help” their partner, even though they don’t necessarily know any better about the topic. This can be frustrating for the person on the receiving end. If there is any trouble or question about a technique, ask your instructor for help. It is the best solution for all.

If proper decorum can be maintained on the mats, a personal relationship can be enhanced through the mutual support that a training relationship results in. Happy training, everyone!

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