Selecting A Jujitsu Dojo
A prospective jujitsuka needs, at minimum, to answer the following:
Possible reasons to study jujitsu include:
Itís important to clarify reasons and rank their importance. Reasons may conflict, necessitating compromise. Suppose for example the prospective student wants a self-defense class offering vigorous physical exercise while the spouse wants a dojo spiritually oriented dojo with classes for children. Obviously compromises are in order. Ensuring a rewarding experience at a jujitsu dojo requires careful analysis. Regardless of reason, the selected dojo must teach both inner and outer factors of the art for balanced development.
Style is important. This can be confusing, especially for a judoka, since judo has a fairly standardized syllabus. Jujitsu, in contrast, presents bewildering choices. Some styles stress different types of competition. Others emphasize self-defense or inner factors of martial arts. Less-combative styles focus on minimizing damage to the assailant while still defending oneself. Still others feature weapons systems. The possibilities are endless.
Next of course is the sensei. In school the classes we liked best were taught by the best teachers. Jujitsu is no different. Factors to consider include:
After considering these questions, the prospective student should watch a few classes to make sure that he or she has selected the right dojo. Deciding on a dojo is a complex decision, but selecting the right one can yield many years of rewarding experiences.
Hereís how I selected a jujitsu dojo. I had a background in Shotokan karate and was in relatively good shape. I sought a dojo focusing on self-defense. Karate, as most sport martial arts, emphasizes sportive aspects more than self-defense. I visited several martial arts dojo, interviewed sensei, talked with students, and selected a dojo that stressed practical self-defense with a balanced focus on inner and outer factors. However before deciding to join I observed several classes to make sure the sensei and style were right for me. They were. Now 30 years later, I realize that all the time and effort I put into selecting that jujitsu dojo was well worth it.
(Hal Zeidman, 6th dan in USJA Jujitsu and previously vice-chair of the USJA Jujitsu Committee, has studied martial arts for 33 years. He lives in Connecticut and before moving there, ran a dojo in Ohio. Zeidman Sensei conducts many seminars.)