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Paul Anderson
Paul Anderson's picture
Your dojo

Always interested, or rather being a bit nosey, to see where different clubs train.  No real idea why, I just find it interesting to see the environment we all use as our dojos.

My club has three sessions weekely:

Wednesday:  Downstairs in a local public hall.  Small room that an fit about 15 peeps at most.  Floor seems to be sprung with some kind of linoleum covering.  A bit stuffy but in the summer it turns into a bit of sweat house with not much in the way of ventalation.  I like it, our clubs trained there for 30 years, and it reminds me of all the old school dojo's in UK where a club has used local halls etc and not the sports centre.

Thursday: We have one court in a 4 court sports hall at a newly built local sports centre.  Concrete floor & set out like a badmington court as you would expect.  It's unusual in that the court to our right a different local Karate club of the same style trains at the same time.  On the other side a local gymnastics club uses two courts, and as you would expect they do their routines along to music .... blared out through the hall speakers.  I hate seeing Amercian Karate with their freestyle Kata to music so the irony is not lost when I find myself doing bassi dai to the latest download chart No1.  Addtionally the class next door insist throughout the hour of training to Kai on every technique in their Kihon, not just after 5, and since they do a lot of Kihon they generate a lot of noise, which we don't really.  They drill towards and away from us, where we drill perpendicular to them, so their noise comes straight to us.  It has been challenging to deal with as it's difficult to communicate in such an environment sometimes.  However I like it.  It struck me one day training in this environment it was maybe an opportunity rather than a pain to be able to train with constent distractions.  I would expect it's not for everyone.

Sunday: A different sports centre.  Concrete floor again. We are at the far end of a 8 court hall, split into 4 & 4.  Generally there's people playing 5-aside on one side and us and a couple of groups playing badmington.  This is the most calm enviornment however it is amusing to hear the football players screaming and swearing in amongst our sparring etc.

I think what all of the above has taught me is that no matter how much distraction (noise, screaming, swearing, claustrophobic atmosphere) you have when sparring or doing kata it's very easy to block out all environmental noise and activity and focus on one point, one objective.  From a one on one point of view this is great, however in an environment where you are being attacked it's very easy to get tunnel vision on the person standing in front of you, and you never see the person who knocks you out.

So, now I have the award for the most boring post on here, I'd be interested in learning about your training environment.


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

My personal training is mainly done in a dusty, cold garage with breezeblock walls and a single bulb for lighting. I have all the weights, bags, mats, etc in there. Not ideal, but there is an atmosphere I find conducive to training :-) I also train at the local Gym and even out on the hills and fells. Something “primal” about doing kata in the wind and rain.

My main weekly group training is done at the British Combat Academy in Yorkshire which is a great facility with all you could need for effective training.

My regular teaching is done twice weekly out of the same church hall I’ve been teaching in for 24 years. I’ve never wanted a fulltime place as that’s not where my heart is and this hall is most definitely “home”. It’s were we’ve taken the photos for the books and it was where I filmed my first two videos. We also have a key for the hall and a cupboard for all the mats, etc. We also have a good relationship with the church and I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else.

As regards seminars, well I’ve taught in different types of places all over the world. Some quiet, some noisy, some with mats, some without, some dedicated dojos, some schools, some churches, even outside, and so on.

I guess the bottom line is that anywhere can be a dojo. It’s ultimately the people in it that determine whether it is or not.

All the best,


Harald's picture

This is not a boring post at all!

If I go to have lessons or regular training at a club, there are the gyms or sports hall and not a genuine budo atmosphere. They even do not bow when entering the place. Then there are the traditional (holy) dojos with pictures (e.g. of Mabuni or Funakoshi) and lots of bowing, washing feet before entering. My club in Berlin has a dojo for the jiu group and sparring training (it is not that formal).

But I was brought up like Iain tells of himself. A dusty garage with weights, sand-bag, a dirty carpet, unfortunately without mats since I got judo lessons over there. Makiwara training in the backyard of my friend´s house, when it rained inside his restaurant. I love to do karate outside. In the fields, woods, in parks and parking areas...kata in rain, wind, snow, in the sun... Mabuni Kenei goes to beach and on the grass on his stage in Korsika. Movements are different, not as fast as on flat ground. A final remark on stances: After having read Iain´s stance on this topic I practiced nahate kata (sanchin and tensho) on a hill. You have to find your well-balanced stance before you can perform a strong technique. The grounds in naha were wet and difficult. In shuri it was flat and dry. Different stances!


Finlay's picture

excellent topic

i find that some arts require certain training areas

when i started in TKD we were in a village hall, but as the club grew we went on to find our own dedicated dojo

in my training in China, I most studied in the outdoors for both cultural and training reasons, really tests you to get our and do standing qi gong when it is -14 degrees. also tests your focus when you are being watched and given advice by anyone who happens by.

currently i do most of my training in a squash court, strangely i really miss the outside sessions

PASmith's picture

Well I train at a couple of places with varying facilities.

Karate = Inside a members only health club. Bar, showers, swimming pool, etc. The room itself is a sprung wooden floor with lots of mirrors, gym balls, weights etc (which we incorporate sometimes). The nicest room I've ever trained in really. Sadly no mats so we're limited as to what we can train (I've asked for some but no joy). The room also gets used for Salsa, Yoga, Body combat etc.

TKD = Multiple venues that includes a large school hall and a similar dance type studio as my Karate place.

