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My Son, the Dojo Cho

If you've read this blog for a while you will know that I put my second son, Charles, in charge of the dojo a couple of years ago. Charles will be 24 this month. Since we share the same first name, we would call him "Baby Charles" and "Little Charles" when he was young. Now he is 6 feet tall and I am only 5 feet 8 inches tall. So I am the little one!

I was speaking to a senior instructor recently and he asked me, "So how is that going?"

I replied that it was going great. And it is.

It is just that it is not the conventional thing to do. Traditionally, an instructor tends to remain in charge of his dojo until he is quite old, or even until he dies. Then, depending on the situation, the students have to go through a stressful period of adjustment. Sometimes dojo and organizations are even split.

For me, the value and joy of Karate is in the training. I can do that whether I am the head of the dojo or someone else is the head. My position does not change my ability to train and teach. And in any event, I am still the senior in the dojo and my son and other instructors consult with me when they have questions.

When I put my son in charge of the dojo, he became the dojo cho, and I became his dad. I did not put him in charge so that I could acquire a greater title. I just put him in charge. He runs the dojo and makes the decisions. If he wants to promote someone, he can.

To tell the truth, he is a tougher promoter than me. He is a real technician and an excellent teacher. He also has excellent body dynamics. I often have to urge him to teach in a simple way first (particularly with respect to koshi). His koshi movements have become pretty compressed.

I, on the other hand, tend to teach koshi simply and compress (shrink and streamline) the movements only as the student progresses.

Anyway, I feel that if you do things the same way as everyone else, you will probably get the same results. The succession process in Karate dojo is often poorly coordinated and unnecessarily stressful. By putting my son in charge when he is young and I am relatively young too (51), I have time to work with him and give him (and the other instructors) support.

When I put my son in charge of the dojo, it was like I become the dojo grandfather. Now I am an actual grandfather too!


Charles C. Goodin