Time to Find a Dojo
The final step in our katana readiness guide is helping you find a dojo where you can now use your newly purchased katana. If you already have a location to train then you are finished, no need to read this step!
For those of you who are new katanas, other weaponized martial arts, or just martial arts in general, this final step will help you pin down a place where you can practice under the supervision of a trained sensei (which as I said in earlier steps that I highly recommend).
I guess before I get too far ahead of myself for those who are new to this and don’t know what a dojo is let me explain. A dojo is a place or large room used for training purposes in martial arts. They can range from a gym, to a smaller studio, to an entire complex focused on teaching the various martial arts. Dojos can vary in the types of martial arts they perform there ranging from judo and karate to the more skilled iaido.
The word comes from Japan and loosely translated means “a place of pursuit” the pursuit of which is your journey to mastering a martial art. The ‘Do’ means ‘way’ or ‘pursuit’ and the ‘Jo’ means ‘a place’. Combined they represent the term that is referred to today.
Why Find a Dojo?
The primary reason why everyone who is new to any martial art that involves swords, blades, or other weapons should find a local dojo is so that they learn how to use them. You don’t buy a car and try to take it out on the road before you know how to drive it…well I didn’t anyway.
By going to a dojo you can practice under the supervision of a master sensei who will instruct you on the proper usage of your sword. Having this guidance is essential in remaining safe and actually understanding what you are trying to accomplish beyond just swinging a piece of sharp steel around.
Training in a dojo will also allow you to understand the ways of the samurai, their ancient thought process, and their takes on various life situations. It’s not just a sport you are about to participate in, it’s an entire mindset.
The final benefit of practicing in a dojo is that you’ll get to meet other people that share the same interest as you. You not only will train against them in the dojo, but you will bond with them outside of it. I’ve actually learned quite a bit from my friends who I practice with; they’ve let me experiment with their swords (hence some of my offered advice around katana reviews), given my advice on sword care, and even shared a few beers with me (not before using the katana of course).
How to Find a Dojo
Well you could do a simple search for “dojo’s near me” in Google, Bing, or whatever your preferred search engine of choice is. The only thing is that occasionally dojos may not be set up with the keyword “dojo” in the title, meaning you may be missing out on some.
My preference is using a search engine specific to dojos. The site dojos.info is great resource for finding a place to practice by conducting a nationwide search for dojos near an address you select.
I’ve taken some code from their site to allow you to search for a dojo near you right from here. Just enter your zip code in the search tool below to see what’s near you.
Once you have a selection of a few dojos you’re interested in the first step is to call them to find out if they even offer the martial arts training you are interested in as well as their membership costs. This may narrow down your list a bit.
From there I’d suggest actually visiting each one and speaking with the sensei there and understanding the various katana training performed there. It is very important to work with a sensei you believe you’ll be comfortable with since at times you will become very frustrated. If you are practicing Iaido everything is extremely fluid and calculated, you can expect some struggles at first with getting the movements down.
Here is the dojo search process for your reference:
- Search to find dojos close by
- Call find out what is taught there
- Obtain pricing and rule out anything too expensive
- Visit each dojo to determine which sensei is the best fit for you
- Chose a dojo and start katana training!
New Dojos are opening up all the time; below is a live RSS feed I set up to let you know about any new dojo openings listed with Dojos.info, the top dojo search site. I’ve set it up to show the 5 most recent openings.
Occasionally we may not wish to join a dojo due to various reasons (distance, time, money, experience, etc.). Whatever the reason there are alternatives to learning various martial arts via online training programs, however the quality of learning online as opposed to in-person is significantly worse. This leaves you with either messing around yourself and hoping you don’t lose a finger (or worse) or researching online training programs.
When this is the case there are online courses you can watch however these really don’t do you the justice that an in person formal training would do. The primary reason being that the instructor can’t actually see your technique, this prevents them from correcting any mistakes you may be making in the training. Without knowing if you are doing something wrong or not, it becomes pretty difficult to correct it.
Some courses that I’ve seen online but haven’t partaken in are listed below. If any of you readers do happen to enroll in them we’d love to hear your feedback on their effectiveness in our forum section or on our Facebook page.
YouTube is amazing, the things we can find on there are endless. I’ve pulled a couple videos I think you may be interested in checking out that will help you learn some basics.
A start to katana training.
More related videos from Ehowmartialarts.
A video on how to unsheathe your katana.
More training videos are available on Sensei Orlando’s YouTube channel.
Udemy is also a great place to learn various martial arts (as well as just about anything else). This site provides a range of training tutorials both for free as well as for a fee. The image below links to a training program for Taijutsu.
That’s it, we’ve walked you through the entire process of buying a katana. I hope you found this katana readiness guide to be extremely valuable in helping you make your journey into becoming a trained swordsman. I appreciate any shares you can give my site to help spread the word.
Additionally there are a lot of other great forums out there to help you in your search with Sword Buyers Guide being a great one. I’d suggest clicking the link below to browse katana options then once you find one either come back here to our forum section or use another forum to ask any additional questions you may have around the blade. Online communities are great for providing real life feedback to help form your decision on what to buy.
Stick around and check out my other posts if you are craving more samurai information. My next post will teach you where you can find or make a custom katana that fits your personality and stands out from the rest of the class.