Thai = Not trained there for a couple of years now but it's in a dedicated training centre. Matted floor, boxing ring, loads of bags. Much more an old school type environment with lots of pads and the pervading smell of sweat and hard work in the place. :)

Maxime Pornin
Maxime Pornin's picture

A couple of years ago, I trained for one year in a rather renowned club in downtown Paris. The dojo itself was (and maybe still is) a smallish room downstairs, with wooden floor and mirrors, very traditional but not reallly well lighted or ventilated. There where so many Karateka training there, almost all day round, that there was trouble with condensation forming on the ceiling and you had waterdrops falling on you while training. They also had to burn a kind of incense to make up for the "sports room" smell ... Believe me, all this all gave a lot of atmosphere to training ! (and taught you how to manage your breathing)

For personal training, I am lucky enough to have a small garden I can use for Kihon and Kata practice. It is a very peaceful and "natural" setting that helps for concentrating, and hedges and walls conceal it from the street and neighbouring houses, so that I am not making a show of myself either.

Matt110686's picture

Well i train with two different clubs,

My own club trains every Wednesday night in a dusty old hall, no matts, no showers just us and the instructor! We train as a semi contact karate club,Ive been at the club nearly 10 years!

The Second Club  Trains every Monday  Thurday  and  1st Saturday of the month, Its full contact which gives me a different prespective on martial arts!

With this Second club i had the honour of training with Ian Twice.

JWT's picture

Personal training - anywhere I can.  The living room, the kitchen, the hall, my study, the spare room...

I run my regular classes in two locations.  The junior club (11-18) is in a school and we share the hall with fencers.  The floor is rubberised concrete and they have gym mats we can lay down.  It's on the first floor with no windows and no air conditioning and it can get very hot and humid.  The senior club trains in a Dance Studio in the local Judo Centre.  It has a mirrored wall which is quite useful for training and I have access to a few Judo mats.

As regards seminars. like Iain I've trained all over the place.  Carpeted classrooms, village halls, school halls, sports centres etc...

Mr P
Mr P's picture

Over the years I have mainly trained with the club in the local leisure centre or community centre. Often exposed to either silence, noise, high temps or cold. Occasionally had to dodge the odd strategically placed bucket to catch the rain from a leaky roof. Have shared parts of halls with kids parties, five a side and fat club (aka slimming world).

Have trained at home like others in the front room, kitchen garage and garden. Unfortunately garden training ruins my lawn so sometimes go out on back field.

Does anybody wear their gi when training outdoors? Sometimes I want to but don't want to draw attention to myself outside!


karate10's picture

Matter of fact Alan, I train with my Gi in my living room when I do my personal Karate techniques/Katas to kick off every morning, 7 times a week for the last 12 semi years and still growing strong with my personal agenda which I can't let go because I enjoy what I'm doing.

When I don't go to the dojo, I also go to the local Gym Club doing some cardio running, light weight training using arm cables, leg squats, chin up, stomach workout and jogging inside the pool.

Tez's picture

We've always trained in army barracks, our first place we had for ten years until the building was condemned and knocked down. The Scots Guards let us use their gym hall for two years until they found us our own building. Using the gym was fine, it had mats etc but we had to fit in with military training and often the floor was dirty after they'd had briefings etc in there. When they said we could have our own building we were over the moon, it's in need of doing up but the main room is quite large, we had our own mats put in, we'd had them in storage along with most of our kit. We have a weights room, a cardio room, changing/toilet and an office. It's getting painted instages and different bits sorts out, we do have civvies who come and train with us as well, luckily we have a carpenter and an electricain. John, the Scots Guards Sgt Maj who got it all for us, acquired things like more mats, some scaffording to hang bangs from, a multi gym as well as some money from the army. We are still the Catterick Garrison Martial Arts club but the building we are in has been called the Garrison Boxing and MMA Gym with the sign in Guards colours, but we are grateful for the building so we don't mind. The boxers use it on Wednesday afternoons ( sports afternoon in the military) plus there's fitness on Monday nights run by John run army style lol...his favourite saying....get a cup o man up! The SGs sponsored hoodies and trackie trousers for us, SGs badge and flash as well as motto plus two gold stars on the front for the two students we've lost in Afghan.

In September the Scots Guards along with the Brigade here are off to Afghan again hoping all come back, our student numbers will be very small while they are away, we have soldiers from all the regiments training here. It's hardest on the children who train TSD with us as their dads and some mums are away so it's extra classes and an eye kept out for them by all of us.

The adults do MMA and anyone is welcome to come and train if they are in the area, just PM me to sort security details out.

Jon Jepson
Jon Jepson's picture

My first training hall was a old school boxing gym in a local ish town . It was run by a ex boxer and his brother . There was no ventalation to speak of and an old water trough in the corner......... thats where we all had our drink from ! The good old day`s aye ?. My own Dojo is above a local miners welfare club , a solid building with concrete floor`s . We have exclusive use of this room too . Im also looking at starting a club in a local church hall . The local Vicar seems real keen to help , which suprised me to be honest . As you can see . my own personal training enviroment has come a long way !

Jon .  

swdw's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:
My regular teaching is done twice weekly out of the same church hall I’ve been teaching in for 24 years. I’ve never wanted a fulltime place as that’s not where my heart is and this hall is most definitely “home”. We also have a good relationship with the church and I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else.


Ditto- church gym, twice a week. Can stay as late as I want if someone wants to stick around and train.

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

swdw wrote:

Iain Abernethy wrote:
My regular teaching is done twice weekly out of the same church hall I’ve been teaching in for 24 years. I’ve never wanted a fulltime place as that’s not where my heart is and this hall is most definitely “home”. We also have a good relationship with the church and I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else.


Ditto- church gym, twice a week. Can stay as late as I want if someone wants to stick around and train.

Mines the same, although the Caretaker likes us out within 20 mins lol