A dojo (training hall for karate) is a serious place of serious study. When a student enters the dojo, he or she bows to show respect to all who have gone before on the "Way", to show respect to the space where this important training takes place and as a reminder to strive fully during the upcoming training session. There is no extraneous talk or unnecessary interruptions during class, only careful, mindful study. Dojo means not only training hall but also refers to all who train and instruct together in that space and the art that is taught there. A deeper translation of the Japanese word "dojo" is Way of Enlightenment.

Karate begins and ends with courtesy and respect. Politeness to other students and to instructors is fundamental to the art of karate. Without courtesy there is no art and no martial artist. Courtesy is an external indicator of internal maturity, mindfulness and integrity of character. To fight without mind and conscience is not karate, only brawling, something that anyone can do. The art of karate is physical but also so much more. "The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of character of its participants." Gichin Funakoshi. When the student first takes up training in karate, he or she does so with respect for the Sensei. The Sensei has been long upon the "Way", has gained experience and knowledge through hard work, sweat and diligence. In return for respect shown, the Sensei has compassion for the students and helps bring them along the path. The three tenets of the Butoku Kai are respect, compassion and gratitude; respect for seniors, compassion for juniors and gratitude for your parents, friends, country and your god, whether Christian or other.

Students often seek to add discipline to their lives. A traditional karate program is an excellent choice to help achieve this goal because it is not only a means of self defense but also a journey of self improvement. Sport karate and kickboxing programs are more recent derivatives of traditional karate and generally promote physical skills and value tournament experience but do not emphasize the esoteric development of the participant as much. Traditional karate may or may not emphasize the tournament experience depending on the school involved since karate teaches that "the enemy is within". Sun Tzu in The Art of War presents the philosophy thus; "If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." Traditional karate as taught at The Niagara Falls Martial Arts Center places more value on perfection of character of the participant than on winning or losing. Students sometimes are surprised to discover that self discipline comes to all who practice regular, consistent training over a long period of time. That is the simple and profound secret of success that opens the gates to the magic of higher learning in the martial arts.

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