After Charles Murray returned to the USAF for a career change, I started training a few of the students he had taught at McDade park outside of Scranton. Then I was permitted to take my program into the Scranton Boys Club, Over the next 5 years, I would return to McCade park with the program during the summers when the Boys Club was closed. I also taught programs at the CYC and in Dave Brojack’s Kempo Goju Club.
After moving to Derry NH, I began the program at the Derry Boys and Girls Club. Again during summers I also held classes outside in my back yard. Later for decades taught Tai Chi on my driveway, in all seasons, from -20f to +115f, just not in rain.
Inside, outside, driveway, hillsides, back yard, between rows of blueberry bushes, all locations where I have committed karate instruction.
When I began teaching adults what I wanted to try to do, was follow my imaginary Okinawan instructor idea I had worked up over the years. When one of my instructors was stationed on Okinawa during a USAF tour of duty, he trained as often as possible in the Agena school of Shimabuku Tatsuo.
At that time there were few Americans training there, as the Marines had a dojo on their base. Most of the day it was free for anyone who could traing, Then the work day ended and the Okinawan students would come by to work out after work. There was no structured class, just people working out. And if you were working on something new, everyone would help out as you learned the material. Then they would go home.
That dojo, a place to train.
Picking ideas from many sources that I had trained. What I did was just like that.
The adult class had no discernable structure, from the students eyes. That was done so students had to remain aware of what was happening, just as in life.
There was no warm up section to classes. Warm up exercises were taught to beginners, but it was the adults responsibility to warm up before training. Just started what was being shown for the day slowly, increasing tempo as we went, A natural adjunct using training as additional warm up. Similarily it was their own responsibility to warm down after class.
I got the idea from 10 years observing how Tristan Sutrisno trained his classes. Never one minute warming up, too much karate to do, too little time. Of course what was also different was creating a climate where each individual was responsible for their own training too. Moving away from the instructor had to do everything. I believe that is also a good thing.
While most of the classes were at the Boys and Girls Club location, at times they were outside on my driveway, my backyard, amidst my blueberry bushes.
It has also been very much a learning experience. Following my instructors way he learned on Okinawa, testing is not something student’s experience. For the most part many would have preferred never to have been promoted. My students really taught me they did not care about rank, and it has never been something they have discussed.
For one thing everyone knows what everyone else has and does. They train for their own reasons, not mine. While of course people come and go, most of them who have made black belt have stayed an average of 17+ years, frequently many more. This shows what it can be done with long term students. Also students choose their own roles. Some keeping up the training for their own wants. Some to push themselves beyond their own comfort level. Several receiving deeper instruction from their choices, eventually became instructor candidates, taking part in the instructor mentorship, and then going on to inherit the program.
Some speculation on my part.
Before the Okinawans started using the Japanese term dojo, the most reasonable Okinawan equivalent I have found the location of training was Niwa or yand/garden.
Which was suggested by Paul Enfield. However Dan Mitsuhara suggests is could something like "chiiku sun ba" = "place where you train". I am grateful for their suggestions.
Part of their instructors home I am sure.
I believe in a small part that is what I achieved.
I do not believe I ever used the term dojo for that place we trained. It really never came up. There was just that we trained, and trained and trained.