It will become more commonplace to watch women wrestling in a dojo.
In January of 2012 when an FCI Associate was invited as a paying customer to a San Francisco dojo to enjoy a women’s submission wrestling card, he didn’t know quite what to expect. When he entered the facility, it was like a palace. The competitors involved were young and extremely good looking.
Previously women’s submission wrestling has occurred in bedrooms, living rooms, hotel rooms (please take your right hand, close your nasal passage and say in a nasal voice: meep, meep, me cheap), converted garages, backyards, the beach, wrestling rings where you can feel and smell last week’s sweat along with its scripted match history wrapped around its neck like an anvil or in the mostly empty gymnasium. We’ve actually seen video of matches in a converted army bunker. We should know since we’ve shot product in some of those places ourselves.
But my, oh, my, beautiful women wrestling in a dojo?
What a brilliant concept!
More important that evening was the feeling and presence that filled the spirit of the dojo. This is not a place for overly erotic behavior.
The kendo-guide.com website helps us understand why there should be respectful caution in the types of events held in a dojo. They raise the question do we all know meaning of dojo? Let’s start from how Japanese write dojo in kanji. Dojo is written “a place of the way” in Japanese. Therefore, it is used to express a place to train martial arts such as kendo, judo, Aikido and so on.
A dojo is where you practice and train the way of anything, as long as the way leads you to enlightenment. A dojo is a place where we discipline ourselves and improve ourselves to be a better person.
A dojo could be anywhere in this sense. Your home can be a dojo too. A street can be a dojo too. If you call a gymnasium a dojo, you must pay respect to the gym. Clean the gym after you practice because that is a part of your training. Bow to the dojo when you come in. Bow to the dojo when you go out. Show your respect and appreciation to dojo.
If you are not able to perform a bow to anything or anyone, then you must come up with something that shows respect. Why? If you do not do anything, no one can tell if you are showing your respect and appreciation to dojo or people. That is a necessary action. Come up with some action that would be easily translated as showing respect and appreciation by others.
Wikipedia is in agreement with the above author but sheds additional light. Initially, dojos were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style such as karate, judo, or samurai, to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.
The concept of a dojo as a martial arts training place is a Western concept; in Japan,] any physical training facility, including professional wrestling schools, may be called dojo because of its close martial arts roots.
A proper Japanese martial arts dojo is considered special and is well cared for by its users. Shoes are not worn in a dojo. In many styles it is traditional to conduct a ritual cleaning (shoji) of the dojo at the beginning and/or end of each training session. Besides the obvious hygienic benefits of regular cleaning it also serves to reinforce the fact that dojo are supposed to be supported and managed by the student body, not the school’s instructional staff. This attitude has become lost in many modern dojos that are founded and run by a small group of people or instructors. In fact, it is not uncommon that in traditional schools (koryu), dojo is rarely used for training at all, instead being reserved for more symbolic or formal occasions. The actual training is conducted typically outdoors or in a less formal area.
Sakurabudokan.com presents impressive ideas from a historical standpoint as well. The dojo interior at Sakura Budokan reflects the spirit of its members.
The actual historical reference to the dojo precedes its use in a martial arts context. Originally and as it still exists today, the meditation and prayer hall of Buddhist acolytes was referred to as a dojo. It was the place where one went to study, practice and learn about the truth and nature of one’s existence. Do or michi, is the Japanese word for a road or pathway. Jo is the term used to denote a castle or great structure. Consequently the term dojo denotes a place where someone goes to travel on a path to self-actualization, understanding ones true self. Anyone who is familiar with the eastern concepts understands that exploring ones desires and motivations is a key element to becoming self-aware. This is a process of concerted effort coupled with deprivation and concentration.
Throughout history warriors of all cultures have sought to improve on their abilities to resolve the fear of death and live with the physical and psychological scars of battle. It was natural that concerted training efforts and strengthening one’s mind held great appeal to the warrior class. The samurai often sought methods to steel their nerves and rationalize their thinking process.
A traditional Japanese dojo is spartan. It should be free of distractions and extraneous materials.
These experiences force the dojo member to look deeply into his own mind and uncover the barriers that prevent him from living his highest life condition. They obstruct his true understanding of his potential and capabilities and they blind him of the perceptions and experiences of others. This is what real training uncovers. It is said that a good teacher of budo will take you to places you have never been before. But a great teacher of budo will change your perception of the place you’re in!
Very important, let’s view the dojo in terms of its use by female leaders.
Usadojo.com/biographies/miyako-fujitani.htm reports, Miyako Fujitani, holds the rank of 7th dan. Her rank was conferred to her by the “Tokyo” Aikikai in Osaka, Japan. Miyako sensei has been practicing the art of aikido for 45 years. She received her shodan (first degree black belt) from the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. She married Steven Seagal in 1975 when Seagal was in his twenties. Her mother owned the building in Osaka where the aikido dojo was housed.
Ms. Fujitani, a pioneer female Aikido instructor in Japan, stresses that the most important factor in the art of Aikido is not physical strength but the skill to control the flow of energy. Ms. Fujitani is Head Instructor of Aikido Tenshin Dojo in Osaka, Japan, which she co-founded in 1976.
Here in America, Ms. Laura Stegner shares her philosophy on the subject. “My name is Laura Stegner. I am one of the owners and founders of BTSD San Diego. This section is written to you from my perspective as a woman, wife, mother, and martial artist (and all the other adjectives that describe me). I have trained in various martial arts and in even more dojos and studios.”
She continues, “At BTSDsd we acknowledge and accept that training in a combative art must be approached differently with women than with men. Women are physically and psychologically different from men. The instructors understand and organize around this fact.”
As women’s competitive submission wrestling begins to gain acceptance in the global community, respectfully competing in a dojo becomes a more attractive option. This is a pathway we hope more female competitors travel as it seems to have the ability to nourish the body, mind and spirit.
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Sources: www.kendo-guide.com/meaning_of_dojo.html, Wikipedia, www.sakurabudokan.com /the-traditional-japanese-dojo, www.usadojo.com/biographies/miyako-fujitani.htm, www.btsdsd.com/ladiesonly.htm