The destruction of a dojo is a fairly simple matter. I know, because I’ve been involved in the arts for going on 47 years, and I’ve seen it happen more than once, and each and every time, it involved one or more of the steps listed below.
Now a dojo full of motivated people is almost impervious to outside influences: they’ll band together in the face of rivals and will train in poverty conditions with no heat or air conditioning, or even no building at all, as long as they believe in the Sensei and what he’s doing. Dojos are seldom destroyed from without by its enemies or from within by its friends; the destruction usually comes from its own Sensei. It’s so easy; all you have to do is be an asshole.
Here are 10 easy ways to destroy your dojo.
- Tournament-itis: Develop a fixation with tournaments in a school where most of the people are there to learn self defense or to get in shape. The majority of students in most dojos have little interest or, frankly, aptitude for organized contests. Either push them into it anyway, or, better yet, ignore their needs and give first priority to your handful of competitors. Spend all your time working with them, and delegate the rest to the care of any handy lower ranking student. Yeah, they’ll feel short-changed, but hey; you’re the Sensei and you can do what you want.
- Denigrate your students at every opportunity. Use your unchallengeable position as Sensei to loudly malign their physiques and their abilities, especially in front of other students, because nothing improves character and insures loyalty like a good dose of gratuitous public humiliation.
- Dismiss any other styles they may have practiced before coming to you as worthless, bastardized, and in every way inferior to the system you teach. Criticize them every chance you get, and let them know that, if Master Sensei Yourstyle didn’t think of it, it’s worthless.
- Be a clock puncher: After all, why should you be willing to discuss or demonstrate anything to a student who questions you after the two hour class is already over? Hey, he got what he paid for, and he has no right to cut into your precious time. Keep the attitude that, once class is over, they should pay you and then get the hell out.
- Ignore any personal problems your students may have, even those that carry over into class. It’s such a pain in the ass when people ask for help, you would never want to bring such a thing on yourself by asking if they’re doing okay or offering them counseling, a sympathetic ear, or, God forbid, actual assistance, right?
- Be a martinet: Always insist on iron discipline that would make an old-school Marine Corps Drill Instructor blanch, even when it is unnecessary. Scream, shout, curse, and strike your students, or apply other draconian punishments at the least offense in order to feed your ego; it consolidates your place and puts them in theirs.
- Play favorites whenever possible. Cultivate a single talented student or small clique and give them special attention at the expense of the rest. After all, just because those losers all paid the same price for class doesn’t entitle them to equal treatment.
- Use the students as your own personal punching bag: After all, what better way to show how good a black belt you are and demonstrate the honor of the martial arts than by regularly beating the hell out of those beneath you who are less skilled, just to show how easily you can do it or because you’re in a bad mood? Really, what else are students for?
- Be a banker: It doesn’t matter how many months or years a student has been faithfully training under you; if he loses his job or gets in other financial trouble, immediately kick him out at the first missed payment. After all, money talks and BS walks. Offer to let him do some work around the dojo or your home to cover the fee until he gets back on his feet? What? Are you kidding me?
- Make the dojo your own personal sex palace: Grope your female students whenever possible, drill a peephole or put a hidden camera in their dressing room, and pick one favorite to be your main squeeze. It’ll be obvious to all the other students what’s going on, so they won’t be too surprised or upset when you leave the class in the care of the highest-ranking student while you’re nailing her behind your closed office door.
Yes, Sensei, just pick any one of these methods and you can destroy your dojo in less than a year’s time. Use all ten and I wouldn’t give you three months.