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DOJO

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The dojo can be found close to the Olympic Stadium, at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau 3000, rue Viau, Montréal. Members of the dojo will benefit from changing rooms, showers, saunas, free parking, and many other installations at the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau.

You can use the metro (Viau exit) or l’autobus 132 (Viau). or come by car parking is free for dojo members.

Aikido is practiced at a dojo. A dojo is a place where one studies a Way. The original meaning of the word dojo is a the place where one studies Buddhist, or Zen traditions.

The “sacred” aspect of the dojo comes from experience, and not from obeying any obscure rules. Generally, like other martial traditions (i.e. judo), the surface of the dojo is recovered with tatami that helps with ukemi (reception of technique on the ground) practice.

Originally, the tatami wasn’t specifically designed for martial or sportive practice. It covers the floor of a traditional Japanese house and is produced from rice straw covered with colored linen. The surface of one piece of tatami is 2 square meters. In old days they measured the surface of houses by the number of tatami.

Entering the dojo means passage to a different world, as in traditional Japan: full of “serenity and ardour”. Moments of listening and concentration are followed by a time of intensive practice with full of energy.

Japanese culture organizes dojo rationally, by frontal axes (kamiza-shimoza) and lateral axes (joseki-shimoseki). Every place of dojo has its own meaning. The terms above, are not only related to walls, but to delimited sides of practice. If a tatami is posed in the middle of big gym hall, it still has all those precise places.

Kamiza

Every dojo has a “place of honor” called the kamiza, literally “place of the gods”. On this side we can find a portrait of Founder of Aikido, sometimes calligraphy and ikebana (floral arrangement). Instructor takes a place in front of the kamiza in the center of dojo.

Every student must be careful not to turn his back to kamiza and not to place himself in front of Founders portrait. Here is the convention: during practice we don’t pay attention to those particular axes in the dojo, but during the instructors explanation and the ceremonial bowing at the beginning and end of class instructor sits in front of the kamiza and students sit facing the instructor.

We do this out of respect for the tradition of the country aikido comes from. Practicing rigorous etiquette is beneficial for aikido, develops zanshin (special kind of awareness), correct posture, and humility among other things.

Formulas of politesse

Because of the Japanese roots of aikido, we use Japanese forms of politenesse. Mastering these formulas will come with practice.

O negai shimasu

[o négaï chimass’]

We say this at the beginning of class and to invite a partner to practice.It means “Please, accept practicing with me”.

Dômo arigatô gozaimashita

[doomo aligato godzaïmach’ta]

We say this at the end of class, and to thank a partner for practice. It means “Thank you very much for practicing with me”.

La Forge Aikido Dojo