The dojo

Karate is taught in a training hall called a "dojo" (the word do meaning "the way" or "the path" and jo which means "the place", hence "the place where the way is studied"). A dojo can take many physical forms, from a school gym to a community centre or a basement. It is not the physical shape or size of the dojo that is important but rather the attitude and the spirit of the students towards the place of learning.

The dojo is almost a sacred place and should reflect the respect that is an integral part of karate-do at all levels. The lower belts show respect to those of higher ranking, with the ultimate respect being shown to the sensei. These gestures comprise a formalized ritual that is part of karate-do etiquette which determines how one behaves in the dojo, during a sparring match and at tournaments. Etiquette will only be an empty shell of physical movement until made to come alive by a student's positive attitude. In developing student's positive attitudes, the virtues of respect, kindness, courtesy, patience, humility and the drive to develop personal skills to the maximum possible will be stressed.

It should be noted that when training in a dojo, there is a distinction between the Dojo Kun (training principles) that students should follow not just in the dojo but in their everyday life and dojo etiquette, the rules that students should adhered to whilst physically training. The former are philosophical principals that act as a moral guide and frame the practice of karate within an ethical context. The latter are the rules that govern respect, manners and physical safety during training.

Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate, stressed that karate begins and ends with etiquette. He also stated that without courtesy there is no dojo.

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