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Garage Karate

Sometimes a student will tell me that he learned in his Sensei's garage or house. Often, they will tell me this with a sense of embarrassment. They are embarrassed because they did not learn in a "proper" dojo.

I will always explain that it is an honor to learn at the Sensei's home or garage -- that is the best place to learn. What an honor to be invited to the Sensei's home!

A dojo is just a place. Sometimes you hear this about churches. Recently I watched a news report about a church that was destroyed by a tornado. The reverend was cleaning up and explained to the reporter that the church was not the building -- it was the people. In the same way, a dojo is not the place -- it is the students.

Some of the embarrassed students will also explain that their Sensei only had a few students. Few students? How lucky for them! The luckiest student is one who trains one on one with his teacher. For most of the time, I was my Iaido Sensei's only student. How lucky I was! I am not embarrassed by this -- I just thought how fortunate I was.

Whether you learn in a garage, a carport, a living room, or even a yard, you are lucky to be learning the best form of Karate. You should not be embarrassed -- you should be grateful for the opportunity to learn from your Sensei.

How should you repay your Sensei? By becoming a good student and eventually a good Sensei, so that you can pass on the art to the next generation of students. Who knows, maybe you'll teach in your own garage.


Charles C. Goodin