What is a DoJo?
To be honest, when Donald and I first named the DoJo in June of 2008, it came from a lack of being able to think of anything else to call it! We wanted to create our new year-round school in the model of a Martial Arts dojo. I had taken some martial arts as a kid, and I found that the dojo model was a really effective way to learn. In a dojo, students learn organically, in a quasi-community setting. Learning a lot from their teachers, yes. But also, students would learn from each other. Learning is more than just being shown what to do. A student also needs the opportunity to experience what not to do, what others are doing better, things that really interest them, etc.
Embodied in our new “DoJo” school is a sort of life-ideology that Donald and I both share, which is the idea that bagpiping is not just an art-form, a hobby, or a discipline. More importantly, the art of piping (and for that matter, ANY art-form) is a window into the Self. The challenges that we face with our instruments are a way of examining ourselves – a metaphor, if you will, for our lives as a whole. While our lives are too big and complicated to fully understand, our instruments give us a smaller specimen to study (although, even this smaller specimen can clearly show us that there are no true Answers). Our experiences in our art magnify into our whole Selves, not necessarily “improving” us, not necessarily “progressing” us, but helping show us how we can better pursue our own Way in our lives.
It was only much later that we began poking around to find out what the actual definition of the word DoJo meant. We were stunned to realize that DoJo actually means “Place of the Way,” and while typically associated with Martial Arts, a DoJo isn’t exclusive just to self-defense:
“A dojo is where you practice and train the way of anything, as long as the way leads you to enlightenment.
What is enlightenment, you may ask? I must tell you the truth.
I am still on the way to get there. I am just like you, a person who pursues the way of kendo.
Therefore, I do not want you to narrow the definition but broaden it.
A dojo is a place where we discipline ourselves and improve ourselves to be a better person.”
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